There was a change at the top in Spain as Levante UD's fantastic sequence of wins came to an end and allowed Real Madrid CF to take over in pole position, but elsewhere the pacesetters performed well yet again. Wins for Manchester City FC, Juventus, FC Bayern München and Paris Saint-Germain FC kept all four at the summit, as UEFA.com now recaps.
Levante's superb run of seven straight wins finally came to an end on Sunday as they were undone for the first time this season at CA Osasuna, their hosts triumphing 2-0 despite losing goalscorer Álvaro Cejudo to a 59th-minute red card. That kept Levante in third, two points shy of Madrid, who had Gonzalo Higuaín to thank for a 1-0 success at Real Sociedad de Fútbol. One point back, FC Barcelona dismantled RCD Mallorca 5-0 courtesy of a Lionel Messi treble, the Argentina forward notching his first strikes in four outings. "People said I was going through some kind of crisis just because I hadn't scored in my three previous games, but the most important thing isn't me – it's that the team is winning," he explained afterwards.
Robin van Persie continued his incredible scoring run with a hat-trick as Arsenal FC stepped up their recovery with a pulsating 5-3 success at Chelsea FC. "The intelligence of his movement around the box and the accuracy of his finishing is exceptional," said Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger, Van Persie having now moved on to 28 goals in 27 Premier League games in 2011. The Gunners remain seventh, however, with Manchester City still five points clear of Manchester United FC at the top after they downed Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 3-1 and Sir Alex Ferguson's men triumphed 1-0 at Everton FC. Also triumphant were fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC, in sixth.
Juventus displayed their title potential with a spirited 2-1 victory away against FC Internazionale Milano that kept them at the summit and left their hosts in 16th. "It's too early to talk about winning the Scudetto," said goalscorer Mirko Vučinić. "We have to prove our strength in the next game against Napoli. If we lose that match then tonight's victory will be wasted." Udinese Calcio are second thanks to Antonio Di Natale's first-half strike against US Città di Palermo, while S.S. Lazio trail the Zebrette on goal difference after winning 3-0 at Cagliari Calcio. In fourth, AC Milan triumphed 3-2 at AS Roma thanks in part to Zlatan Ibrahimović's double, and SSC Napoli will go into Wednesday's UEFA Champions League game at FC Bayern München on the back of a 2-1 loss at Calcio Catania.
Mario Gomez notched his 50th league goal for Bayern, who opened up a four-point lead in the Bundesliga with a 4-0 win against 1. FC Nürnberg. "You can see the players are enjoying themselves playing football – that's a very important aspect of playing successful football," said Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes, after his side scored a minimum of four goals for the fifth time this season. FC Schalke 04 capitalised on Borussia Dortmund's 1-1 draw at VfB Stuttgart to climb into second with a 3-1 success against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, while SV Werder Bremen and VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach joined Dortmund on 20 points with respective victories against 1. FSV Mainz 05 (3-1) and Hannover 96 (2-1).
PSG remain top of Ligue 1 after coming from behind to beat SM Caen 4-2, Javier Pastore concluding the scoring following a tense finale. Nenê, who twice converted from the spot, said: "The most important thing tonight was to earn a sixth straight win [in the league] and keep our three-point lead." Montpellier Hérault SC are still their closest rivals thanks to a 2-0 victory against AS Nancy-Lorraine – their third consecutive league success – while Olympique Lyonnais moved level on points with third-placed LOSC Lille Métropole as Jimmy Briand and Yoann Gourcuff registered late strikes in a 2-0 derby defeat of AS Saint-Étienne. For their part, champions Lille were held to a goalless draw by a resilient Valenciennes FC side.
There were goals galore in the Netherlands this weekend as FC Twente and PSV Eindhoven played out a 2-2 draw, AFC Ajax beat Roda JC 4-0, sc Heerenveen dispatched ADO Den Haag by the same scoreline and FC Groningen put six past Feyenoord. In Russia, an Emmanuel Emenike hat-trick helped FC Spartak Moskva get the better of city rivals FC Lokomotiv Moskva, but arguably the game of the weekend took place in Belgium where KRC Genk came from 4-2 down to win 5-4 at Club Brugge KV. Silverware was decided too, with FC Shakhter Karagandy claiming their maiden Kazakh title and Ole Gunnar Solskjær leading Molde FK to their first ever Norwegian crown.
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