While Dimitar Berbatov undoubtedly stole the headlines after his five-goal haul in Manchester United FC's 7-1 humbling of Blackburn Rovers FC, it was also a good weekend on the scoring front for several others across Europe, including Dejan Stanković, Antonio Di Natale and Hugo Almeida. UEFA.com round-ups the weekend action.
Without a goal in ten appearances dating back to 19 September, Berbatov found form in some style during United's emphatic home victory on Saturday. In doing so, he became the fourth player of the Premier League era to score five in a game, and first since Jermain Defoe against Wigan Athletic FC last season. That sent Sir Alex Ferguson's side top for the first time this campaign and they stayed there after Chelsea FC drew 1-1 with Newcastle United FC 24 hours later. Chelsea, in second, are two points shy of United and level with third-placed Arsenal FC, who won 4-2 at Aston Villa FC. At the other end, there were vital wins for the bottom two, with West Ham United FC prevailing 3-1 against Wigan Athletic FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC beating Sunderland AFC 3-2.
A frustrating weekend for most of the Serie A high-fliers allowed FC Internazionale Milano to move back into the top five thanks largely to Stanković's hat-trick in a 5-2 defeat of Parma FC. "We can still aim for the Scudetto," said a buoyant Inter coach Rafael Benítez afterwards. The Nerazzurri lie seven points off pacesetters AC Milan, who could only draw 1-1 at UC Sampdoria yet retained their three-point lead as second-placed S.S. Lazio were held 1-1 by Calcio Catania. That was also the scoreline between third-placed Juventus and ACF Fiorentina. In fourth, SSC Napoli lost 3-1 at Udinese Calcio as Di Natale posted a treble of his own – two weeks after his three goals against US Lecce.
The Borussia Dortmund juggernaut shows no sign of slowing after yet another victory, their 4-1 defeat of VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach going down as their fifth consecutive Bundesliga success. Perhaps the most surprising scoreline was FC Schalke 04's 5-0 loss to 1. FC Kaiserslautern, which came just three days after Felix Magath's team booked their place in the UEFA Champions League knockout stage with a comfortable triumph against Olympique Lyonnais. Meanwhile, Mario Gómez's rich vein of form continued with a 16th goal in his last 13 appearances for club and country as fifth-placed FC Bayern München overcame Eintracht Frankfurt 4-1. As for Almeida, his hat-trick came in SV Werder Bremen's 3-0 success against FC St Pauli that brought a first win in five league outings.
With FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF not in action until they meet at Camp Nou on Monday, Villarreal CF maintained their pursuit of the top two with a 3-0 win at bottom-of-the-table Real Zaragoza. The Yellow Submarine are five points shy of leaders Madrid and two clear of fourth-placed RCD Espanyol, who twice surrendered the lead before finally prevailing 3-2 at Club Atlético de Madrid. Elsewhere, Roberto Soldado took his tally to four goals in as many days with both of Valencia CF's efforts in a 2-1 defeat of second-bottom UD Almería, the striker having scored twice in the 6-1 UEFA Champions League triumph over Bursaspor.
Champions Olympique de Marseille leapt to the top of the Ligue 1 pile courtesy of a commanding 4-0 triumph against Montpellier Hérault SC. "We put in a very good performance, very technical and fluid," was the verdict of OM coach Didier Deschamps, whose charges lead LOSC Lille Métropole – held 1-1 at FC Girondins de Bordeaux – on goal difference alone. Paris Saint-Germain FC could have taken over in pole position on Sunday only for an 87th-minute Bafétimbi Gomis strike to salvage a 2-2 draw for ten-man Olympique Lyonnais.
The big game in Portugal ended 1-1 as Sporting Clube de Portugal failed to end FC Porto's unbeaten start to the season, with the Dragons holding an eight-point lead at the top after 12 fixtures. FC Timişoara maintained their own unbeaten sequence with a goalless stalemate at FC Dinamo Bucureşti, although that allowed FC Oţelul Galaţi to move three points clear at the Romanian First Division summit. As for Bulgarian pacesetters PFC Litex Lovech, they entered the winter break having yet to suffer defeat this term after prevailing 1-0 at PFC Kaliakra Kavarna. In Denmark, FC København enjoy a 19-point advantage and have also yet to be beaten following a 3-0 success at Randers FC.
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