Cristiano Ronaldo gave Madrid the lead with a free kick following what looked like a fairly harmless challenge and after Richmond Boakye had leveled in the 92nd minute, the Portuguese handed his side a last-gasp win from the penalty spot as he converted a highly contentious spot kick deep into added time.
Home fans thought the final whistle should have been blown by then (even though Elche scored in added time), while the penalty award (for an alleged foul by Carlos Sanchez on Pepe) was another dubious decision. Referee Cesar Muniz Fernandez had also earlier failed to send off Sergio Ramos for a cynical body-check on Ferran Corominas when the Madrid defender had already been booked.
"I'm watching a comedy film on Canal + Liga," Pique tweeted after the final whistle. "It's always good this time of night."
But later, Arbeloa hit back as he wrote: "Very happy with the three points! [And] I'm glad some people have swapped theatre for cinema, that's always good!"
Elche's dramatic defeat on Wednesday means the promoted side remain in the bottom three after six rounds of matches and coach Fran Escriba was furious with referee Muniz Fernandez.
"I don't plan to talk about the referee," he told reporters after the game. "I say it sincerely. If I start to analyse the second yellow card [not given] for Ramos, the penalty at the end or the excessive time added on, I believe it is not worth talking about that gentleman (Muniz Fernandez). Even if I complain, I have nothing to gain."
Meanwhile, midfielder Carlos Sanchez was indignant at the decision to award a penalty for his challenge on Pepe in the fourth minute of added time. "He [Pepe] tugged me and pulled me to the ground," the Colombian complained. And his teammate Edu Albacar added: "The feeling we have is that we were robbed..."
Pepe, however, claimed the spot kick award was justified. "The Elche player grabbed me and pushed me to the ground," the defender said. But Edu Albacar refuted that version. "Pepe is blind..." he added.
Madrid boss Ancelotti was more calm, but called for improvement if his side is to have a chance of beating Atletico in the capital's derby clash on Saturday. "It is better to talk on the pitch than off it," he explained. "But if we play like we did tonight, we won't win the derby."
Real remains two points behind Barcelona and Atleti (both with six wins apiece) after six rounds of the Primera Division.