It took a late brace by Cristiano Ronaldo to help Real Madrid beat giant-killers Hercules after the Spanish superstars conceded an early lead.
Promoted Hercules have already beaten Barcelona and Sevilla this season as well as holding Villarreal to a draw and they were on course to add Madrid to that list after taking a third-minute lead through David Trezeguet. The 33-year-old Trezeguet, who scored the golden goal in France's UEFA Euro 2000 final win over Italy, joined Hercules after ten years with Juventus and has had an immediate impact scoring four goals in his last four league games.
Madrid, however, stormed back after half-time to take the points, with Ronaldo once again to the fore. The world's most expensive player, who struck four times in last weekend's 6-1 victory over Racing Santander, took his league tally to 11 for the season with two goals in the last eight minutes to seal the victory after Angel Di Maria had struck a 52nd-minute equaliser. Ronaldo was also involved in that goal, with his 25-yard strike being spilled by Hercules goalkeeper Juan Calatayud before being pounced on by Di Maria.
Tonight's victory continues Madrid's unbeaten start under Mourinho, which includes ten wins from 13 competitive games, while it also improves the capital club's remarkable record at Jose Rico Perez stadium. In 20 visits to Hercules' home ground, Madrid have yet to lose and have now picked up 16 victories. That unbeaten record looked in some danger, though, after Hercules went ahead with the first opportunity of the match.
Tiago Gomes sent over a right-wing cross and Trezeguet, having peeled away from marker Pepe, guided a pinpoint header back across Iker Casillas and into the far top corner of the net. That was only the fifth goal Madrid have conceded under Mourinho, and one they still trailed by going into the break.
The visitors had a couple of chances to get back on terms, prior to the interval, Calatayud producing good saves to deny Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain in quick succession, but they could easily have been 2-0 behind with Casillas making a point-blank stop to keep out Trezeguet's header. Mourinho opted not to make any changes at the break, and he was rewarded for his loyalty as his charges drew level just after the re-start.
Calatayud failed to cleanly gather Ronaldo's shot, which had bounced awkwardly just in front of him, and Di Maria nipped into plant the loose ball into the roof of the net. Madrid dominated possession and territory after that as they sought the win, and they gradually increased the pressure on the home net with Sergio Ramos, Higuain and Ronaldo all going close. Time was beginning to run out, but Madrid got the goal they were searching for in the 82nd minute thanks to Ronaldo. Marcelo did well down the left before setting up substitute Karim Benzema, whose shot was well-saved by Calatayud but fell perfectly for Ronaldo to side-foot home from close range.
Benzema, who has found himself under the spotlight after struggling to impress with the Spanish giants, was also involved four minutes later as Madrid netted their third to finish the game off. Di Maria put the France international through on the right and his cut-back was fired into the roof of the net by Ronaldo via a slight deflection. Ronaldo, who is averaging almost a goal a game for Madrid since his £80million move from Manchester United in 2009, spurned a great chance to net his hat-trick late on. But it mattered little to the final result as Mourinho's men ensured they would go into next weekend's derby with Atletico in top spot.