MADRID: Real Madrid had Gonzalo Higuain’s 49th minute winner to thank for a 1-0 win over Racing Santander in the Spanish football league on Saturday, but the Spanish giant’s seventh successive league win did little to appease its fans’ concerns.
Argentine Higuain netted the decisive goal shortly after the restart, but Real was made to sweat as it awaited the final whistle at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Third-placed Sevilla fell nine points behind Real following a painful 2-1 derby defeat to Real Betis which puts more pressure on coach Manolo Jimenez.
Iker Casillas made history by making his 454th appearance to equal Paco Buya’s club record in the Real goal.
It was a heated match and tempers flared close to half-time when Racing striker Jonathan Perreira was fouled three times and the referee failed to take any action against Real.
Pepe cynically pushed Perreira to the floor before Gabriel Heinze and Fabio Cannavaro hacked the grounded striker.
The referee waved play on and livid Racing players encircled Heinze while words were also exchanged as both sets of players trudged off at half-time.
Racing then conceded four minutes into the second half with Higuain cutting inside before finishing with aplomb.
The Argentine should have scored again shortly afterwards but goalkeeper Antonio Martinez saved with an outstretched foot.
Big lead for Inter
Meanwhile in the Italian Serie ‘A,’ Inter Milan stretched its lead to eight points after the champion won 3-0 at Lecce and AC Milan could only draw 1-1 at home to bottom side Reggina on Saturday.
Davide Di Gennaro fired Reggina ahead on 33 minutes from Bernardo Corradi’s assist but the second-placed Milan equalised through Kaka’s 67th-minute penalty after Alexandre Pato was fouled.
Kaka also hit the post and substitute Clarence Seedorf had a goal ruled out when he used his hand to net the rebound.
Milan, fifth last season because of its shaky home form, had the majority of the play but a raft of David Beckham crosses went begging with the team lacking height in the box.
Ronaldinho started after almost a month on the bench, but was substituted in the second half having managed just one good run.
Inter was ahead on 12 minutes when Swedish talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic slammed his 14th league goal of the campaign after the busy Esteban Cambiasso laid the ball off having pretended to shoot.
Maicon missed from close range after the break but Luis Figo, 36, made sure it would not regret it when he headed in a cross from teenage left-back Davide Santon in the 71st minute.
Former Portugal captain Figo, used little this term having put off retirement at the end of last season, had not scored a league goal since a 3-0 win over Sampdoria in September 2007.
Dejan Stankovic nodded in Maicon’s free kick late on having again been a driving force for Inter, which operated with the Serbian and Figo behind lone front man Ibrahimovic.
Spanish Primera Liga: Real Madrid 1 (Higuain 49) bt Racing Santander 0; Sevilla 1 (Kanoute 90) lost to Real Betis 2 (Garcia 70, Oliveira 83).
Italian Serie ‘A’: AC Milan 1 (Kaka 67-pen) drew with Reggina 1 (Di Gennaro 33); Lecce 0 lost to Inter Milan 3 (Ibrahimovic 12, Figo 71, Stankovic 82). — Agencies