Federico Valverde was involved in both of Madrid's best first-half chances. The Uruguayan midfielder's shot was brilliantly denied by Valladolid keeper Roberto Jimenez, before crossing for Luka Jovic, who put a very presentable opportunity high and wide.
Jovic was unlucky not to find the net after the break with a well-placed header, and Casemiro hit the bar with the rebound. Substitute Vinicius broke the deadlock, scoring after some hapless Valladolid defending saw the ball diverted to him unmarked in front of goal.
Real Madrid's enviable strength in depth was on full display here, first in coach Zinedine Zidane's rotation for the team's second game in four days, and then with his ability to bring on the likes of Vinicius and Marco Asensio when the starting XI hadn't quite clicked. That deep bench was crucial to Madrid's La Liga title win last season and it will be equally important to whatever they achieve this year.
Madrid's biggest worry here wasn't on the pitch, but watching in the stands. This match was supposed to see Eden Hazard return to the team, but the star forward's withdrawal the day after picking up yet another injury was a fresh blow to his attempts to justify his €100 million signing. Hazard has missed more games than he has played in a Real Madrid shirt, and the pressure on him to deliver will only increase during this latest absence.
Manager rating (out of 10)
7 -- Zidane often surprises with his team selections, and that was true here. He made four changes to the side that beat Real Betis 3-2 on Saturday, Marcelo and Alvaro Odriozola drafted in at full-back, and Luka Modric and Isco brought into midfield. Even more surprising was Zidane's decision to stick with a front two, keeping the faith in Jovic alongside Karim Benzema.
Zidane wasn't too happy with what followed, because a triple substitution and a switch to a 4-3-3 formation with an hour gone saw Asensio, Vinicius and Dani Carvajal thrown on. The change worked, and it helped Madrid take all three points.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Thibaut Courtois, 8 -- A quiet first half was followed by a hugely impressive second. Three top saves, one from Valladolid's Shon Weissman on the break, another from Raul Carnero at the near post, and then from Waldo Rubio from distance.
DF Alvaro Odriozola, 7 -- His first Madrid appearance since December 2019, after spending the second half of last season at Bayern Munich. Lasted almost an hour, and was almost caught out defensively once or twice, his strength being his ability to push forward.
DF Raphael Varane, 7 -- Varane looks to have recovered from his catastrophic performance against Manchester City in the Champions League last month, and is now in very good form. Carried the ball out of defence and almost to the corner flag just before half-time.
DF Sergio Ramos, 7 -- Played his usual game, getting forwards at every opportunity, and looking to create chances in attack as much as prevent them in defence.
DF Marcelo, 6 -- In the team for the first time this season with Ferland Mendy rested. Almost cost his team when he went to the ground during a Valladolid counterattack before Courtois saved from Weissman.
MF Casemiro, 7 -- Reacted quickly to shoot against the bar after Jovic's header was saved. Picked up a booking later on and got away with another foul after that.
MF Federico Valverde, 8 -- Madrid's best player in the first half, appearing on the right of midfield. Almost followed his goal against Betis with an early strike here, and then showed great pace to get forward and cross for Jovic.
MF Luka Modric, 8 -- Very good indeed. So much authority and composure on the ball, and he hit the woodwork in the second half.
MF Isco, 6 -- A quiet game, his most notable moment coming when a breakdown in communication with Benzema saw him deprive the striker of a chance to head toward goal.
FW Karim Benzema, 7 -- Seems less sure of his role in the team with Jovic alongside him but grew into the game when Vinicius and Asensio came on. Had a curling second-half shot saved, and then unselfishly passed to play in Vinicius when in on goal.
FW Luka Jovic, 7 -- Better. The first time he's started back-to-back league games for Madrid and he showed some early promise, finding Marcelo in the move that led to Valverde's chance, before missing a golden opportunity to open the scoring himself. His second-half header, kept out by Roberto, deserved a goal.
DF Dani Carvajal, 6 -- Came on for Odriozola in a like-for-like swap.
FW Marco Asensio, 6 -- Replaced Isco, played on the right of a front three, and looked lively.
FW Vinicius Junior, 8 -- Brought on for Jovic to offer pace on the left and scored seven minutes later. Vinicius sometimes frustrates with his decision-making, but there's no question he makes things happen.
FW Borja Mayoral, N/R -- Subbed on for Benzema with a few minutes left.