Higuain grants Real derby relief
Gonzalo Higuain struck both goals as ten-man Real Madrid produced a superb performance to see off local rivals Getafe and end a traumatic week on a high. Madrid went into the match under huge pressure following Tuesday's humiliating 4-0 Copa del Rey loss at third tier Alcorcon - their third defeat in five games - and with Spanish media speculating that coach Manuel Pellegrini's job was on the line.
And when Madrid centre-back Raul Albiol was shown a straight red card in the 27th minute, it looked set to be another night of misery for the big-spending Spanish giants. But, as is often the case when a team goes a man down, the home side found a determination and commitment that enabled them to not merely match Getafe, but to dominate most of the rest of the match.
Lassana Diarra and Kaka were outstanding, as were a number of other players, but it was Higuain who will take all the plaudits after scoring twice at the start of the second half and then hitting the woodwork in a superb display. The result means Madrid have now won seven of their nine league matches.
Getafe looked slick and confident early on, as opposed to a disjointed Madrid, but it was still the home side who created the first decent opportunity in the 15th minute, which Marcelo spurned. That was the main incident from the opening stages, up until when Madrid were reduced to ten men.
Roberto Soldado and Albiol battled for a hopeful long ball down the middle, and when the Getafe striker went sprawling on the edge of the box the referee not only awarded a free-kick to the away side, but also produced a red card, leaving Madrid to play over an hour a man down.
Far from finding themselves on the back foot after that though, Madrid actually held the upper hand for the remainder of the first half, before going on to totally dominate the second period. Sergio Ramos, Xabi Alonso and Higuain all tried their luck from the edge of the box, but it was Karim Benzema who came closest to breaking the deadlock in the 35th minute when he was denied by the feet of Getafe goalkeeper Oscar Ustari.
It was a fine save by Ustari, but it was surpassed by his opposite number Iker Casillas just before the break as the Spain international brilliantly palmed away Soldado's header, as Getafe almost snatched the lead on the stroke of half-time. That was a vital save at a crucial time, and Madrid ensured it would not be wasted as they blitzed Getafe with a stunning ten-minute spell that decided the match.
Diarra and Benzema both went agonisingly close to putting the hosts ahead before Higuain did just that in the 53rd minute. Marcelo's cross-field pass split the Getafe centre-backs and Higuain controlled the ball on his chest, took his time and then smashed a rising left-footed shot into the near top corner.
That sent the Bernabeu crowd into delirium, but it was about to get much better for the home side as Higuain made it 2-0 two minutes later. Diarra stole possession near the halfway line. Benzema then picked the ball up before putting Higuain clear down the middle and the Argentinian charged into the area before slotting a low shot past Ustari.
Incredibly, Higuain came within inches of completing a stunning 12-minute hat-trick when he broke clear from his own half before drilling a low shot against the far post. Higuain, who has made a habit of scoring crucial goals since joining Madrid three years ago, had done his job though, and he was given a deserved standing ovation by the home faithful when he made way for captain Raul late on.
Madrid had heroes all over the pitch though, and Casillas also played his part in the victory, saving from Soldado and Jaime Gavilan, as the home side claimed a memorable victory.