Higuain gives Madrid 1-0 win over Sporting Gijon

Gonzalo Higuain`s late goal gave Real Madrid a 1-0 win at Sporting Gijon to stay top of the Spanish league.

Barcelona: Gonzalo Higuain`s late goal gave
Real Madrid a 1-0 win at Sporting Gijon to stay top of the
Spanish league.

Higuain darted in with eight minutes to play to tap in
the rebound of a header from Benzema that goalkeeper Juan
Pablo Colinas could not control yesterday.

"It was a very difficult game, but the team was well
positioned on the pitch," said Madrid captain Iker Casillas.

The win moved Madrid to 29 points, one ahead of Barcelona
after it beat third-place Villarreal 3-1 on Saturday.

Madrid had the most scoring chances, but an inspired
Colinas kept Sporting in the match until the final stretch.

Higuain hit the post in the 10th minute, and fellow
Argentina forward Angel Di Maria shot over the crossbar from
close range shortly after.

In Sporting`s most threatening approach in the first
half, striker Gaston Sangoy found Diego Castro just outside
the six-yard box but Pepe was quick to block his attempt in
the 21st.

"In the first half, we were affected by the confusion on
the field," said Madrid assistant coach Aitor Karanka, who was
in charge with Jose Mourinho serving the first of a two-game
ban for insulting the referee in the Copa Del Rey win over
Murcia midweek.

"It was an important game to win the three points."
Madrid continued to dominate possession, and an active
Higuain had a goal disallowed for offside in the 55th. A
minute later, Sangoy showed pace and hit a shot from a tight
angle that passed in front of Casilla`s goal.

Colinas made a great save in a one-one-one challenge with
Higuain in the 68th, and on the very next play, Sangoy again
saw his crossing shot skip across the area and barely miss the
far post.

The Sporting goalkeeper blocked a sharp strike from Karim
Benzema, who came on in the second half for Di Maria, with 15
minutes to play.

A minute after Higuain`s goal, Casillas saved a header
from David Barral right on the goal line to protect the lead.

"It was a quick block, the ball was heading to the corner
of the net and it was more a reflex save," said Casillas.

Alberto Botia was shown a red card for a tackle of
Cristiano Ronaldo in injury time.

Earlier yesterday, Valencia strolled to a 2-0 win over
Getafe, Alvaro Negredo`s last-minute goal gave 10-man Sevilla
a 2-1 win at Zaragoza and Hercules rallied to beat Real
Sociedad 2-1.

Valencia`s first win in four weeks moved it to fourth
place, ahead of Sevilla on goal difference with both sharing
20 points, while Getafe extended its losing streak to three

Alberto Tino Costa notched Valencia`s eighth-minute
opener controlling a pass from Juanma Mata with his chest
before firing into goal.

David Navarro added the second in the 62nd, striking home
the rebound of his own header off a well-taken free kick by

Getafe never threatened to come back, and Valencia had
multiple opportunities to turn the game into a rout in the
second half.

With time expiring at La Romareda stadium, substitute
Negredo recovered the ball near midfield and dribbled to the
edge of the area before slotting past goalkeeper Antonio

"The team was very ambitious and never gave the game up
for lost," Sevilla manager Gregorio Manzano said. "Everything
looked to be against us but we are very happy to take back the
three points to Seville."

With the loss, Zaragoza fell to last place on seven
points with its fans holding a banner that read: "For the lost
dignity, Zaragoza deserves more."

Sevilla`s opener came when Luis Fabiano used his speed to
get behind the defense and blast in Frederic Kanoute`s
perfectly timed pass from the right side of the penalty area
in the 29th.

Nicolas Bertolo, who had come on at halftime, equalized
for Zaragoza in the 53rd through a header off a corner by
Gabriel Fernandez.

Sevilla played the last 18 minutes a man down when
defender Fernando Navarro was shown a red card for pulling
down Braulio Nobrega.

At Jose Rico Perez stadium, Hercules fell behind in the
16th when Antoine Griezman finished off the rebound from a
shot by Carlos Martinez.

David Trezeguet recorded his sixth goal of the season to
level for Hercules in the 47th, and Drenthe scored his first
goal for the club in the 52nd from a free kick that Bravo
could do nothing to stop.

Also, Malaga beat Levante 1-0 while Racing Santander
versus Espanyol and Mallorca versus Deportivo La Coruna ended
in scoreless draws.

It was the second win for Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini
and his team`s first in the league at La Roselada thanks to a
25-meter strike by Eliseu in the 64th, lifting the team out of
the relegation zone.

On Saturday, Atletico Madrid climbed to 17 points through
its 3-0 rout of Osasuna, which stayed on 12 points, and
nine-man Athletic Bilbao held on to beat Almeria 1-0 to
improve to 16 points.

Bureau Report