Weekend round-up: United win throws race wide open

Manchester United FC beat Arsenal FC, as Real Madrid CF hit form and Juventus FC lost their unbeaten record.

The tussle for the English title looks like being the tightest for years after Arsenal FC's defeat at Manchester United FC on a weekend that saw Real Madrid CF hit stunning form and Juventus FC suffer their first league defeat this season.

Two-point gap
Arsenal's lead was cut to two points after suffering a 2-0 loss, the first time they had failed to score in the Premiership for 55 games. Juan Sebástian Verón put United ahead in the first half and Paul Scholes added a second after the break. Just four points now separate the top four, with Chelsea FC, who won 3-1 at fifth-placed Everton FC, second, United up to third and Liverpool FC, who lost 2-0 at in-form Charlton Athletic FC and have now not won in five league matches, fourth. UEFA Champions League contenders Newcastle United FC are sixth, but with a game in hand, after Alan Shearer's late goal ensured a 1-0 win at Aston Villa FC.

Spectacular Madrid
Madrid ended RCD Mallorca's nine-game unbeaten run with a spectacular 5-1 away victory. Ronaldo, on target in the European/South American Cup triumph on Tuesday, scored twice, as did Raúl González. Guti, the other goalscorer in Yokohama, got the fifth. However, unbeaten Real Sociedad remain top of the Primera División after winning 1-0 at Sevilla FC while Valencia CF are four points behind in second following a 2-0 victory at home to Real Racing Club Santander. RC Deportivo La Coruña warmed up for their latest Champions League meeting with Manchester United with a 1-1 draw against bottom-placed RC Recreativo de Huelva. FC Barcelona, who are aiming for an eighth straight Champions League win when they host Newcastle, suffered another domestic defeat, 1-0 at Rayo Vallecano.

Juve fall to Brescia
Brescia Calcio were the first team to overcome Juventus in Serie A this term as they secured a 2-0 victory with goals from Markus Schopp and Igli Tare. Juventus could have moved level on points with leaders AC Milan, who beat AS Roma 1-0, but instead the Turin side are fourth. S. S. Lazio dropped to second as they were held 3-3 by third-placed Internazionale FC at the Stadio Olimpico, despite leading 3-0 on 38 minutes through Claudio López's hat-trick, Fernando Couto's own goal and Emre Belözoglu's second-half double giving the visitors a point. Inter coach Héctor Cúper said: "To come back from 3-0 down is a great achievement."

Bayern clear
FC Bayern München are now eight points clear in the German 1. Bundesliga after a 3-0 win at VfB Stuttgart, Alexander Zickler opening the scoring and Roque Santa Cruz adding two more. BV Borussia Dortmund won 3-1 at home to lowly 1. FC Kaiserslautern to move up to second, as SV Werden Bremen were held 1-1 at FC Schalke 04. Bayer 04 Leverkusen hit form ahead of their Tuesday Champions League trip to Inter, winning 3-0 at TSV 1860 München.

Ajax held
Of the other Champions League competitors in action, Dutch first division leaders AFC Ajax remain unbeaten but saw their advantage over PSV Eindhoven cut to one point as they were held 1-1 by bottom-placed De Graafschap, while FC Basel won 4-1 at FC Wil 1900, and lie second going into the Swiss National League winter break.

Besiktas end rivals' run
Galatasaray SK's Turkish Super League record run of 25 straight home wins ended as unbeaten Besiktas JK reclaimed first place with a 1-0 win, while in another of Europe's big derby meetings, Rangers FC went top of the Scottish Premier League as they beat 'Old Firm' Glasgow rivals Celtic FC 3-2 despite falling behind on 19 seconds.