S.S. Lazio and Olympique Lyonnais had plenty of reason to be happy with their weekend's work after the Serie A side clawed within three points of leaders Juventus and Lyon squeezed clear of their major rivals in Ligue 1. There were significant wins for Manchester's finest as well, while FC Barcelona triumphed yet again and the big game in Portugal ended all square. UEFA.com recaps the action.
Juventus' shaky return to Serie A duties continued with a 1-1 draw at Parma FC, despite Andrea Pirlo firing the champions ahead shortly after half-time. "I must say that if last Sunday I was angry about the [2-1 loss to] Sampdoria, today I am happy with the opportunities we created," commented Juve coach Antonio Conte. "We always try to play constructive football and take risks, so it's a shame we conceded." As a result, the Bianconeri's lead is now down to three points, closest pursuers Lazio having beaten Atalanta BC 2-0 to turn up the pressure at the summit. Two points further back, SSC Napoli swept aside US Città di Palermo 3-0, and FC Internazionale Milano, in fourth, beat Pescara Calcio 2-0.
"It was a hard week for us. The players really wanted to make amends but felt a certain amount of pressure," said Lyon coach Rémi Garde after his side bounced back from their shock Coupe de France exit to beat ES Troyes FC 2-1. The win lifted Les Gones two points above Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain FC after the capital club were held to a goalless draw at home to AC Ajaccio on Friday, and they ended the weekend in sole control when Olympique de Marseille slipped to defeat at struggling FC Sochaux-Montbéliard. OM were looking to rejoin Lyon at the top, but their ambitions were thwarted in a damaging 3-1 loss, despite a second-half dismissal for Sochaux's Joseph Lopy.
Manchester United FC remain seven points clear of neighbours Manchester City FC following important wins for both teams on Sunday. City kept pace with the frontrunners thanks to a 2-0 success at Arsenal FC, who lost Laurent Koscielny to an early red card, after Robin van Persie had struck a 17th Premier League goal this term in United's 2-1 defeat of Liverpool FC. "Everybody felt the importance of this fixture during the week and we are really happy with the result," said Van Persie. "In the second half, Liverpool played for all or nothing with lots of attackers so we had to dig in and fight for each other, helping each other out where possible." Chelsea FC climbed up to third by prevailing 4-0 at Stoke City FC, while fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur FC could only draw 0-0 at Queens Park Rangers FC.
Barcelona made it ten wins from as many away games this term by subjecting Málaga CF to a 3-1 loss. Goals in either half from Lionel Messi and Cesc Fàbregas put the visitors in control, before Thiago Alcántara set the seal on a stylish display. Diego Buonanotte's late free-kick was a mere consolation for the hosts, who dropped to fifth behind Real Betis Balompié. As for second-placed Club Atlético de Madrid, they lie 11 points adrift of the leaders but sailed seven clear of Real Madrid CF as first-half goals from Tiago and Falcao secured a 2-0 win against Real Zaragoza. For their part, Madrid could only muster a goalless draw at struggling CA Osasuna and had Kaká sent off. "We had chances to score – not many, but we had some," said Madrid coach José Mourinho. "I liked the attitude of the team."
All eyes in Portugal were on Sunday night's Clássico between SL Benfica and FC Porto, and the high-stakes meeting could hardly have got off to a more explosive start, with both teams registering twice in the opening 17 minutes. That proved the end of the scoring, however, which means that Benfica remain three points ahead of their rivals, who boast a game in hand. As for the main attraction in Greece, that ended in a goalless draw between second-placed PAOK FC and Atromitos FC in third, allowing Olympiacos FC to streak ten points clear at the top. In Cyprus finally, AEK Larnaca FC pulled within four points of frontrunners Anorthosis Famagusta FC – who visit Alki Larnaca FC on Monday – by prevailing 2-0 at Olympiakos Nicosia FC.
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