It proved another fruitful weekend for Europe's most in-form goalscorers as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi made telling contributions for Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona respectively, Mario Gomez added to his FC Bayern München tally and Robin van Persie found the net again for Arsenal FC. UEFA.com recaps the action.
Real Madrid now enjoy a three-point lead at the top of the Liga table after closest rivals Barcelona slipped up at Athletic Club. Madrid put the pressure on by subjecting ten-man CA Osasuna to a 7-1 reverse as Cristiano Ronaldo weighed in with his fourth hat-trick this term to give his side their tenth consecutive win in all competitions. "We're playing well and we're serious," said coach José Mourinho. "I think we deserve all these consecutive wins. I cannot remember a game we won and didn't deserve to." Barcelona's response was a 2-2 draw at Athletic in which Lionel Messi buried his 14th goal this season to stave off defeat, while Valencia CF leapfrogged Levante UD into third by downing their high-flying neighbours 2-0.
Manchester United FC marked the 25th anniversary of manager Sir Alex Ferguson's appointment in fitting style by recording a 1-0 victory against Sunderland AFC. An own goal from former United defender Wes Brown kept the Red Devils five points behind league leaders Manchester City FC, who defeated Queens Park Rangers FC 3-2 thanks to Yaya Touré's headed winner. "We'll take confidence from this because we know every game we're not going to be able to play the fantastic football that we can," said City defender Micah Richards. Newcastle United FC defeated Everton FC 2-1 to stay third, fourth-placed Chelsea FC edged Blackburn Rovers FC 1-0 and Van Persie notched his 11th league goal this term in Arsenal FC's 3-0 win against West Bromwich Albion FC.
Mario Gomez continued his red-hot scoring streak as Bayern maintained their five-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga with a 2-1 win at FC Augsburg, the forward hitting his 13th league goal of the season. In second, Borussia Dortmund swept aside VfL Wolfsburg 5-1, Mario Götze scoring twice, and defender Mats Hummels hailed the club's strength in depth after battling through seven games in 23 days. "We have so many good players," he said. "It's wonderful for us to know we can be out on our feet and there is someone fresh to step right into the team. It is a very good situation." SV Werder Bremen and VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach sit on 23 points alongside Dortmund after both registered wins, with a second-half hat-trick from Claudio Pizarro helping Bremen down 1. FC Köln 3-2.
Udinese Calcio and S.S. Lazio took advantage of some inclement weather to leapfrog Juventus at the summit of Serie A, the Bianconeri's game with SSC Napoli having been postponed. Antonio Di Natale fired in his eighth of the campaign as Udinese saw off AC Siena 2-1 and Lazio squeezed past Parma FC 1-0 thanks to Giuseppe Sculli. AC Milan sit a point behind following a comfortable 4-0 home victory against Calcio Catania, after which Massimiliano Allegri hailed his forwards. "When the strikers help out the defence like this, the whole team can express itself better," he said. "If we defend well, then in my view we attack better. That is how we've approached the last few matches and we've put in some great performances." US Città di Palermo are fifth after making it five home wins out of five by defeating Bologna FC 3-0.
Paris Saint-Germain FC remain three points ahead of Montpellier Hérault SC in Ligue 1 after both sides earned draws from tricky away trips. The leaders were held 1-1 at FC Girondins de Bordeaux and that was also the scoreline between AS Saint-Étienne and Montpellier, who needed Joris Marveaux's 57th-minute strike to pull them level. Third-placed LOSC Lille Métropole were rescued by Benoît Pedretti's free-kick as they also drew 1-1, with Évian Thonon Gaillard FC, while Olympique Lyonnais lost ground on the top three after Ryad Boudebouz's penalty secured a 2-1 home win for FC Sochaux-Montbéliard. Lyon coach Rémi Garde said: "I think we missed some physical freshness today. We could not be as free-flowing despite our good intentions. I think in the end we were a little breathless."
FC Dynamo Kyiv won the big game in Ukraine this weekend as Ideye Brown scored twice in a 2-1 success at rivals FC Metalist Kharkiv. That result sent Metalist back down to third and took the victors four points clear of FC Shakhtar Donetsk at the top. Over in neighbouring Poland, WKS Śląsk Wroclaw continued their remarkable season by triumphing 5-1 at Zagłębie Lubin to stay six points clear, although second-placed Legia Warszawa boast two games in hand. Celtic FC are back up to second in Scotland, meanwhile, having beaten previous incumbents Motherwell FC, though Rangers FC remain 12 points out in front. In silverware terms, FK Ventspils won the Latvian title, Helsingborgs IF lifted the Swedish Cup, Aalesunds FK did likewise in Norway and Sligo Rovers FC retained the FAI Cup in the Republic of Ireland.
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