It felt like a weekend for fresh starts as previously troubled AC Milan followed up their midweek UEFA Champions League joy with a 1-0 win against Serie A leaders Juventus, while Rafael Benítez began his Chelsea FC tenure with a 0-0 draw against Manchester City FC. Things were more familiar in Spain and Germany, though, with FC Barcelona and Club Atlético de Madrid triumphant again and FC Bayern München extending their Bundesliga lead. UEFA.com recaps the action.
"The truth is that we deserved to lose," said Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon after Milan inflicted a second loss of the season on the leaders, with Robinho's first-half penalty earning the Rossoneri a 1-0 win which lifted them to eighth. "This game was a real battle by the players," said Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri. "We only allowed Juventus one shot on target, while there were four or five great scoring opportunities for us." Earlier, ACF Fiorentina moved within four points of the top, but their five-game Serie A winning streak came to a halt with a 2-2 stalemate at Torino FC, while AS Roma defeated Pescara Calcio 1-0 to go fifth.
Manchester United FC returned to the Premier League summit with a 3-1 comeback victory against Queens Park Rangers FC. Jamie Mackie opened the scoring shortly after the break, before quick-fire replies from Jonny Evans, Darren Fletcher and Javier Hernández put United out of sight. The manner in which they claimed three points left manager Sir Alex Ferguson frustrated, however. "We have to be concerned," he said. "The one thing was, from the moment we scored, we really got at them and played with a great determination and speed." Rafael Benítez's first game in charge of Chelsea ended goalless at home to Manchester City, who slipped to second, while West Bromwich Albion FC are four points off the top after triumphing 4-2 at Sunderland AFC.
Lionel Messi struck twice as unbeaten Barcelona remained relentless at the top, defeating Levante UD 4-0 to stay three points out in front. The Argentinian's double moved him to within three goals of Gerd Müller's record of 85 goals for club and country in a calendar year. Atlético are impressing too, however, and their fledgling pursuit of the Liga title gained credence as they made it seven wins from as many home games, easing past nine-man Sevilla 4-0. For their part, third-placed Real Madrid CF are 11 points adrift after slipping to a third Liga reverse this term, 1-0 at Real Betis Balompié. "When we win, we all win," said Merengues coach José Mourinho. "But when we lose, I have to blame myself. The players are not guilty."
Bayern extended their lead at the top to nine points after consigning Hannover 96 to a 5-0 defeat, with Mario Gomez wrapping things up on his first league appearance this season following an ankle injury. "It was a thoroughly deserved victory and we were top class, because we were very assertive and aggressive from the start. We kept it tighter than we have done recently," enthused home coach Jupp Heynckes. As for FC Schalke 04, they were held to a 1-1 draw by Eintracht Frankfurt, which allowed Borussia Dortmund to climb into second by coming from behind to triumph 2-1 at 1. FSV Mainz 05. "It's incredible what my lads have achieved," said Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp. "They have incredible spirit."
Zlatan Ibrahimović returned from a two-match suspension to propel Paris Saint-Germain FC back into pole position in Ligue 1. The Swedish international scored two and made two as Carlo Ancelotti's men swept aside ES Troyes Aube Champagne 4-0 at the Parc des Princes to arrest a run of three games without a win. "It takes more than two defeats to put pressure on me. We're here to win. It was important to send a message," said the 31-year-old forward. Level with PSG on points are Olympique de Marseille after they edged LOSC Lille 1-0, with AS Saint-Étienne third following their 1-0 success at home to Valenciennes FC. Meanwhile, Olympique Lyonnais and FC Girondins de Bordeaux missed the chance to go top as both suffered setbacks, 3-0 at Toulouse FC and 1-0 to Montpellier Hérault SC respectively.
Galatasaray AŞ took control of the Turkish Super League as Yekta Kurtuluş' goal proved sufficient to see off Elazığspor and move them clear of Antalyaspor, who were held at Bursaspor. In Switzerland, Grasshopper Club remain top despite making it four games without a victory in a 1-1 draw at FC Sion. Anorthosis Famagusta FC defeated second-placed AEK Larnaca FC 3-2 in the Cypriot First Division, to move six points clear, while Celtic FC's lead in Scotland remains one point following their 1-0 home loss to Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC. Elsewhere, Vitesse defeated Eredivisie leaders PSV Eindhoven 2-1 to climb within two points of the summit and second-tier IL Hødd claimed the Norwegian Cup.
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