A glimmer of light has appeared for the chasing teams in Italy and France after respective leaders Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain experienced rare frustrations, allowing AS Roma and AS Monaco FC to profit. Back from their winter break, Bundesliga top dogs FC Bayern München stretched their lead, in contrast, while Spain's trio of title rivals all won and England's big guns safely advanced in the FA Cup. UEFA.com recaps the action.
Juventus's club record run of 12 consecutive Serie A victories was finally brought to a halt on Saturday as Antonio Conte's men drew 1-1 at SS Lazio after losing goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon to a first-half red card. "We never gave up trying despite our numerical inferiority and we're sorry to have ended our winning streak," said Conte, with the Bianconeri's closest rivals Roma taking advantage via a 3-1 success at Hellas Verona FC to close within six points. Elsewhere, third-placed SSC Napoli could only draw 1-1 with AC Chievo Verona, while a pair of late goals earned Clarence Seedorf's AC Milan a dramatic 2-1 win at Cagliari Calcio.
Monaco have turned up the pressure on Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain, cutting their rivals' cushion to three points after Laurent Blanc's men were forced to settle for a 1-1 at EA Guingamp. "Given the context, it was probably the right result," said Blanc. Monaco promptly took maximum advantage by defeating Olympique de Marseille 2-0 to reignite the title race. "We have a good team and we dedicate this win to Falcao," commented goalscorer Emmanuel Rivière, remembering his injured Colombian colleague. In third, LOSC Lille are ten points off the top after drawing 1-1 with Stade Rennais FC, while FC Girondins de Bordeaux defeated fourth-placed AS Saint-Étienne 2-0.
Unbeaten Bayern extended their lead atop the Bundesliga to an imposing ten points after dispatching VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-0 on their return from the winter break. "Winning here isn't easy. We controlled the match. I'm delighted with our performance," said coach Josep Guardiola. The result was made even more significant when second-placed Bayer 04 Leverkusen succumbed 3-2 at SC Freiburg 24 hours later and Borussia Dortmund – four points adrift in third – twice let a lead slip in their 2-2 home draw with FC Augsburg, whose on-loan striker Ji Dong-won found the net against his parent club.
The Liga title race remains desperately close after the leading trio all triumphed over the weekend. Real Madrid CF set the tone by going temporarily top with a 2-0 defeat of Granada CF on Saturday, Cristiano Ronaldo opening the scoring after celebrations to mark his recent Ballon d'Or win. It was then the turn of Club Atlético de Madrid to respond, Arda Turan registering twice as they won 4-2 at Rayo Vallecano de Madrid, before FC Barcelona downed Málaga CF 3-0 to return to the summit on goal difference. In fourth, Athletic Club enjoyed a commanding 5-1 success at CA Osasuna.
Manchester City FC will host Chelsea FC in the fifth round of the FA Cup after both Premier League high-fliers won through. City were 2-0 down at half-time against second-division Watford FC but a second-half Sergio Agüero hat-trick helped them prevail 4-2, while Chelsea beat Stoke City FC 1-0. "If I could change 11 players at half-time, I would have done," said City boss Manuel Pellegrini. "But if we play as we did in second half, maybe we can continue in all the competitions." League leaders Arsenal FC will face Liverpool FC after the Gunners defeated Coventry City FC 4-0 and the Reds saw off AFC Bournemouth 2-0. As for holders Wigan Athletic FC, they beat top-flight Crystal Palace FC 2-1 to maintain their defence.
AFC Ajax have opened a two-point gap in the Eredivisie as their 1-0 success against Go Ahead Eagles coincided with a 1-1 stalemate for title rivals Vitesse at home to bottom club NEC Nijmegan. RSC Anderlecht saw off Club Brugge KV 2-0 in Belgium, but it was not enough to cut the seven-point gap to leaders R. Standard de Liège, who edged a 1-0 win at KSC Lokeren OV. In Turkey, meanwhile, Galatasaray AŞ could not put pressure on pacesetters Fenerbahçe SK, who play Monday evening, as they drew 0-0 at Gaziantepspor. Dominant in Greece, Olympiacos FC beat Xanthi FC 2-0 to stay 11 points in front, while Celtic FC's 11th successive win, a 4-0 triumph at Hibernian FC, put them 15 points clear in Scotland.
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