Real Madrid bounced back from their midweek Kings Cup shambles against Alcorcon defeating derby rivals Getafe 2-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday despite playing almost three quarters of the match with ten men.
Argentine Gonzalo Higuain was the hero scoring twice in three minutes (53 min, 56) as Real moved level on points with Barcelona at the top of the table and eased the pressure on coach Manuel Pellegrini following their 4-0 first leg cup defeat to tiny Alcorcon on Tuesday.
It was far from plain sailing for Real who were up against it from the 27th minute when centre-back Raul Albiol got a straight red for hauling down Real old boy Roberto Soldado.
However, Real showed their team spirit to defy their numerical disadvantage with Higuain showing some clinical finishing to help Real to end a three game winless streak and move them level on points with Barcelona.
Real now have a tough week ahead of them with a Champions League trip to AC Milan on Tuesday and then another derby against Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon.
Undefeated Barcelona travel to Osasuna later on Saturday aiming to move three clear of Real again. Osasuna were the last team to beat Barca in the league winning 1-0 on the penultimate weekend of last season.
Unsurprisingly Pellegrini took action following the Alcorcon fiasco choosing to drop captain Raul and omit Guti from the squad after a reported feud.
Kaka, Xabi Alonso, Higuain and Lassana Diarra all came in but Cristiano Ronaldo was again missing with his problematic ankle injury.
Portuguese defender Pepe also returned to face Getafe for the first time since his controversial stamping incident in last season?s 3-2 win.
Pepe received a 10-match suspension for brutally stamping on Getafe?s Francisco Casquero although the two did not come face to face with Casquero, who was left on the substitutes bench.
Real were flat in the opening quarter hour with Getafe but Marcelo could have put them in front but sliced his shot over when well-placed.
There had been little else to note and then in the 27th minute the game exploded when Albiol was sent off.
Albiol appeared to be tugging Soldado?s shirt and the referee brandished a straight red card to stun Real players and the home crowd.
Down to ten men Real actually improved and Karim Benzema spurned a great chance firing straight at the goalkeeper.
Getafe had gone to sleep but almost took the lead a minute before half-time with Soldado’s header saved by stand-in captain Iker Casillas.
In the second half Real stormed out of the blocks with French duo Diarra and Benzema both going agonisingly close.
Higuain, often overlooked this season, showed them how to do it taking advantage of some poor defending to chest the ball expertly and dispatch a left-footed shot home.
Getafe were stunned by the 53rd minute strike and three minutes later Higuain netted again using his pace to accelerate past his man and smash home.
The Argentine was denied a hat-trick by the post in the 65th minute before being taken off for Raul in the final quarter hour.
After firing blanks in their past two matches Sevilla look to hit the goal trail again at promoted Xerez.
Sevilla are six points behind Barcelona in third with Valencia breathing down their necks in fourth.
Atletico Madrid coach Quique Sanchez Flores makes his league debut at Athletic Bilbao later on Saturday looking to turn the club’s fortunes around.
Atletico, a point above the relegation zone, face Chelsea in the Champions League on Tuesday and then Real Madrid next weekend in a real baptism of fire for Flores.