Carlo Ancelotti’s men had been under pressure heading into their first European clash of the season, but a first-half flurry ensured they eased to three points.
Real Madrid bounced back from successive defeats by thrashing Basel 5-1 to open the defence of their Champions League crown on Tuesday.
A scintillating display provided the perfect tonic for Saturday’s 2-1 loss to fierce rivals Atletico Madrid, with Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and James Rodriguez on the scoresheet after Marek Suchy’s own goal had set them on their way in the first half of the Group B clash.
Derlis Gonzalez reduced the arrears before half-time but Real – who achieved La Decima last season – ultimately sent out a clear signal of intent to their European rivals, with Karim Benzema scoring the goal of the night 11 minutes from time.
Carlo Ancelotti has come under some pressure after overseeing an underwhelming start to the domestic campaign but, despite the defeat to Atleti, he made just one change as Nacho came in for Alvaro Arbeloa.
And it was the right-back who was celebrating when Real took the lead in the 14th minute, although he surely realised that the goal would not be his.
James’ back heel found Nacho in the box and his cross hit Suchy, wrong-footing Czech compatriot Tomas Vaclik in the Basel goal.
The hosts continued to dominate possession and, after Marcelo fired over, Luka Modric stung Vaclik’s palms from long distance by way of another warning shot.
But there was nothing the goalkeeper could do when Real struck three times in seven minutes before the break.
Modric was influential in the first two, setting up Bale to net with a composed two-touch finish, before his superb outside-of-the-boot pass found the Welshman who in turn fed Ronaldo to tap in.
The game was over as a contest when James pounced to stab home after Benzema’s shot was parried.
Basel, smarting from a 3-1 defeat against Grasshopper Zurich that prompted four changes, pulled one back immediately as Gonzalez – one of those to have been drafted in – capped a swift break with a precise finish.
The tempo dipped after the break and some of Real’s defensive frailties were exposed, Iker Casillas producing a fine reflex save from Gonzalez following a mistake by substitute Raphael Varane.
Bale should have grabbed his second in the 72nd minute after gathering James’ pass and bearing down on goal, but his toe-poked effort was turned around the post for a corner by Vaclik.
Fabian Schar struck a post from 20 yards in the last 15 minutes to underline an apparent sense of complacency among Ancelotti’s charges, but the hosts were just saving the best until last.
Benzema and Ronaldo combined on the edge of the box to bamboozle the Basel defence and the Frenchman unleashed a stunning strike that struck the underside of the bar before bouncing in.
But Real will now turn back to the harsh reality of their plight in the Spanish top flight, where a return of just three points from three games has left them 13th.