On a busy weekend of European action FC Bayern München got back on track but Real Madrid CF lost for the first time in eleven games.
RCD Espanyol provided perhaps the weekend's most notable result as they subjected Real Madrid CF to their first defeat in eleven games, winning 2-1 at the Montjuic stadium on Sunday. Raúl González clipped home his eleventh goal of the season after just 24 seconds but Francisco Flores's side fought back to spoil Vicente del Bosque's 100th game as Madrid coach, as Enrique de Lucas equalised before the break and then Raúl Tamudo struck a 75th-minute winner.
The defeat means RC Celta de Vigo, who claimed a hard-earned 1-0 win at RCD Mallorca on Saturday, stay top of the Primera División table on goal difference ahead of Madrid. Espanyol's neighbours FC Barcelona, meanwhile, were in blistering form as they hit six past CD Tenerife, with Patrick Kluivert grabbing four goals. At the Municipal de Riazor stadium, RC Deportivo La Coruña fell to a 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Deportivo Alavés.
Bayern back in business
In Germany, champions FC Bayern München stated a strong case for their defence of the 1. Bundesliga title with a 2-0 dismissal of Bayer 04 Leverkusen on Sunday - their first league victory since 3 November. Goals from Giovane Elber and Stefan Effenberg sealed the victory and Bayern are now in fourth place with 37 points, six points behind leaders BV Borussia Dortmund. Dortmund took over at the summit on Saturday but will be disappointed with their 1-1 draw at VfL Wolfsburg. Dortmund took the lead in the third minute through Jörg Heinrich but were unable to build on their advantage.
Juventus close gap
In Italy, Juventus FC climbed to within a point of the Serie A summit on Sunday as leaders AS Roma were held to a 2-2 draw at AC Fiorentina. The Bianconeri were comfortable 3-0 winners over US Lecce on an afternoon Roma had to fight back from two goals down to claim a point in Florence. Brazilian midfield player Emerson's 75th-minute goal secured a share of the spoils for the champions after Antonio Cassano had halved their two-goal deficit after 54 minutes. Juventus had no such problems against Lecce, as goals from Antonio Conte, David Trezeguet and Alessandro del Piero proved to be the difference. The victory - Marcello Lippi's 150th as a coach in Serie A - lifts Juventus to second place with 43 points, ahead of Internazionale FC on goal difference. Inter were held 0-0 by Torino Calcio on Saturday.
United ease to victory
Manchester United FC remained top of the FA Premiership in England, but Arsenal FC lost ground on the leaders as Liverpool FC reaffirmed their title credentials. United eased to a 4-1 home victory against Sunderland AFC, Dutch striker Ruud van Nistlerooij scoring twice, while Arsenal were held to a 1-1 draw by Southampton FC at Highbury.
Liverpool on form
On Sunday, Liverpool were convincing 4-0 winners at Leeds United AFC - their third victory in succession. Emile Heskey and Michael Owen were both on the scoresheet after a Rio Ferdinand own goal had given the visitors the lead. Meanwhile, former England captain Alan Shearer scored twice as Newcastle United FC earned a 3-2 victory against Bolton Wanderers FC to stay second behind United.
Feyenoord maintained the pressure on Eredivisie leaders AFC Ajax with a 5-0 defeat of Roda JC on Sunday. Brett Emerton and Pierre van Hooijdonk both scored twice in a five-star performance by Feyenoord, while Ajax came from behind to win 3-1 at Willem II thanks to two goals in the dying minutes from Nikos Machlas and Pius Ikedia secured the win.
Mario Jardel hit yet another hat-trick as Sporting Clube de Portugal eased past nine-man UD Leiria with a 4-1 win in the Portuguese first division on Saturday. Sporting's victory took them back to the top of the table, one point in front of Boavista FC. Meanwhile, FC Porto continued their push for an eighth appearance in the UEFA Champions League with their second 1. Liga win in eight days, José Mourinho's side moving above UD Leiria thanks to a solitary Deco penalty against basement club Varzim SC. SL Benfica kept pace with the leading clubs after a 4-1 home win over ten-man SC Beira Mar.
PSG lose ground
Paris Saint-Germain FC lost ground on the top two in France after picking up only a goalless draw against Montpellier Hérault SC while RC Lens and Olympique Lyonnais won their games. Lens remain in pole position after beating AS Monaco FC 1-0 to preserve their unbeaten record at the Félix-Bollaert stadium this season. Lyon are eight points behind in second place after a convincing 4-1 win against FC Metz.