A day after his 33rd birthday, Karim Benzema continued his riveting form and scored the opening goal and created two others as Real Madrid won 3-1 at Eibar on Sunday to move level on points with city rivals Atletico at the top of La Liga.
Benzema and Luka Modric scored inside the first 13 minutes in the Basque Country to put Zinedine Zidane's men on their way to a fourth straight league win, with Lucas Vazquez scoring a late third after Garcia Kike pulled one back for Eibar.
Eibar started brightly but fell behind in the sixth minute as Rodrygo fed Benzema with a delicious lobbed ball, which the Frenchman slotted home for his seventh league goal of the season.
Benzema, who was dubbed by compatriot Zidane as the greatest ever French centre-forward earlier this week, created the second goal seven minutes later, cutting inside and picking out Modric who fired home right-footed.
The striker should have doubled his tally in the 16th minute, but he headed Modric's cross wide of the post.
Real went close to a third goal again when home goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic kept out Rodrygo's close-range effort, but Eibar got themselves back into the match in spectacular style before the half-hour mark.
Kike collected the ball outside the area before curling a stunning finish past Thibaut Courtois.
Benzema thought he had restored the visitors' two-goal lead before half-time but was flagged for a marginal offside, with VAR upholding the linesman's decision.
Eibar, sitting 14th in the table, wasted an excellent chance to equalise 11 minutes after the break, as Takashi Inui shot wide following a rare mistake from Real captain Sergio Ramos.
The reigning champions struggled to put the game to bed in the second half, with Marco Asensio striking a free-kick narrowly off target shortly after coming on as a substitute.
The capital giants survived a late scare when VAR controversially decided not to award Eibar a penalty after the ball struck Ramos's arm.
However, Vazquez wrapped up the points in injury time with a cool finish from a tight angle, having been played in by Benzema.
Zidane couldn't stop lavishing praises on the talismanic striker during the post-match presser.
"He is decisive. What he does is phenomenal," said the Real Madrid coach.
"Not just in terms of goals. I'm repeating myself on Karim, but he doesn't just score goals. Karim brings clear-sightedness to our game, that's very important."
"When he scores it's even better, but beyond that, he is very important to us."
With the win, Los Blancos are behind Atletico on goal difference but have the better head-to-head record, which is how level teams are split at the end of the season.
Although Diego Simeone's side have two games in hand after Saturday's 3-1 success against Elche.
Fifth-placed Barcelona are eight points adrift of the Madrid pair following their 2-2 draw this weekend with Valencia.