A relief on Eden Hazard’s face was palpable as he scored his first goal for the club as they beat Granada 4-2 on Saturday to temporarily extend their lead at the top of La Liga.
The Belgian winger set the club back €100 million (£89m/$110m) in the summer from Chelsea and was the key piece of their rebuild, the jewel in coach Zinedine Zidane’s crown.
After five games, however, Hazard hadn’t managed either a goal or an assist and alarm bells were starting to ring in the Spanish capital.
Hazard calmed nerves with an impressive pre-match press conference in the week, insisting he is as critical of himself as anyone.
“I’m not a Galactico yet,” said the winger, showing he isn’t big headed or arrogant enough to think he has made it by merely being at Madrid.
Unfortunately, his rendition in the match itself was far weaker, as Real Madrid stumbled to an embarrassing 2-2 draw with Club Brugge in the Champions League.
But in Zidane he has a coach who pushed for his signing and will not give up on him.
Hazard was handed another start as leaders Madrid hosted second-place Granada and this time he came up trumps for his manager and the demanding Bernabeu crowd.
After missing an early chance when sent through on goal, with Rui Silva making an excellent save to block his effort, it seemed like Hazard’s travails were set to continue.
However he picked himself up, dusted himself down and, finally, his goal came.
With Madrid one goal to the good after Karim Benzema’s early strike, Hazard doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time.
The Belgian’s deft chip was worth the wait, elegantly lofting the ball over Granada’s goalkeeper and into the net.
The Bernabeu rose as one to salute the man who should become their new hero. Hazard has it all and can shine on the biggest stage, once he finds his footing.
This match was a step towards that, cemented by his assist for Luka Modric as Madrid netted a third after the break.
It wasn’t the most impressive of set-ups, but they all count. Hazard’s neat dribble and pass invited Croatian midfielder Luka Modric to shoot from long range, his strike arrowing into the top corner.
Finally, Zidane’s project has wings, although their shaky defence again did its part to undermine that.
Granada’s first goal was also a moment of respite for Real Madrid’s other under-fire Belgian.
Thibaut Courtois has been slaughtered by fans and Madrid media for his poor form this season and his stomach bug kept him out of this clash.
However his stand-in, Alphonse Areola, made a massive error to hand the visitors a penalty in the second half, which was converted by Darwin Machis.
Then Domingos Duarte rattled in the second to leave the Bernabeu nervous in the final stages, a feeling they have become accustomed to in recent months.
That tension was finally relieved by James Rodriguez’s stoppage time goal, but the match belonged to Hazard – as does Madrid’s future.