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United and PSG prosper, Balotelli proves worth

Published: Monday 4 February 2013, 0.16CET
Manchester United FC and Paris Saint-Germain FC moved further clear of their rivals, while Mario Balotelli enjoyed a sensational return to Serie A with a two-goal debut for AC Milan.

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Published: Monday 4 February 2013, 0.16CET

United and PSG prosper, Balotelli proves worth

Manchester United FC and Paris Saint-Germain FC moved further clear of their rivals, while Mario Balotelli enjoyed a sensational return to Serie A with a two-goal debut for AC Milan.

It was a fruitful weekend for Manchester United FC and Paris Saint-Germain FC as both clubs stretched further clear of their closest pursuers, Sir Alex Ferguson's charges building a nine-point gap in England and PSG leaving Olympique Lyonnais three points back. There was also joy for Mario Balotelli as he struck twice on his debut for AC Milan, while Club Atlético de Madrid edged a little closer to FC Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund moved second in Germany. recaps the action.

Defending champions Manchester City FC gave up further ground in the title race after being held to a 2-2 draw at home by Liverpool FC on Sunday. A defiant City manager Roberto Mancini said afterwards: "Today we were so nervous, I don't know why. There's 13 games to the end, so it's not over yet." League leaders Manchester United looked set to drop points themselves in Saturday's trip to Fulham FC, but 11 minutes from time Wayne Rooney secured a 1-0 win. In third, Chelsea FC lost 3-2 at Newcastle United FC, and fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur FC edged West Bromwich Albion FC 1-0.

Salvatore Sirigu hailed PSG's 4-0 victory at Toulouse FC on Friday as "the perfect evening". "We played very well. It was important to win and perform well after the last game against Lille," said the 26-year-old goalkeeper, who has kept eight consecutive clean sheets in Ligue 1. The result took on even greater significance when second-placed Olympique Lyonnais slipped to a surprise 3-1 defeat against AC Ajaccio to leave them three points off the summit, while third-placed Olympique de Marseille fell to a 1-0 home loss to AS Nancy-Lorraine.

Juventus consolidated their Serie A lead by overcoming AC Chievo Verona 2-1, but it was Balotelli who took the headlines after a dream debut for Milan. The former City striker scored two goals, including an added-time penalty winner, as the Rossoneri moved fourth by edging Udinese Calcio 2-1. "I'm happy it turned out like that as I put in a good performance," said Balotelli. "We are strong in attack, even if I haven't played much and feel my legs are heavy. I must work to improve my fitness levels." Elsewhere, SSC Napoli lie three points off the top after downing Calcio Catania 2-0, and third-placed S.S. Lazio succumbed 3-2 at Genoa CFC.

FC Barcelona's lead was trimmed to nine points after Tito Vilanova's men were frustrated in a 1-1 draw at Valencia CF and nearest rivals Club Atlético de Madrid defeated Real Betis Balmopié 1-0 courtesy of Diego Costa. That all came the day after José Mourinho's Real Madrid CF suffered their fifth Liga defeat of the season, 1-0 at the hands of Granada CF. "Today we lost and we did not play well. It didn't happen on its own – today I'm the one responsible," said the Portuguese coach. Madrid now trail their Catalan rivals by 16 points.

It was another profitable weekend for Bundesliga leaders FC Bayern München, who bolstered their position at the Bundesliga summit by a further point. Jupp Heynckes' side negotiated a potentially tricky trip to fifth-placed 1. FSV Mainz 05 with ease, triumphing 3-0, and were dealt a favour by Borussia Dortmund, who sank Bayer 04 Leverkusen 3-2 to take their place in second. Captain Philipp Lahm played down the significance of Bayern's 12-point lead, however: "We've only played three games of the second half of the season," said the 29-year-old. "It's just a momentary situation."

FC Porto have now gone more than a year since suffering defeat in the Portuguese Liga after a Jackson Martínez hat-trick helped them win 4-0 at Vitória SC to move three points clear of SL Benfica, who responded with a 3-0 victory against Vitória FC. Over in Greece, meanwhile, Olympiacos FC lost for the first time this season as they succumbed 3-2 at home to Atromitos FC, though they remain 13 points clear of nearest challengers Asteras Tripolis FC. The big game in Belgium ended in a 2-2 draw between RSC Anderlecht and R. Standard de Liège, with Anderlecht six points out in front, and PSV Eindhoven swept aside ADO Den Haag 7-0 to stay three points ahead of AFC Ajax in the Netherlands.

Last updated: 04/12/13 7.12CET