Real Madrid heaped pressure on second-placed Atletico Madrid with a 3-0 win over Las Palmas on Saturday evening inside a sweltering Estadio Gran Canaria.
Gareth Bale staked his claim for Champions League inclusion by showcasing his talents with a brace split either side of half-time, while Karim Benzema celebrated his 400th appearance for the club by lashing home from the penalty spot shortly before the break.
The victory means Los Blancos now sit just a single point behind Atleti in the race for second ahead of Diego Simeone's outfit's clash with relegation-threatened Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday night, and afforded Zinedine Zidane's men a confidence-boosting afternoon in preparation of their high profile European encounter with Juventus on Tuesday.
A moment of reflection for former Las Palmas man Jose Luis, who passed away earlier this week, preluded a balanced opening in which both sides created a handful of goalscoring opportunities.
The hosts arguably had the better of the early chances, with former Barcelona man Alen Halilovic forcing Keylor Navas into action inside 10 minutes with a stinging long-range effort, while Karim Benzema demanded a smart stop from Leandro Chichizola at the other end from a tight angle.
And the 28-year-old was called upon again midway through the first half as his outstretched left-handed palm denied a certain Marco Asensio goal after Bale's sublime through ball from the left-hand side found the young Spaniard in space inside the area.
But the Las Palmas shot-stopper could do nothing moments later as Bale latched onto an inch-perfect Luka Modric pass from deep before racing through the opposition defense and blasting his emphatic finish across La Union Deportiva's custodian to give Real Madrid the lead.
After opening the scoring, Los Blancos continued to assert their dominance in possession, and added to the scoresheet seven minutes before the break as Benzema - who was making his 400th appearance for Los Vikingos - doubled Madrid's advantage from the penalty spot after Jonathan Calleri, somewhat mindlessly, bundled over Lucas Vasquez inside the area and left referee Gonzalez Fuertes no other choice but to award the spot kick.
Despite continuing to increase their hold on the game as half-time approached, Zinedine Zidane's men were unable to make their assured showing count and sought respite from the baking Gran Canaria sun with a healthy and deserved two-goal advantage.
Following the break, Las Palmas boss Paco Jemez's decision to opt for a formational change did very little to counteract Real Madrid's potent attacking threat as five minutes into the second half Bale had wrapped up all three points.
Again, Los Blancos found success from the penalty spot as the Welshman was caught while attempting an audacious attempt, allowing the out-of-favor attacker to double his haul for the day from 12 yards and record his 11th league goal of the campaign.
After ending the encounter as a contest, Real Madrid had the opportunity to add some further glamour to the scoreline through Benzema, who was found unmarked inside the six-yard box.
However, the Frenchman's inconsistent form in front of goal this season continued, with Chichizola denying the 30-year-old with a superb close-range save before the rebound cannoned back off the Los Blancos striker's leg and away to safety.
As the full-time whistle encroached, it was Bale's turn to spurn another clear opening, with the 28-year-old's second touch while bearing down on goal in search for his hat-trick allowing the Las Palmas goalie to snuff out the danger with a smart stop.
But it was not to be for the Welshman, as Zidane and his men returned to Madrid with three goals and three points to heap the pressure onto Atletico Madrid thanks to a routine victory.