It proved a productive weekend for the pacesetters in Europe's top leagues as Lionel Messi made yet more headlines for FC Barcelona and Juventus extended their Serie A lead with a handsome victory. Likewise, Manchester United FC battled back to triumph in England and FC Bayern München preserved their comfortable Bundesliga cushion, although there was frustration in France as the top three were all held. UEFA.com recaps the action.
Barcelona keep winning after beating RCD Mallorca 4-2 to secure their tenth success in 11 outings this season. Lionel Messi struck twice to move ahead of Pelé's 1958 tally of 75 goals in a calendar year for club and country – and nine behind Gerd Müller's total from 1972. The game also marked a return from injury for defender Gerard Piqué, who commented: "If you don't play for a long time then you always have some doubts about your fitness, but I felt very good and I'm delighted to win. We had a difficult period in the second half, but overall we controlled the match." Club Atlético de Madrid remain three points behind after they downed Getafe CF 2-1, with Real Madrid CF five further back following their 2-1 win at Levante UD.
The Manchester clubs occupy the top two spots in the Premier League after Chelsea FC slipped down to third in a 1-1 home draw with Liverpool FC. Top of the pile are Manchester United, who fought back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at Aston Villa FC, Javier Hernández coming off the bench at half-time to score twice. "We need to improve because we're conceding a lot of goals," said the Mexican international. "We're very happy, we need to improve and this result is going to give us a lot of confidence." As for unbeaten Manchester City FC, they also showed character to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 defeat of Tottenham Hotspur FC, while fourth-placed Everton FC downed Sunderland AFC 2-1.
Juventus now enjoy a four-point cushion in Serie A thanks to an emphatic 6-1 triumph against Pescara that featured a Fabio Quagliarella hat-trick. Second-placed FC Internazionale Milano failed to respond in kind as they suffered a 3-2 reverse at Atalanta BC, while SSC Napoli, in third, required late goals from Marek Hamšík and Lorenzo Insigne to prevail 4-2 at Genoa CFC. Elsewhere, AC Milan lost 3-1 at home to ACF Fiorentina and S.S. edged AS Roma 3-2 to win the Rome derby. "At the final whistle, it was a wonderful feeling," said Lazio coach Vladimir Petković, able to savour victory in his first derby contest. "We did well to work as a team and were able to read the match, even if it meant playing long balls."
Bayern remain seven points clear at the top of the Bundesliga after posting a 2-0 success against third-placed Eintracht Frankfurt, Franck Ribéry scoring a first-half opener before David Alaba's penalty. "It's not easy to change gear after playing in the Champions League and you can't always score six goals and play super football," commented Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes afterwards. "What we proved was that we can react to a difficult situation." In second, FC Schalke 04 bounced back from last weekend's loss to TSG 1899 Hoffenheim to edge SV Werder Bremen 2-1, while fourth-placed champions Borussia Dortmund prevailed 3-1 at FC Augsburg and Bayer 04 Leverkusen lost 3-1 at VfL Wolfsburg.
There was no change at the top of Ligue 1 as the leading trio were all held after going ahead. Leaders Paris Saint-Germain FC were pegged back in a 1-1 draw with Montpellier Hérault SC, Olympique de Marseille were held 2-2 by OGC Nice, and Olympique Lyonnais had to settle for a 1-1 scoreline against FC Sochaux-Montbéliard. "In my case, it is frustration that I am feeling," said OM coach Élie Baup. "We must be more effective. We are good at building, but there is the need to be more decisive in front of goal." AS Saint-Étienne, Valenciennes FC and FC Girondins de Bordeaux all made up ground by winning to move two points off the pace.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær's Molde FK are celebrating their second consecutive Norwegian title after their 1-0 defeat of Hønefoss BK combined with a loss for challengers Strømsgodset IF against Sandnes Ulf to send them four points clear with a game to go. There was title joy elsewhere too, with FC BATE Borisov emerging triumphant for the ninth time in Belarus and FK Ekranas clinching their fifth straight Lithuanian crown, while FC Astana saw off FC Irtysh Pavlodar 2-0 in the Kazakh Cup final.
Meanwhile, PSV Eindhoven leapfrogged FC Twente at the Eredivisie summit courtesy of a 5-1 display at home to sc Heerenveen, Hibernian FC jumped ahead of Celtic FC in Scotland and Belgian pacesetters RSC Anderlecht downed Club Brugge KV 6-1.
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