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Higuain keeps Real’s Galacticos on their toes
Gonzalo Higuain reminded Manuel Pellegrini of his worth at the weekend, scoring both goals for 10-man Real Madrid in their 2-0 victory over Getafe.
The Argentine youngster was Real’s top scorer with 22 league goals last season, but was making only his third start in nine league games on Saturday.
Higuain has found his chances limited with the arrival of president Florentino Perez and his new batch of Galacticos including Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Karim Benzema.
He also has to compete with the experienced heads of Raul and Ruud van Nistelrooy.
“We’ve had to integrate Benzema, Ronaldo and all the others into the team,” coach Manuel Pellegrini said after the Getafe game.
“I am sure that this season Higuain will have a major role to play again. For me he is a fundamental player.”
Higuain has pace, loves to run at defenders, and is not afraid of shooting from distance, but against Getafe he showed one of his most valuable assets which is a gutsy ability to score important goals in high-pressure situations.
The Getafe game was a tense affair at the Bernabeu where defeat could have signalled the end for Pellegrini, and the team had to endure a disgruntled home crowd after their humbling 4-0 King’s Cup defeat to third-tier Alcorcon.
Last season, in the same fixture, Higuain scored a screamer in time added on to give Real a 3-2 victory. His strike came as scuffles broke out all around him following Pepe’s spectacular loss of control that led to him getting a 10-match ban.
In 2008 he scored the goal that delivered Real’s 31st league title, when Bernd Schuster’s side came back with 10 men to beat Osasuna 2-1 away.
The year before that, he completed the remarkable comeback from 3-0 down against Espanyol, netting in the last minute for a 4-3 win that proved to be a psychological turning point in Fabio Capello’s title winning campaign.
After being overlooked by Argentina, Diego Maradona finally threw him on for his first cap against Peru last month and Higuain rose to the challenge scoring the first in a 2-1 win.
Higuain may not sell as many shirts around the world as the players in front of him at Real Madrid, but his fighting spirit should keep them on their toes.
PHOTO: Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain (R) fights for the ball with Getafe’s Cata Diaz during their Spanish First Division soccer match at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid October 31, 2009. REUTERS/Dani Cardona