While Manchester United FC's Premier League lead looks increasingly precarious after they lost at Liverpool FC, AC Milan and LOSC Lille Métropole left strong impressions at the top in Italy and France respectively. UEFA.com recaps the best of the weekend action.
Dirk Kuyt was the hero at Anfield on Sunday as Liverpool consigned Manchester United to their third reverse in five league outings, the Dutch international notching a hat-trick in a 3-1 win for the hosts. "It's been a tough season – it's not finished yet – but this has been the highest point so far for our supporters," said Reds manager Kenny Dalglish. The result kept United just three points clear at the top after Arsenal FC, who boast a game in hand, looked to have missed a trick with their 0-0 draw against Sunderland AFC. Third-placed Manchester City FC beat Wigan Athletic FC 1-0 and Chelsea FC, in fourth, visit Blackpool FC on Monday.
Lille laid down a serious title marker in Ligue 1 with a last-gasp 2-1 win at champions Olympique de Marseille that lifted them back to the top of the class ahead of Stade Rennais FC on goal difference. Substitute Pierre-Alain Frau buried the winner in added time, six minutes after coming on, to keep OM four points back in fourth. "We came here to win and that's what we did," said Lille coach Rudi Garcia. Rennes continue to apply pressure, though, after they prevailed 1-0 at Montpellier Hérault SC, with Olympique Lyonnais now third thanks to Lisandro's treble in a 5-0 win against bottom club AC Arles-Avignon.
City rivals Milan and FC Internazionale Milano are still the sides setting the pace in Serie A. The Rossoneri briefly found themselves with the luxury of an eight-point gap when Gennaro Gattuso struck a rare goal to see off Juventus 1-0, but Inter refuse to lie down and moved back within five points following a 5-2 defeat of Genoa CFC. "Inter are always improving, and we are starting to look to the future," said Nerazzurri coach Leonardo. "We are in a decisive moment and we will not stop fighting." Third-placed SSC Napoli are three points further back after being held by Brescia Calcio.
Real Madrid CF continue to hang onto FC Barcelona's coat-tails as best they can after both triumphed over the course of the weekend, with Barcelona assuming a ten-point lead on Saturday when they squeezed past Real Zaragoza 1-0. "We were all looking for the second – we were never really relaxed," conceded Barcelona assistant coach Tito Vilanova. Madrid responded in kind the following day, beating Real Racing Club 3-1 to move back to within seven points. Off the title pace and 13 points shy of Madrid, Valencia CF consolidated their grip on third by winning 2-1 at RCD Mallorca.
The top three in the Bundesliga all recorded victories this weekend. Borussia Dortmund set the precedent on Friday night, defeating 1. FC Köln 1-0 to go 15 points clear, before Bayer 04 Leverkusen trimmed that gap by three when they triumphed 3-0 against VfL Wolfsburg. A further two points adrift are Hannover 96, 3-1 victors against fifth-placed FC Bayern München, who lost a third consecutive game in all competitions for the first time since October 2000. "The players, the coach and the board are all very disappointed," commented Bayern coach Louis van Gaal.
Runaway Danish Super League leaders FC København resumed their campaign with a surprise 2-0 defeat by FC Midtjylland, who are now second – level with Odense BK – but still 19 points adrift. FCK had not lost all season heading into the winter break in early December. In Switzerland, Super League pacesetters FC Basel 1893 ran out 3-1 victors against nearest challengers FC Zürich and now enjoy a seven-point cushion at the top. In Belgium, KRC Genk and RSC Anderlecht remain locked together on 61 points at the head of the table having drawn 1-1 on Friday.
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