Rafa Benitez praised Cristiano Ronaldo for carrying Real Madrid "on his back" as the forward scored twice in a scrappy but vital 3-1 win over Real Sociedad at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Portugal international Ronaldo opened the scoring from the spot shortly before half-time having skied a penalty earlier in the half.
And after Bruma had levelled for Real Sociedad just after the break, Ronaldo put the hosts back in front with an impressive swivelled volley, while substitute Lucas Vazquez sealed the points late on.
"I have congratulated Cristiano and everyone else because they all united today," Benitez told a press conference. "He took responsibility after missing the penalty and carried the team on his back."
But the Spaniard rejected suggestions he could have lost his job had Madrid not beaten the Basques.
"I don't feel that's the case, I'm now focusing on the next game," he said.
Real went top of the La Liga table temporarily, but were subsequently knocked off their perch a few hours later by neighbours Atletico Madrid, who won 2-0 with late goals at Rayo Vallecano. Atletico looked to be heading for a draw before substitute Angel Correa pounced on a through ball to fire home from close range in the 87th minute. Two minutes later Antoine Griezmann produced a wonderful chip over the goalkeeper to seal the points.
However, new world champions Barcelona reclaimed top spot in the evening game, courtesy of a 4-0 win at home to Real Betis. An own goal by Heiko Westermann set Barca on their way and Lionel Messi added their second goal in the 33rd minute. Luis Suarez hit two for Barcelona after the interval to complete the rout.