Europe: Gonzalo Higuain hits late winner to send Real back to top

Real Madrid climbed back above Barcelona to the top of La Liga when Gonzalo Higuain netted a late winner in a hard-fought 1-0 win at Sporting Gijon last night.

Barcelona had gone two points clear of their arch rivals with a 3-1 home win over third-placed Villarreal on Saturday, and Jose Mourinho's unbeaten Real side struggled against a Gijon side who had goalkeeper Juan Pablo in tremendous form.

Pablo produced three superb saves in the second half yet it was his handling error that led to Real's goal in the 82nd minute. The goalkeeper saved a headed effort from substitute Karim Benzema but palmed the ball straight to Hig-uain, who tapped the ball in.

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Alberto Botia was then shown a straight red card in the fourth minute of added time for a late challenge on Cristiano Ronaldo.

A moment of genius from Lionel Messi lit up the Nou Camp as Barcelona eased to victory over Villarreal.

With the teams tied at 1-1 after first-half goals from David Villa and Nilmar, Messi twice exchanged passes with Pedro, sped past the static defenders and, as Diego Lopez sprinted out, lifted a delicate angled chip over the Villarreal goalkeeper with his weaker right foot and into the empty net. Messi added a second in the 83rd minute.

In Serie A, a penalty from AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was enough to see off city rivals Inter 1-0 and return the Rosso-neri to the top. A fifth-minute spot kick from the former Inter striker ensured Milan moved ahead of Lazio at the summit.

Milan ended with ten men after Ignazio Abate was sent off on the hour mark.

Lazio earlier eased to a 2-0 win over Napoli. Mauro Zarate put the home side ahead in the 15th minute and Sergio Floccari sealed the win after an hour.