Juventus and Real Madrid CF were the big winners in Italy and Spain this weekend as the top teams across the rest of the continent cancelled each other out. UEFA.com recaps the action.
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Juventus and Real Madrid CF enjoyed fruitful weekends to cement themselves at the top in Italy and Spain respectively, while there was no change at the summit in Germany, England or France as league pacesetters matched their rivals stride for stride. UEFA.com rounds up the highlights from across the continent.
Madrid took advantage of FC Barcelona's Liga absence, due to FIFA Club World Cup commitments, as a dominant 6-2 win at Sevilla FC ensured they take a lead into the winter break. "We've achieved our objective," said Cristiano Ronaldo, who hit his fifth Liga hat-trick of the season. "We leave for Christmas with a three-point cushion." Two goals from Roberto Soldado kept Valencia CF seven points behind the leaders after a 2-0 win against Málaga CF, while fourth-placed Levante UD dropped further off the pace as goals from Guillherme Siqueira and Abel condemned the former frontrunners to a 2-1 defeat at Granada CF.
It is as you were at the head of the Bundesliga after the top four all recorded victories, most impressively third-placed FC Schalke 04 who defeated SV Werder Bremen 5-0, Raúl González scoring a hat-trick. "We beat one of our direct rivals who had crept up behind us in the table," said the former Madrid man. The wins leaves Schalke three points behind leaders FC Bayern München, who had Mario Gomez, David Alaba and Toni Kroos to thank for a 3-0 win against 1. FC Köln. Two goals from Robert Lewandowski contributed to a 4-1 Borussia Dortmund win at bottom-placed SC Freiburg, while fourth-placed VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach enjoyed a one-goal victory against 1. FSV Mainz 05.
Juventus grabbed the outright lead of Serie A as they took advantage of Udinese Calcio's 2-2 draw with S.S. Lazio. Simone Pepe and Fabio Quagliarella took the Turin club past second-bottom Novara Calcio ahead of their meeting with the Zebrette on Wednesday. Bianconeri coach Antonio Conte said: "We'll enjoy today's victory and tomorrow we'll turn our attention to the game against Udinese. We want to end 2011 in a positive way and exceed expectations." A goal from Giampiero Pinzi 17 minutes from time rescued a point at Lazio, meaning Udinese are level on 31 points with AC Milan, who defeated AC Siena 2-0 on Saturday. FC Internazionale Milano's resurgence continued, winning 1-0 win at AC Cesena to move fifth.
The focus remains on Manchester in the Premier League after David Silva scored the only goal of the game as Manchester City FC defeated Arsenal FC to restore their two-point lead at the top on Sunday. Manchester United FC had briefly jumped above City after winning at Queens Park Rangers FC earlier in the day, goals coming from Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick. "If we get to New Year's Day and we are in the ball park we will have a very good chance come the second half of the season," said United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Tottenham Hotspur FC remain third after defeating Sunderland AFC 1-0, while Chelsea FC dropped back, drawing 1-1 at Wigan Athletic FC.
Montpellier Hérault SC and Paris Saint-Germain FC remain inseparable at the Ligue 1 summit after both being held. On Saturday, Toulouse FC's Cheikh Mbengué cancelled out Geoffrey Dernis's seventh-minute opener as Montpellier drew 1-1 at home, while PSG versus Lille finished goalless on Sunday. Olympique Lyonnais closed the gap at the top to two points, level with Lille, as goals from Jimmy Briand and Lisandro edged them to a 2-1 win against Évian Thonon Gaillard FC. Coach Rémi Garde said: "We continue to advance. We're in touch and that was the goal for the end of the year. We will go forward from here."
PSV Eindhoven closed the gap at the top of the Eredivisie to just a point as leaders AZ Alkmaar slipped to a 2-1 defeat at NAC Breda. PSV swept aside sc Heerenveen 5-1, Ola Toivonen and Georginio Wijnaldum each scoring twice, while AFC Ajax defeated ADO Den Haag to keep in touch, five points off the pace. In Portugal, SL Benfica and FC Porto remain locked on 33 points at the top after the capital club eased to a 5-1 victory against Rio Ave FC – Nolito notching twice – before Porto recorded a 2-0 home win against CS Marítimo. SV Ried surrendered top-spot in Austria, drawing 1-1 with SK Sturm Graz, while goals from Atdhe Nuhiu and Deni Alar allowed SK Rapid Wien to lead the pack, defeating FC Admira/Wacker Mödling 2-1.