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Madrid buck trend as races remain tight

Published: Monday 13 February 2012, 0.30CET
Real Madrid CF enjoyed a particularly productive weekend as they moved ten points clear in Spain, giving them a lead no doubt envied by their counterparts elsewhere in Europe.
Madrid buck trend as races remain tight
Cristiano Ronaldo was in superb form again for Madrid ©Getty Images features

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Published: Monday 13 February 2012, 0.30CET

Madrid buck trend as races remain tight

Real Madrid CF enjoyed a particularly productive weekend as they moved ten points clear in Spain, giving them a lead no doubt envied by their counterparts elsewhere in Europe.

Real Madrid CF were the weekend's big winners as they stretched their Liga lead into double figures following another slip from eternal rivals FC Barcelona. José Mourinho's men are no doubt drawing envious glances from further afield too, with Paris Saint-Germain FC's cushion cut to a single point in France and the situation still tight at the top in England, Germany and Italy. recaps the action.

Madrid took another significant stride closer to the Liga title after moving ten points clear of champions Barcelona. The Merengues came from behind to see off Levante UD 4-2 at home, thanks in part to Cristiano Ronaldo's sixth hat-trick this term. His goals compounded Barcelona's woes after the Catalan club were undone 3-2 at CA Osasuna on Saturday. "The league isn't lost yet," said Barça defender Carles Puyol. "We must be realistic and accept that it's complicated, but if this team has anything, it's that we will not give up." In third, Valencia CF swept aside struggling Real Sporting de Gijón 4-0, and Villarreal CF gave themselves breathing room in the lower reaches by downing Granada CF 3-1.

A single point separates the leading two after frontrunners Paris Saint-Germain failed to win for the first time under Carlo Ancelotti, drawing 0-0 at OGC Nice. That came after Montpellier Hérault SC piled on the pressure with a 3-0 defeat of AC Ajaccio, their seventh consecutive success in all competitions ahead of their trip to face PSG on Sunday. "We can't talk about that being a match for the title, but tonight we moved ten points clear of Lyon and that's a good thing," said Montpellier striker Olivier Giroud. Fourth-placed Olympique Lyonnais went down 2-1 at home to SM Caen, while, in third, champions LOSC Lille Métropole lost a nine-goal classic as Ludovic Obraniak struck an added-time winner for FC Girondins de Bordeaux.

Manchester City FC and Manchester United FC remain just two points
apart at the Premier League summit following 1-0 and 2-1 victories against Aston Villa FC and Liverpool FC respectively. Tottenham Hotspur FC are a further five points shy of United in third after coasting to a 5-0 defeat of Newcastle United FC. North London rivals Arsenal FC are ten points behind Spurs in fourth, meanwhile, courtesy of Thierry Henry's late winner at Sunderland AFC in the last league appointment of his loan spell back at the club. "It just shows you that these players never lose it – exceptional talent survives," manager Arsène Wenger said of his much-vaunted striker.

AC Milan lie top of the standings after fighting back from a goal down to prevail 2-1 at title rivals Udinese Calcio, Maxi López coming off the bench to score one and set up a late winner for Stephan El Shaarawy. That took the Rossoneri two points clear of Juventus, who were denied the chance to respond as their trip to Bologna FC was called off due to the weather. "In the first half, we made a few mistakes, but in the second we were more aggressive and fluid," said Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri. For their part, FC Internazionale Milano suffered another setback in the race for a UEFA Champions League berth as they lost 1-0 at home to ten-man Novara Calcio, and Cagliari Calcio edged US Città di Palermo 2-1.

Borussia Dortmund are still the team to catch at the head of the Bundesliga after their 1-0 victory against Bayer 04 Leverkusen, but FC Bayern München and VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach remain in hot pursuit. Bayern are second, two points adrift, thanks to their 2-0 defeat of 1. FC Kaiserslautern, with Mönchengladbach trailing by a further point following their comprehensive 3-0 home win against FC Schalke 04, who are fourth. "It's proof of our upward trend," said Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes of his team's victory. "It was a fully merited win, and we played very good football at times."

Galatasaray AŞ now enjoy a six-point cushion as leaders in Turkey after their 1-0 victory against Kayserispor was followed up by a 2-1 reverse at Kardemir Karabükspor for closest pursuers Fenerbahçe SK. RSC Anderlecht did not extend their seven-point advantage in Belgium, in contrast, but they struck a telling blow by posting a 2-1 win at rivals R. Standard de Liège. Over in the Netherlands, pacesetters PSV Eindhoven and AZ Alkmaar both triumphed to remain locked together on points, and FC Zürich won the Zurich derby as they dispatched Grasshopper-Club 2-0.

Last updated: 13/02/12 0.35CET

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