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Leading lights protect their margins

Published: Sunday 16 February 2014, 23.50CET
The weekend went according to plan for the leading trio in Spain and the pacesetters in Italy, Germany and France, while Arsenal FC and Manchester City FC won high-profile FA Cup ties.

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Published: Sunday 16 February 2014, 23.50CET

Leading lights protect their margins

The weekend went according to plan for the leading trio in Spain and the pacesetters in Italy, Germany and France, while Arsenal FC and Manchester City FC won high-profile FA Cup ties.

The weekend went according to plan for the teams at the head of Europe's most prestigious leagues, with the leading trio in Spain maintaining the suspense in their title tussle. Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and FC Bayern München were similarly successful, while Arsenal FC and Manchester City FC won the high-profile FA Cup ties in England. recaps the action.

There is still precious little between the top three in Spain after FC Barcelona, Real Madrid CF and Club Atlético de Madrid all triumphed. Barça occupy first spot on goal difference and clinched a dominant 6-0 home win against Rayo Vallecano de Madrid that featured a Lionel Messi double, the Argentinian forward becoming the player with the most goals for a single Spanish club. "We play better when we have fun," said coach Gerardo Martino. "Today we entertained a lot of people." Real Valladolid CF were 3-0 victims at the hands of Atlético, who won "with good feelings" according to goalscorer Diego Godín, before Madrid kept pace on Sunday by toppling Getafe CF by the same scoreline.

Manchester City beat Premier League leaders Chelsea FC 2-0 to progress to the FA Cup quarter-finals – where they will have the opportunity to avenge last season's final defeat by Wigan Athletic FC. Arsenal are still in the running too after edging Liverpool FC 2-1 and will host an Everton FC side who saw off Swansea City AFC 3-1. "If you want to win the cup, you have to be prepared to face everyone," said Toffees manager Roberto Martínez. "We'll have to be at our best, but it's something to look forward to." Sunderland AFC beat Southampton FC 1-0, while third-tier Sheffield United FC are the lowliest team remaining following victory against Nottingham Forest FC.

Paris remain five points clear in Ligue 1 after sweeping aside Valenciennes FC 3-0 on Friday. "I am satisfied with the team," said coach Laurent Blanc. "When you can kill the game, you must kill it. This time we did it in the 50th minute." As for nearest rivals AS Monaco FC, they edged SC Bastia 2-0 courtesy of a James Rodríguez double, while third-placed LOSC Lille dropped 13 points off the pace due to a 2-2 stalemate at Évian Thonon Gaillard FC. In fourth, AS Saint-Étienne kept Olympique de Marseille behind them thanks to a late leveller in a 1-1 draw against the Mediterranean outfit.

Juventus bounced back from dropping points last weekend, returning to winning ways via a 3-1 success against AC Chievo Verona. "These lads continue to surprise me in a positive manner, and I hope they keep doing so," commented Bianconeri coach Antonio Conte. The win leaves the leaders nine points ahead of AS Roma, who prevailed 3-0 against UC Sampdoria, though the Giallorossi still boast a game in hand. In third, SSC Napoli eased to a 2-0 victory at US Sassuolo Calcio, while FC Internazionale Milano closed the gap on fourth-placed ACF Fiorentina by downing the Viola 2-1.

Runaway leaders Bayern eased to a 4-0 triumph against SC Freiburg and maintained their remarkable unbeaten run this season thanks in part to a pair of goals from Xherdan Shaqiri. "We enjoyed ourselves today and we're all delighted about winning the match," the Switzerland schemer enthused. The result hauled Josep Guardiola's men 16 points clear of second-placed Bayer 04 Leverkusen, who succumbed 2-1 at home to FC Schalke 04, while Borussia Dortmund sent four goals past Eintracht Frankfurt without reply. 

AFC Ajax remain four points clear in the Netherlands after defeating sc Heerenveen 3-0 on a special day for Dutch legend Johan Cruyff. In Turkey, meanwhile, Fenerbahçe SK enjoy a five-point gap after beating Kasımpaşa SK 2-1 ahead of Galatasaray AŞ's Monday fixture at Antalyaspor. As for FC Basel 1893, they maintained their five-point cushion in Switzerland thanks to a 1-0 success against FC Sion, with BSC Young Boys – 5-3 victors against FC Lausanne-Sport – their closest pursuers. Lastly, UEFA Champions League contenders Olympiacos FC are cruising in Greece, 20 points clear after their 4-2 win against Platanias FC was followed up by defeat for second-placed PAOK FC at Asteras Tripolis FC.

Last updated: 17/02/14 6.26CET

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