Madrid was held to a goalless draw at Real Sociedad in its opener and then required a late Sergio Ramos penalty to beat Real Betis on Sunday (AEST), and a lack of cutting edge threatened to prove costly on their return to the Santiago Bernabeu.
Luka Jovic – a reported Manchester United target – was particularly guilty, missing two golden chances before the break.
Jovic’s frustration was compounded in the second half – his replacement Vinicius on hand to snatch a precious winner to send Madrid level with leaders Getafe.
The frustrating tone was set early as Roberto made an instinctive stop to keep Madrid at bay in the 10th minute, springing to his right to turn Federico Valverde's cushioned volley around the post.
Jovic helped craft that chance, but the former Eintracht Frankfurt man soon squandered a huge opportunity of his own as he inexplicably missed the target when found in front of goal by Valverde.
He was wasteful again 10 minutes before half-time, lashing past the left-hand post following a smart Luka Modric touch.
The Serbia forward saw a header saved by Roberto after the restart, with Casemiro slamming the rebound against the crossbar, with a subsequent chance for Shon Weissman – who was denied by Thibaut Courtois – provoking Zinedine Zidane into a triple-change.
Jovic was among those to make way and the move prompted the opener, with Vinicius profiting on a deflection in the area to finish coolly.
Courtois had to be alert to parry away a wayward Raul Garcia cross, yet Madrid might have added to its lead in the closing stages as Modric exposed Roberto's poor positioning but struck the base of the upright.