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Higuain seals Real win but Sevilla falls to Betis

A CLINICAL finish by Gonzalo Higuain gave Real Madrid a 1-0 home win over Racing Santander on Saturday and a seventh successive Primera Liga victory that trimmed Barcelona's lead at the top to nine points.

Third-placed Sevilla lost further ground on Real after goals from Sergio Garcia and new signing Ricardo Oliveira gave Real Betis a 2-1 win at the Sanchez Pizjuan and condemned its city rival to a third consecutive league defeat.

Champion Real has 47 points from 22 matches behind Barcelona which was hosting Sporting Gijon later. Sevilla is third on 38 while Betis moves up to 13th on 25, easing the pressure on under-fire coach Paco Chaparro, and Racing stays 10th with 28.

Argentine forward Higuain grabbed the only goal at the Bernabeu when he raced on to Raul's headed pass, turned inside a sliding challenge from Cesar Navas and clipped the ball over Racing goalkeeper Tono into the far corner.

The lively Jonathan Pereira had a chance to level with 15 minutes left but Real keeper Iker Casillas raced out to block the forward's shot and Fabio Cannavaro cleared.

Raul equalled Alfredo di Stefano's club scoring record of 307 goals last weekend and almost grabbed the honor for himself in the first half with a shot blocked by Tono.

Sevilla had most of the best chances in a game littered with fouls but its night was ruined when midfielder Aldo Duscher was dismissed for a second yellow card with about 20 minutes left and Garcia scored immediately after.

Oliveira scored a second late on when he fired the ball under keeper Andreas Palop. Mali striker Frederic Kanoute snatched a consolation goal for Sevilla in added time with a precise header.

In France, Paris St. Germain moved within one point of Ligue 1 leader Olympique Lyon when a Ludovic Giuly double helped secure a 4-1 win at Nantes on Saturday.

Third-placed PSG now has 42 points from 23 games, level with second-placed Girondins Bordeaux which was at Olympique Marseille, which is sixth with 38.

Seven-time champion Lyon, which has been struggling this year, visits Nice.

Toulouse rose to fourth on 41 points with a 2-0 win at home to Le Mans thanks to Moussa Sissoko's strike before the break and Andre-Pierre Gignac's 14th this season late on.


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