Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani grabbed headlines on Sunday as their hat-tricks allowed Real Madrid CF and SSC Napoli to keep pressure on the leaders in Spain and Italy respectively. Elsewhere, cup matters dominated and there were shocks in both France and England, including a humbling defeat for Olympique de Marseille. UEFA.com rounds up the best of the action from the weekend.
Big name forwards Lionel Messi and Ronaldo were prominent again in the Liga as both played starring roles for the leading duo. Messi buried a superb free-kick and set up two goals in a 4-0 success for FC Barcelona against RC Deportivo La Coruña before Ronaldo kept Madrid two points behind with a hat-trick in a 4-2 triumph against third-placed Villarreal CF. "Although we won 4-0, we didn't have that many chances," commented Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola. In fourth, Valencia CF had Juan Mata to thank for a 1-0 win at Levante UD, while RCD Espanyol climbed to fifth courtesy of a 4-0 defeat of bottom club Real Zaragoza.
AC Milan shared the spoils with Udinese Calcio in an eight-goal thriller at San Siro which allowed Napoli to move within four points. Cavani notched a trio of headers to dispatch Juventus 3-0 and his strikes earned praise from Partenopei coach Walter Mazzarri: "The goals were wonderful to see, especially the third one. This team is now starting to show its true worth." Capital clubs S.S. Lazio and AS Roma failed to take advantage of Milan's slip as they both fell to 2-1 defeats, though there was delight for FC Internazionale Milano as Leonardo oversaw a second consecutive win since taking over in the dugout, his charges prevailing 2-1 at Calcio Catania.
There were several shocks in the FA Cup as Newcastle United FC were knocked out by fourth-tier Stevenage FC (3-1), after Sunderland AFC and Blackpool FC had also succumbed to third-division sides in Notts County FC (2-1) and Southampton FC (2-0). Arsenal FC and Manchester City FC require third round replays following respective draws with Leeds United AFC and Leicester City FC, but there were no such concerns for Chelsea FC as they swept aside Ipswich Town FC 7-0. Liverpool FC, meanwhile, lost 1-0 at Manchester United FC, following Steven Gerrard's first-half dismissal. "After going down to ten men and losing a goal in the first minute we showed fantastic courage and commitment," said returning Reds manager Kenny Dalglish.
It was a weekend of upsets in the Coupe de France and Ligue 2 leaders Évian Thonon Gaillard FC saved the best for last as they stunned French champions Marseille in a 3-1 victory. "The fact that we were playing OM and that I saw guys like [Marseille coach] Didier [Deschamps] again means I'd prefer to keep my joy to myself," said Évian boss and former Marseille player Bernard Casoni. Seven other top-flight sides fell to lower-league opposition and they included AJ Auxerre, beaten 2-1 at fifth-tier ES Wasquehal, with AS Monaco FC ousted on penalties by another amateur outfit in SO Chambérien. Holders Paris Saint-Germain FC sailed through 5-1 against RC Lens, on the other hand.
FC Porto remain eight points clear in Portugal after compiling a 4-1 victory against CS Marítimo, which forced SL Benfica to win 3-0 at fourth-placed UD Leiria to prevent the leaders from racing even further away. Greek Super League leaders Olympiacos FC held their nerve as well, winning 2-0 at Kerkyra FC to stay five points ahead of Panathinaikos FC, 1-0 victors against Aris Thessaloniki FC. In Cyprus, finally, APOEL FC suffered only their second reverse this term as they went down 2-0 at Anorthosis Famagusta FC, however they still enjoy a seven-point cushion to AC Omonia, who hold a game in hand.
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