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Real Madrid rallies for 3-2 win over Getafe

GONZALO Higuain's second goal of the night in injury time helped Real Madrid rally for a 3-2 win over Getafe in the Spanish league yesterday.

Higuain ran into the area three minutes into injury time and sent a rising left-footed shot in for the winner, which came during a closing eight minutes that included four goals, a red card for Madrid defender Pepe and a Getafe penalty miss.

Madrid improved to 75 points, three behind league leader Barcelona, which can reclaim its six-point lead with a victory over Sevilla today.

Robert Soldado headed Getafe into the lead in the 10th minute, but Higuain jumped on a defensive lapse to even the score in the 45th.

The drama really picked up from the 84th, after substitute Juan Angel Albin put Getafe ahead 2-1.

Jose Maria "Guti" Gutierrez equalized from a free kick in the 86th before Pepe was red-carded for a series of aggressive actions that began with a shove on Javier Casquero inside the area to set up the penalty.

Pepe then kicked Casquero in the back as he lay on the ground before stamping on the Getafe midfielder several times. Pepe then punched Albin as players attempted to pry the Portuguese player away.

"It was a very tense moment in the match and in that moment I had no option but to foul him," Pepe told Cope radio. "I showed very poor character, this sort of thing never happens with me normally."

Pepe also made an expletive in reference to the fourth official as he left the field according to the referee's match report. The Portugal defender could miss out on the last six games of the season, including a May 2 "clasico" against Barcelona.

"I don't know why I did it," Pepe said. "The least I could do was to come here and apologize to all the fans because they know I'm not violent."

Madrid's Marcelo goaded Cata Diaz after the final whistle with players stepping in to hold the Getafe defender back.

"That's not football," Getafe president Angel Torres said. "And what Marcelo did after isn't right either. It's provocative and I think that the disciplinary committee needs to take action."

Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas easily saved Casquero's low-chipped penalty moments after the skirmishes. And Higuain then scored his 18th goal of the season to give the Spanish champions their 17th win in the last 18 league games.

Also on Tuesday, Fernando Llorente scored a 49th-minute winner to give 10-man Athletic Bilbao a 2-1 win at last-place Numancia in a matchup of teams trying to avoid the drop.

Domingo Cisma's left-footed shot in the 10th gave Numancia the lead at Los Pajaritos Stadium before the visitors were reduced to 10 men in the 20th after Aitor Ocio was sent off for a second yellow card after obstructing Asier Goiria's run.

Gaizka Toquerro started the rally in the 30th before Llorente slotted the winner from just inside the area for his 13th goal of the season and first in more than a month.

Numancia also finished with 10 men after Sergio Boris was sent off in the 71st.

Scenes of jubilation accompanied Higuain's late winner at the Santiago Bernabeu as Madrid maintained the pressure on Barcelona.

Getafe started strongly with the opening goal coming from a pair of former Madrid players after Pepe misjudged Eteban Granero's cross from the right which Soldado turned on goal with Casillas getting a hand to the header but unable to keep it out.

Buoyed by the opener, Getafe pressed ahead for a second and took advantage of a shaky period for the hosts when the defense was happy to just clear away any danger.

Madrid finally settled and Raul Gonzalez slipped a ball down the left of the area for Higuain, with Diaz unable to hold his own against the Madrid forward who would round goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic to score from a short angle.

Madrid drew confidence off the equalizer at the start of the second half, when Arjen Robben was also inserted into the lineup, with Getafe defenders scrambling to block decent efforts by Raul and Klaas-Jan Hunterlaar by the 56th.

Robben would come off with a leg problem moments after Getafe substitute Albin was played clear into the area in the 62nd, but failed to control Soldado's pass with only Casillas to beat.

Madrid's defensive misgivings were apparent after coach Juande Ramos replaced center back Fabio Cannavaro with Javi Garcia, who was badly trailing the play when Albin scored Getafe's second.

But Madrid's late pressure paid off with Guti curling into the top corner before Pepe's ill-advised actions.

In the other 32nd round of games this week, it's: Osasuna vs. Malaga; Deportivo La Coruna vs. Almeria; Real Betis vs. Valencia; Villarreal vs. Recreativo Huelva; Sporting Gijon vs. Espanyol; Racing Santander vs. Atletico Madrid; and Mallorca vs. Valladolid.


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