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Higuain leaves it late as Real stay top in Spain

Argentina star Gonzalo Higuain celebrates his late winner in the El Molinon stadium.
Argentina star Gonzalo Higuain celebrates his late winner in the El Molinon stadium.
  • Real Madrid beat Sporting Gijon 1-0 to stay top of the Spanish standings
  • Gonzalo Higuain scores only goal of the match in the 81st minute
  • Barcelona are one point adrift after a 3-1 win over Villarreal on Saturday
  • Real Madrid FC
  • FC Barcelona
  • Spain

(CNN) -- Gonzalo Higuain scored the only goal of the game with just nine minutes to go as Real Madrid scrambled a 1-0 away win at Sporting Gijon to stay top of the Spanish Primera.

Real looked set to be trailing their arch-rivals Barcelona after the defending champions had beaten third-placed Villarreal in the Camp Nou on Saturday night.

But with time running out, substitute Karim Benzema headed a Sergio Ramos cross which Juan Pablo in the home goal could only parry to leave Higuain with the simplest of tap-ins.

It was tough on Sporting and their coach Manolo Preciado, who was furious with his Real counterpart Jose Mourinho after the Portuguese suggested his side had not put up a fight when they played Barcelona.

Higuain hit the post early in the first half but Sporting always offered a threat on the break.

But after they fell behind tempers flared and in the final minute Alberto Botia was given a straight red for a robust challenge on Real's Cristiano Ronaldo.

In other action on Sunday, a late Alvaro Negredo goal gave 10-man Sevilla a 2-1 win over bottom side Real Zaragoza as they moved into a Champions League place.

Barcelona are a point adrift after 11 rounds as Argentine star Leo Messi scored twice for the champions in a superb 3-1 victory over in-form Villarreal on Saturday night.

David Villa scored the other goal with Brazilian Nilmar grabbing the Villarreal goal. They are now six points off the pace set by Real.