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Real fight back, stay on top

sports Updated: Mar 21, 2010 22:33 IST

Real Madrid secured their ninth straight win after coming from behind to beat Sporting Gijon 3-1 on Saturday to open up a three-point gap over rivals Barcelona.

The home side were the better team in the first half but lacked the killer touch in front of goal with Gonzalo Higuain missing two excellent chances.

After the break, Sporting went ahead against the run of play through David Barral. Just a minute later, Rafael Van der Vaart brought Real level, although replays suggest he controlled the ball with his hand, and then Xabi Alonso headed them into the lead.

Higuain finally got on the scoresheet to finish off the threat from Sporting.

A surprise 2-0 defeat for Deportivo La Coruna against Valladolid allowed Athletic Bilbao to move above them into a Europa League place. The visitors took the game to Deportivo from the start and Nauzet Aleman put Valladolid ahead six minutes before half time. Deportivo showed little guile or invention in the second half and in injury time Valladolid scored again on the counter-attack through Haris Medunjanin.

Athletic snatched sixth place despite conceding an equaliser to finish 2-2 with Getafe.

Leaders Inter milan draw 1-1 at Palermo

MILAN: Exhausted Inter Milan risked surrendering their Serie A lead after drawing 1-1 at fourth-placed Palermo on Saturday.

Third-placed AS Roma are four points behind the leaders after Mirko Vucinic grabbed a hattrick in a 4-2 win at home to Udinese.

Argentina striker Diego Milito gave Inter the lead on 11 minutes when he blasted home a penalty after Lucio had been hauled down by defender Cesare Bovo.

Palermo were level midway through the first half when Uruguay's Edinson Cavani fired in at the near post following Fabrizio Miccoli's clever pass.

Champions Inter, who have won just one of their last seven Serie A games but have been top since September, looked tired in the closing stages after their exertions in eliminating Chelsea from the Champions League in midweek.

Jose Mourinho's side have nine games left and host lowly Livorno on Wednesday before travelling to Roma on Saturday as a fifth straight scudetto looks much less likely than when they held a nine-point lead in February.

Roma went ahead thanks to fit-again Luca Toni showing great strength and hooking in from the edge of the area on 16 minutes before strike partner Vucinic coolly doubled the lead.