REAL MADRID 1 Higuain 82
A late goal from Gonzalo Higuain gave Real Madrid all three points at El Molinon and sent Los Blancos back to the summit of La Liga. Madrid had switched places with Barcelona on Saturday as the champions beat Villarreal at the Nou Camp by three goals to one.
In contrast to Barca’s clash, Madrid’s game was by no means a classic or pretty game to watch as Sporting threatened early on in the first-half to try and catch Real on the back foot. It was the visitors who created the first chance of the game though, when Angel Di Maria fed Higuain but the Argentine was denied by the up-right.
Serving the first of his two-match suspension, Jose Mourinho watched from the stands as his side went close again – Mesut Ozil finding himself unmarked but managing to blast over the bar from 6 yards out. Sporting replied with a opportunity themselves following good work from Diego Castro down the left hand side as Carmelo failed to connect properly with a cross and the ball went wide.
The second-half started at a frantic pace as the visitors went in search of the win; it was Higuain who was the main threat for Madrid, producing a great save from the Sporting Gijon keeper Juan Pablo and then nodding in from a corner only to be denied by the offside flag.
Mourinho’s team-talk seemed to have an effect on his team as they continued to play high tempo football and gave Gijon little time on the ball and went close through substitute Benzema and Marcelo but were yet again denied by Juan Pablo.
The deadlock was eventually broken in the 82nd minute when Karim Benzema headed down a Sergio Ramos cross straight into the path of Higuain who had the easiest of tap-ins from two yards out.
Cristiano Ronaldo struggled to have an impact on the game with the Gijon team deciding to double and sometimes triple up on the striker to stop the threat down the left hand side. The Portuguese star was involved in a late incident that resulted in defender Botia being red carded for a lunge on the Portuguese international.
The game on Sunday was a real test of Madrid’s character and, just like they did in the San Siro two weeks ago, they managed to dig deep and grind out a result, something that they haven’t been able to do in recent seasons. Mourinho’s teams in the past have been able to win ugly which is a crucial part of winning trophies at any level, the true test will be in two weeks time where they will come up against bitter rivals Barcelona in the first Clasico of the season at the Camp Nou.
Before that, Madrid will be hoping to maintain their incredible unbeaten run with a game against Athletic Bilbao at the Santiago Bernabeu next Saturday.