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Real Madrid Vs. Sporting Gijón, La Liga 2012 Match Recap: Trio of Strikers Save the Day

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Real Madrid was losing La Liga for more than 74 minutes. Mourinho's team had to overcome a one-goal deficit for yet another game after Sporting Gijón managed to score off a questionable penalty commited by Sergio Ramos. Sporting's narrow defense and Real Madrid's lack of pace when moving the ball made things really hard for los blancos during the whole game.

Mourinho decided to start Nuri Sahin in Xabi Alonso's place. Marcelo, Higuaín and Callejón returned to the starting lineup as well. Nuri Sahin had a lot of time to think through every possession, but unlike when he was in Dortmund playing for Borussia, he was almost invisible at creating good chances and finding Real Madrid's most important players in dangerous positions.

Real Madrid started the game very patiently. The team knew Sporting Gijón was going to play defensively, so the players took the slow road to minimize Gijón's chances and wear their players down. It's fair to say that Mourinho's team didn't do a single thing during the first 20 minutes. Arbeloa was terrible tonight and he even lost some important balls that allowed Sporting to attack a little.

The team lost the ball in the 30th minute and Gijón went to the counterattack against Pepe. The Portuguese defender chose to cover Sporting's winger instead of stopping the ball. This was the right decision, as Nuri SAhin was able to touch the ball and allegedly stop the counterattack. The ball went right were the other attacker was, but Sergio Ramos arrived there and tackled. The ball rolled over Ramos' chest and the referee called the penalty thinking the Spanish defender had touched the ball with his hand. The replay didn't show a clear handball, so whether the call was right or wrong remains into question.

De las Cuevas converted the penalty and Real Madrid now had to convert two goals in order to maintain La Liga title in their hands. One of the players inside Gijón's bench tried to stop one of Madrid's attacks by introducing another ball in the pitch. The crowd saw this and started to press a lot more.

Luckily enough for Real Madrid, Sergio Ramos crossed the ball from the left wing (yes, he was there after a corner-kick) and Higuaín was able to strike the ball with his head inside the net in the 37th minute. The team celebrated this goal effusively but wasn't able to create more chances before the first half concluded.

Mourinho decided to make two substitutions before the second half kicked off. Nuri Sahin left the field for Ángel Di María and Callejón left the field for Karim Benzema. Mesut Özil then moved back his position and played beside Sami Khedira. Özil first half was very bad, but in the second one he played right how Sahin should've done so during the first 45 minutes.

But Real Madrid still patiently waited. The crowd was anxious and the players started to feel the pressure. But the minutes passed and the team still failed at scaring Gijón's goalkeeper. But Di María received the ball in the right wing in the 74th minute and crossed it to the box. Cristiano Ronaldo won the ball and scored with a very precise header. Once again, the Portuguese star scored a decisive goal for his team.

Mourinho removed Higuaín from the field and introduced Esteban Granero instead. Granero helped the team by slowing things down. Real Madrid didn't need to score any other goal, so now Gijón had to go after the ball and leave some space behind their defenders. Benzema took profit from this space in the 82nd minute after a great assist by Özil to sentence the game.

Real Madrid now will get to Saturday's Clásico with at least a four-point margin. But they will first have to visit the Allianz Arena for the Champions League fixture against Bayern Munich.

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