Higuain's winner keeps Real on course

Valencia stroll past Getafe; Sevilla edge out Zaragoza

Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain exults after scoring his side’s winner against Sporting Gijon on Sunday. AFP

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 on Sunday. “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.

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

In other matches, 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 games.

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.”

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.

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