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Liverpool and Liga wizards leave their mark

Published: Monday 27 February 2012, 0.50CET
Liverpool FC clinched the English League Cup on a weekend that featured a memorable milestone for Ryan Giggs and superb goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

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Published: Monday 27 February 2012, 0.50CET

Liverpool and Liga wizards leave their mark

Liverpool FC clinched the English League Cup on a weekend that featured a memorable milestone for Ryan Giggs and superb goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

There was silverware to be savoured in England this weekend as Liverpool FC lifted the League Cup for the eighth time, while Ryan Giggs celebrated a milestone in typically telling fashion for Manchester United FC. Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona claimed wins in Spain thanks to fantastic goals, meanwhile, and Borussia Dortmund extended their lead in the Bundesliga. recaps the action.

A remarkable weekend ended in dramatic fashion as Liverpool beat Cardiff City AFC on penalties to clinch the League Cup, after their second-tier opponents had levelled the scores at 2-2 late in extra time. That came after Giggs registered an added-time winner on his 900th appearance for Manchester United to earn a 2-1 success at Norwich City FC that kept his side two points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City FC, 3-0 victors against Blackburn Rovers FC. "He deserved that goal for his service to the club," said United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, praising Giggs. "He's had an amazing career and he's an amazing man." Meanwhile, Arsenal FC fought back from two goals down to stun third-placed north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur FC 5-2.

Superb goals from gifted duo Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo captured the attention on Sunday as Barcelona just about kept Real Madrid’s Liga lead down to ten points. Ronaldo sealed Madrid’s ninth consecutive league triumph with an audacious back-heel in a 1-0 win at Rayo Vallecano de Madrid and that put the pressure on the champions to respond. "A back-heel is always different," said the Portugal forward. "It was a great goal, but I'm not sure if it was the best of my career." Messi then provided a memorable moment of his own with nine minutes left at Club Atlético de Madrid, his curling free-kick sealing a late 2-1 victory for Barça. In third, meanwhile, Valencia CF lost 2-1 to Sevilla FC.

The top-of-the-table showdown in Serie A ended all-square as Alessandro Matri struck seven minutes from time to rescue a 1-1 stalemate for Juventus at AC Milan. "It's a draw that makes a difference in the league table, but not one that’ll be decisive in the race for the title," commented Matri, whose team lie a point shy of Milan with a game in hand. "It also keeps our momentum going." Third-placed Udinese Calcio are six points off the top after they prevailed 3-1 at Bologna FC – Antonio Di Natale grabbing his 18th Serie A strike this term via a penalty – while S.S. Lazio are level with them on points after they edged ACF Fiorentina 1-0. As for FC Internazionale Milano, they lost again – 1-0 at SSC Napoli.

FC Bayern München may have won the Bundesliga’s highest profile meeting this weekend, but it was Dortmund who came out with the broadest smiles after they downed Hannover 96 3-1 to stretch their lead to four points. That was made possible by VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach’s 1-1 draw with Hamburger SV on Friday, a result that also opened the door for Bayern to move second courtesy of their 2-0 defeat of fourth-placed FC Schalke 04, Franck Ribéry scoring twice. "It's not easy for us at the moment, but it was vital to show a reaction," commented the France forward. "Schalke are a good team and these three points are important."

Montpellier Hérault SC were the major beneficiaries of a rollercoaster 4-4 draw between Olympique Lyonnais and Paris Saint-Germain FC as it meant their 1-0 win against FC Girondins de Bordeaux was enough to take them a point clear of PSG in first place. "We came across a solid Bordeaux side but we played the game we had to," said Montpellier coach René Girard. "We were able to be patient. This year, we’re capable of believing right up until the end." That also appears to be true of Stade Rennais FC, who conjured a last-minute equaliser in a 1-1 draw with third-placed LOSC Lille Métropole.

PSV Eindhoven have carved out a two-point cushion on top of the Eredivisie standings after seeing off title challengers Feyenoord 3-2 thanks to Zakaria Labyad’s late strike. AZ Alkmaar failed to keep pace as they drew 3-3 with sc Heerenveen. In Poland, Legia Warszawa climbed within two points of WKS Śląsk Wroclaw by posting a commanding 4-0 win away against the pacesetters, who lost Dariusz Pietrasiak to a 35th-minute red card. Over in Turkey, finally, Johan Elmander’s added-time effort secured a 3-2 success for Galatasaray AŞ against neighbours Beşiktaş JK which took them nine points clear of closest pursuers Fenerbahçe SK, beaten 2-1 at Eskişehirspor.

Last updated: 05/12/13 19.03CET