It was a landmark weekend in both Spain and England as FC Barcelona extended their Liga winning streak into uncharted territory and the nets bulged with spectacular regularity across the Premier League. The intrigue did not end there either, with SSC Napoli gaining on AC Milan in Italy and LOSC Lille Métropole nudging a little further clear in France. UEFA.com rounds up all the latest action.
Barcelona set another fabulous benchmark on Saturday as their 3-0 home win against Club Atlético de Madrid established a new Liga record of 16 consecutive victories. Not for the first time, Lionel Messi was at the heart of the action, plundering all three goals to take his tally to 40 in all competitions this term. "All of the great teams in history have a player who is different and Messi is one of those – he makes the difference," said Barça coach Josep Guardiola. Nearest rivals Real Madrid CF replied with a 4-1 defeat of Real Sociedad de Fútbol, Cristiano Ronaldo registering twice, while third-placed Villarreal CF were shocked 1-0 at home by third-bottom Levante UD.
A total of 41 goals were scored in the Premier League on Saturday – the most on a single day since the division was reduced to 20 sides – and eight of those came at Newcastle FC, where the hosts recovered from 4-0 down to hold second-placed Arsenal FC 4-4. Leaders Manchester United FC failed to profit, though, as their unbeaten run was ended in a 2-1 loss at Wolverhampton Wanderers FC, and there was defeat too for Fernando Torres and Chelsea FC against the Spanish striker's old employers Liverpool FC. "There was a lot of speculation before the game, which maybe makes it even more special, but it's three points; we're on a good run and want to keep it going," said defender Jamie Carragher after his team's 1-0 triumph.
It was a disappointing weekend for Milan, whose second successive draw, 1-1 at Genoa CFC, ensured their Serie A lead was reduced to three points after Napoli overcame AS Cesena 2-0. "There are still many matches left and we are still top," insisted Rossoneri coach Massimiliano Allegri. "There are areas we need to improve, but that will be easier when we get some players back." Elsewhere, Antonio Di Natale notched his 100th Serie A goal for Udinese Calcio in a 2-0 home victory against UC Sampdoria, and Juventus recorded a much-needed 3-1 triumph at Cagliari Calcio.
What began as a potentially frustrating weekend for frontrunners Borussia Dortmund eventually became yet another good one, as rivals Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC Bayern München slipped to defeats. Both had hoped to pounce on Dortmund's goalless stalemate with FC Schalke 04 on Friday, yet while Leverkusen succumbed 1-0 at 1. FC Nürnberg, champions Bayern surrendered a 2-0 lead on their way to losing 3-2 at third-bottom 1. FC Köln. "It's unbelievable," said Bayern coach Louis van Gaal. "It's the fourth or fifth time we've thrown a match away." In 17th spot, VfB Stuttgart completed a similar comeback as they won 3-2 at bottom club VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Lille experienced a wide range of emotions over the weekend, beginning when closest rivals Paris Saint-Germain FC lost 1-0 at Stade Rennais FC on Saturday. That result – which also lifted Rennes level with PSG – presented Lille with the chance to streak seven points clear on Sunday, and they looked set to profit when Moussa Sow hit his 16th Ligue 1 effort this season at AJ Auxerre. The hosts equalised with four minutes left, however, to limit the league leaders' advantage to a nonetheless healthy five points. "We were hugely disappointed at the final whistle, but that doesn't change the quality of our performance," said Lille coach Rudi Garcia. In fourth, Olympique de Marseille defeated AC Arles-Avignon 1-0.
Celtic FC and Rangers FC played out an enthralling 2-2 draw in their Scottish Cup fifth-round tie on Sunday, with both sides having a player sent off in a result that means the Glasgow giants will need to meet again – and seven times in all competitions this season – to determine a winner. Meanwhile, the big match in Switzerland ended in a 2-0 triumph for FC Zürich against FC Luzern that sent the victors above their rivals into second spot, a point shy of pacesetters FC Basel 1893. In Turkey, finally, Trabzonspor AŞ lead Bursaspor on goal difference alone after being held 0-0 by Antalyaspor.
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