The weekend brought a raft of telling results in Europe's leading leagues and that was especially true in Spain, where frontrunners FC Barcelona and Club Atlético de Madrid played out a goalless draw that allowed Real Madrid CF to reduce the gap at the top. Paris Saint-Germain stretched their advantage in France, in contrast, and Juventus clinched a landmark win, while Manchester City FC climbed to the Premier League summit. UEFA.com recaps the action.
Neither Atlético nor Barcelona could grab the intitiative at the apex of the Liga as the country's two leading sides played out a 0-0 draw in the Estádio Vicente Calderón to remain locked together on 50 points. "The draw is good," said Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino. "We wanted to win, but I can't reproach the players." Meanwhile, opposite number Diego Simeone said: "Although we didn't have that many chances, I'm very happy with the performance my players produced." Madrid nonetheless took advantage to close within three points via a 1-0 win at RCD Espanyol, while Athletic Club cemented their hold on fourth spot by overcoming UD Almería 6-1.
The Juventus bandwagon continues to roll on as the Bianconeri clinched a club record 11th successive Serie A win with a 4-1 success at Cagliari Calcio. "Now we want to continue this positive streak, knowing full well there will be teams lining up to stop us," said coach Antonio Conte. The result maintained Juve's eight-point advantage over AS Roma, who themselves hit four in a victory against Genoa CFC, while SSC Napoli in third won 3-0 at Hellas Verona FC. "Having won like this proves we are still a strong side," said coach Rafael Benítez. Fourth-placed ACF Fiorentina lost ground in a 0-0 draw at Torino FC, and 19-year-old Domenico Berardi hit four goals as struggling US Sassuolo Calcio beat AC Milan 4-3.
Manchester City ended the weekend at the top of the Premier League pile after displacing Chelsea FC with a hard-fought 2-0 success at Newcastle United FC. "We try to attack and be creative, but I always say how important it is to defend well," commented City manager Manuel Pellegrini. "Maybe at the start of the season we would have lost the game, but we're better now and we won." The result lifted City a point ahead of Chelsea, who downed Hull City AFC 2-0, with third-placed Arsenal FC in action on Monday. Liverpool FC lie fourth following a dramatic 5-3 victory at Stoke City FC, and Manchester United FC returned to winning ways by downing Swansea City AFC 2-0.
Paris resumed their Ligue 1 title defence with a 2-1 comeback triumph at bottom-of-the-table AC Ajaccio to move five points out in front at the top. "The title is won with matches like that, when we aren't playing our best," explained Paris coach Laurent Blanc. "But we still won. We never gave up." AS Monaco FC dropped off the pace as they could only draw 1-1 at Montpellier Hérault SC, and third-placed LOSC Lille succumbed 2-1 at home to Stade de Reims . In fourth, AS Saint-Étienne were held to a goalless stalemate at EA Guingamp, while Olympique de Marseille prevailed 2-1 at Évian Thonon Gaillard FC.
SL Benfica won an emotional Clássico in Portugal on Sunday as they beat FC Porto 2-0 to move two points clear of Sporting Clube de Portugal at the top of the Liga. Paying tribute to club and Portugal legend Eusébio, who died last weekend, Benfica's players all wore the former striker's name on their shirts and clinched their first league win against their arch-rivals in more than four years. Meanwhile, PAOK FC closed within eight points of the Greek Super League summit after Olympiacos FC could only draw 0-0 at third-placed Atromitos FC, and AEL Limassol FC swept aside Enosis Neon Paralimni FC 4-1 to remain two points ahead of Apollon Limassol FC in Cyprus.
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