Carlo Ancelotti lamented Real Madrid's late showing for inviting "unnecessary suffering" in what should have been a more comfortable victory over Cadiz.
Madrid will head into November's World Cup break trailing LaLiga leaders Barcelona by two points after overcoming Cadiz 2-1 on Thursday.
Eder Militao's second goal in as many games and a thunderous Toni Kroos volley seemingly had Madrid cruising to victory, before Lucas Perez's 81st-minute strike ensured a nervy ending at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Ancelotti acknowledged there were a lot of positives to take from Madrid's first victory in three league games, though the Blancos coach was frustrated to see his side concede late on.
"Yes, we played very well until 2-1. We were able to score 3-0 with [Luka] Modric, who had an easy chance," the Italian told DAZN.
"Then it's normal. It was unnecessary suffering. Three deserved points and we finished well [before the World Cup]."
Modric, who will aim for World Cup glory with Croatia in Qatar, missed a gilt-edged chance at 2-0 up as he fired wide of an open goal following Vinicius Junior's offload.
The failure in front of goal did not come back to haunt Madrid, allowing Ancelotti to joke about the miss, saying: "I've told him Croatia have already given him the call-up, so he won't have a problem."
Cadiz attempted to ruffle Madrid feathers by imposing their physical presence, leading to six yellow cards being shown in an ill-tempered clash.
Vinicius voiced his displeasure in the first half after team-mate Rodrygo and centre-back Fali clashed off the ball, with Ancelotti stunned by the lack of retrospective VAR action.
"Yes, they told me that [Fali] punched [Rodrygo]. I saw a video and it seemed like an attack to me," Ancelotti said of the altercation where Fali appeared to elbow the Madrid attacker.
The Cadiz defender suggested he may have let the heat of the moment get to him, too.
"In the end it's true that I did hit him. He says it's an elbow and I say no," Fali said. "I try to stop him and try to grab him. The VAR sees it and gives me a yellow card.
"In this action maybe, I went a little too far. It is not to hurt him. The still image seems to be more than it is. I try to grab his head. He says that I elbowed him, and tell him I did not."
Madrid will not be in action until a trip to Real Valladolid on December 31 after the break for the World Cup.