Higuain keeps Real Madrid ahead of Barcelona
By Duncan Shaw Oct 29, 2011, 22:24 GMT
Madrid - Real Madrid went top of the Spanish first division on Saturday with a tight 1-0 win at Real Soiedad, thanks to an early goal from Gonzalo Higuain.
The whites now have 25 points from 10 games, one more than champions Barcelona, who caned Mallorca 5-0 at home earlier on Saturday. Real are two points above surprise package Levante, who need to win at Osasuna on Sunday on order to regain top spot.
Real managed to battle out their sixth straight win despite not playing well in San Sebastian. Sociedad started with a defensive 5-4-1 lineup but their plans to contain the visitors went up in smoke after just nine minutes when Higuain made it 1-0 with a clam chip after being set up by Fabio Coentrao.
Sociedad came out of their defensive shell in the second half and forced a couple of saves out of Real keeper Iker Casillas, but Higuain and company had few problems in holding out for another win.
Goalscorer Higuain said: 'We are a solid and compact team. We had to really fight and suffer tonight, it was not easy.'
Earlier on Saturday, Barca had enjoyed a 5-0 rout against feeble Mallorca.
Lionel Messi dispelled any possible doubts about his form by banging in a handsome hat-trick in the first 30 minutes.
The impish Argentine said afterwards: 'It was crazy for people to say that I was in a crisis just because I hadn't scored for three matches. But the important thing is not that I have scored, but that the team has won.'
Barca coach Pep Guardiola decided to rest playmakers Xavi and Andres Iniesta. One man who did not want to rest, however, was Messi, so keen was he to score after three games firing blanks.
The little Argentine made it 1-0 with a high penalty in the 14th minute, after a clear handball by Mallorca's Emilio Nsue. Nine minutes later Messi added a second goal with a right-foot volley, after Adriano had mis-hit a centre from Isaac Cuenca.
In the 30th minute Messi completed his hat-trick by volleying in a perfect long centre from Dani Alves. The FIFA World Player is now top of the scorers' chart with 13 goals.
In the 51st minute Thiago set up fellow youngster Isaac Cuenca to make it 4-0, with his first goal for Barca. Guardiola then delighted the Camp Nou by bringing on, for his debut, yet another promising tyro in 17 year-old winger Gerard Deulofeu.
Alves completed the fiesta in stoppage time by making it 5-0 with an impudent, astonishing long-range drive, which went in off the crossbar at the near post.
Earlier on Saturday, Valencia had moved up to fourth with a 3-1 home defeat of lowly Getafe.
French youngster Sophiane Feghouli, making a rare start in the Valencia midfield, delighted Mestalla with two first-half goals.
Diego Castro pulled a goal back for Getafe, but supersub Aritz Aduriz secured the three points for the hosts by making it 3-1, 14 minutes from time.
Valencia have 21 points, four more than fifth-placed Sevilla.
Valencia coach Unai Emery said: 'This is the first time this season that we have won by more than one goal, and of course I am very pleased. Now we have to continue down this path, with the same concentration.'
In Saturday's other early game, Villarreal put their poor form and injuries behind them to beat Rayo Vallecano 2-0 at home, with goals from international midfielders Bruno Soriano and Borja Valero.
It was Villarreal's first win in six games and lifts them above the danger zone into 13th place, at the same time as relieving the pressure on embattled coach Juan Carlos Garrido.