It was a contrasting weekend for this week's UEFA Champions League quarter-final participants. Arsenal FC equalled one of the most prestigious records in English football, while AS Monaco FC lost the Ligue 1 leadership to Olympique Lyonnais and Real Madrid CF fell to an unexpected loss.
A goal from Giovane Elber enabled defending French champions Lyon to climb into pole position for the first time this season as Monaco, who at one point were ten points clear, slipped up for the seventh time in ten games ahead of their Champions League quarter-final first leg against Madrid.
Fernando Morientes put Monaco ahead against FC Sochaux Montbéliard from the penalty spot after 57 minutes, but Mickaël Pagis popped up to deny Didier Deschamps' side with a stoppage-time equaliser. Elber's goal, struck midway through the first half against FC Nantes Atlantique, lifted Lyon top and means they have picked up seven wins and a draw from their last nine league games.
The only disappointment for Lyon coach Paul Le Guen, whose side face FC Porto in the Champions League, was midfield player Florent Malouda's 81st-minute dismissal for a second bookable offence.
Premiership leaders Arsenal will head into Wednesday's Champions League showdown with London rivals Chelsea FC in good heart after equalling the English record for the number of top-flight league games unbeaten from the start of the season.
Arsène Wenger's side beat Bolton Wanderers FC 2-1 at Highbury and are now unbeaten in 29 league games this season, equalling the record first established by Leeds United AFC in 1973/74 and matched by Liverpool FC in 1987/88. Robert Pires and Dennis Bergkamp were first-half scorers for Arsenal, before Iván Campo halved the deficit. The victory maintains the Gunners' nine-point advantage ahead of second-placed Chelsea, who were 2-1 winners against Fulham FC.
Del Horno double
In Spain, Madrid fell to a 4-2 loss at Athletic Club Bilbao on Saturday. After hauling themselves back from 2-0 down to level matters, Madrid looked well-placed but two late goals from left-back Asier Del Horno derailed the Spanish champions. On Sunday, Valencia CF closed the gap at the top to just one point with a 5-1 demolition of RCD Mallorca, Mista scoring a hat-trick.
Milan ten clear
In Italy, AC Milan warmed up for their Champions League quarter-final against RC Deportivo La Coruña by moving ten points clear at the top of Serie A with a 3-1 win against Parma AC. Jon Dahl Tomasson came in for the rested Filippo Inzaghi and scored twice while Andriy Shevchenko registered his 19th league goal of the season.
Rome derby abandoned
Elsewhere, defending champions Juventus FC drew 0-0 with Udinese Calcio while AS Roma saw their derby encounter with S.S. Lazio abandoned four minutes after half-time, with the score goalless, after consultations between officials and police. FC Internazionale climbed into sixth with a 2-0 victory against Ancona Calcio which condemned the latter to a record-equalling 28th consecutive Serie A game without a win.
Bremen get closer
SV Werder Bremen took another stride towards the German Bundesliga title with a 2-0 victory against VfL Wolfsburg to move eleven points clear on Sunday. Top-scorer Ailton missed a penalty but goals in the last 15 minutes from Ivan Klasnic and Johan Micoud turned the game in the visitors' favour.
Bremen's two closest rivals, FC Bayern München and VfB Stuttgart, were both held on Saturday, recording 1-1 and 2-2 draws against Hertha BSC Berlin and 1. FC Köln respectively.
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