There was no shortage of big games this weekend as the leaders in Europe's major championships mostly enjoyed productive outings, although Real Madrid CF's Liga cushion has now been cut to a single point. In contrast, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea FC and FC Bayern München all extended their advantages, while Manchester City FC clinched silverware. UEFA.com recaps the action.
Madrid remain on top of the Liga pile after salvaging a 2-2 draw at Club Atlético de Madrid in a thrilling capital derby. Cristiano Ronaldo hit a late equaliser for the visitors after the Colchoneros had threatened to take over at the summit on their head-to-head record. "We've drawn a game we were losing, and we can be happy with that," commented Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti. "Now we are leading the table and we've got seven more home games and five away." The Merengues nonetheless stand just a point clear after FC Barcelona responded by sweeping aside UD Almería 4-1, Alexis Sánchez, Lionel Messi, Carles Puyol and Xavi Hernández getting the goals.
Juventus landed another impressive blow in the Serie A title race by securing a 2-0 success at AC Milan to climb 11 points ahead of closest pursuers AS Roma. "These are three very important points, but we've got to be very careful," said Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. "It's not over yet and Roma are a very strong side who have no other competitions to take part in." The Giallorossi also boast a game in hand, though their hopes took a dent as they could only draw 0-0 with FC Internazionale Milano. In third, SSC Napoli were held 1-1 at struggling AS Livorno Calcio, while fourth-placed ACF Fiorentina lost 1-0 at home to SS Lazio.
Things went Chelsea's way in the Premier League as they stretched their advantage to four points by defeating Fulham FC, while nearest challengers Arsenal FC lost at Stoke City FC. "We wanted the three points, we needed them and with the three goals for me it's the perfect day," said André Schürrle who plundered a treble in the Blues' 3-1 win. A Jon Walters penalty ensured the Gunners fell 1-0 at Stoke, meanwhile, and they have now been replaced in second by Liverpool FC on goal difference, the Reds having triumphed 3-0 at Southampton FC. On the knockout front, Manchester City lifted the English League Cup, coming from behind to defeat Sunderland AFC 3-1 in the final at Wembley.
It was a good weekend for Ligue 1 leaders Paris as they moved eight points out in front courtesy of a 2-0 triumph at home against arch-rivals Olympique de Marseille, Maxwell and Edinson Cavani making the difference. "I think Paris will definitely finish up as champions," noted OM coach José Anigo afterwards. "I don't see Monaco as superior to Paris." Indeed, AS Monaco FC failed to keep the pressure on due to a 2-0 reverse at AS Saint-Étienne, which moved Les Verts third for an evening before LOSC Lille came from behind to win 3-2 at AC Ajaccio, a Salomon Kalou hat-trick taking the northerners back into the top three.
Bayern took another major stride towards the Bundesliga title, stretching their advantage to 20 points with 11 games remaining by powering to a 5-1 win against fourth-placed FC Schalke 04. "It was one of the best first halves I've seen since I've been here," said hat-trick hero Arjen Robben, Bayern having surged into a four-goal lead inside 28 minutes. As for Borussia Dortmund, they moved back up to second following a 3-0 win against 1. FC Nürnberg, replacing Bayer 04 Leverkusen, who endured a third successive league defeat, 1-0 to 1. FSV Mainz 05. "If we want to keep second place, we've got to win as many as possible," said BVB's Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
AFC Ajax gave their Dutch title prospects a major boost with a 2-1 comeback success away against Feyenoord in De Klassieker. Joël Veltman hit the decisive goal to take the Eredivisie champions eight points clear of FC Twente, who drew 1-1 at FC Utrecht. Over the border, Club Brugge KV closed within four points of Belgian pacesetters R. Standard de Liège courtesy of a 1-0 victory against the team at the top, Jesper Jørgensen hitting the target. In Greece, finally, Olympiacos FC suffered their first league reverse of the campaign, going down 3-0 at home to Panathinaikos FC, though they still lead the way by 19 points.
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