Saturday, April 2, 2011

Real Madrid 0-1 Sporting Gijon

Real Madrid were forced to play a complicated match against Sporting Gijon following a league stoppage due to international matches, and lacking Cristiano Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso, Benzema and Marcelo. The goal scored by De las Cuevas was an unfair blow to a team that constantly looked to win the match. Real Madrid must now focus on preparing for Tuesday's Champions League clash with Tottenham Hotspur.

Mourinho decided to reserve Pepe for the Champions League and played Adebayor, Granero and Albiol in the starting lineup. The effort that could have changed the game entirely came in the first minute: Granero sent the ball to the box, Albiol prolongued the pass and Carvalho scored between the posts, but the goal was disallowed by the referee. Real Madrid controlled the match throughout the first half and Sporting didn't suffer much thanks to their solid defence. There were no more chances on goal from either team before half-time.

Real Madrid played a faster and more offensive game in the second half. Mourinho wanted a goal and decided to let Higuain make his comeback on the 56-minute mark amidst a standing ovation from the crowd. The Argentine striker had a great chance three minutes later, but goalkeeper Juan Carlos cleared it with a great save. Di Maria was forced to leave the pitch in the 70th minute due to a niggle and was replaced by Canales.

Sporting eventually scored from the only dangerous effort they pulled off in the entire game. De las Cuevas managed to defeat Casillas with a tight strike that grazed the near post (78'). Real Madrid were forced to do their best to try to score a goal. Adebayor nearly netted a strike on the 82-minute mark, but the keeper saved the day. The ball landed at Khedira's feet, who also shot on target, but Juan Pablo again cleared it.

A shot from Ozil grazed the corssbar six minutes later, and Adebayor then had a one-on-one with the keeper, who again cleared a chance. It wasn't the Togolese player's lucky day and his despair grew with each missed shot. In extra time, Ramos nearly scored on the goal-line, but the ball was barely cleared by a defender.

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