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Chelsea FC and AS Roma were the major beneficiaries from the weekend action across Europe, with the Blues surging clear in the Premier League and Claudio Ranieri's team continuing to whittle down FC Internazionale Milano's lead in Italy.
Having kicked off the Premier League action in Saturday's early fixture at Everton, Manchester United FC had the chance, albeit perhaps only temporarily, to replace Chelsea at the top. As it turned out, Sir Alex Ferguson's side lost 3-1, and Chelsea took full advantage by winning 2-0 at Wolverhampton Wanderers FC to establish a four-point lead over their rivals. Didier Drogba was Chelsea's match-winner with both goals at Molineux, his 18th and 19th in the league this term.
Inter's lead at the Serie A summit is down to five points after the Nerazzurri drew for the third successive league game, 0-0 at home to UC Sampdoria, and Roma overcame Calcio Catania. That Inter took anything at all from the visit of the Blucerchiati was nonetheless a notable achievement given that they contested more than 50 minutes with nine men, Walter Samuel and Iván Córdoba being dismissed in quick succession. Sampdoria also finished without a full compliment after Giampaolo Pazzini was sent off 17 minutes from time. Mirko Vučinić scored the only goal for Roma against Catania as the Giallorossi registered their seventh consecutive league win.
FC Bayern München and Bayer 04 Leverkusen ended the 23rd round of Bundesliga fixtures as they started it – level on points at the top and separated by just one goal. Bayern went ahead after drawing 1-1 at 1. FC Nürnberg on Saturday, a result which ended their 13-match winning run, but were replaced by their rivals 24 hours later. Leverkusen looked set for all three points at Werder Bremen when leading 2-1 in added time, only for Per Mertesacker to head in a 92nd-minute equaliser.
FC Barcelona bounced back in style from suffering their first league defeat last time out with a 4-0 victory over Real Racing Club that sent them five points clear in the Liga. Real Madrid CF responded emphatically, however, putting together a 6–2 home win against Villarreal CF, their fifth domestic success in a row. Cristiano Ronaldo scored the pick of the goals with a spectacular free-kick.
A weekend off for frontrunners FC Girondins de Bordeaux meant Montpellier Hérault SC had a chance to move level with Laurent Blanc's side on points, but instead they succumbed 1-0 at AS Saint-Etienne. That allowed LOSC Lille Métropole to close within a point of second spot thanks to a late winner at Stade Rennais FC, while the teams in fourth and fifth, Olympique Lyonnais and Olympique de Marseille, had hat-tricks from Michel Bastos and Mamadou Niang respectively to thank for comfortable wins.
In Portugal, third-placed FC Porto clinched a stylish 5-1 success against title rivals SC Braga. Braga, who had lost only once in the league prior to kick-off, were 3-0 down by the 37th minute as Porto closed to within five points of their opponents and six of pacesetters SL Benfica. In Greece, PAOK FC defeated Super League leaders Panathinaikos FC 2-1, an outcome that took the victors level with second-placed Olympiacos FC, two points shy of the summit.
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