Paris Saint-Germain FC and Juventus suffered defeats at the summit in France and Italy on a weekend that brought FA Cup woe for Arsenal FC and a fresh Lionel Messi milestone.
Article top media content
There was drama at the top of the table in France and Italy as both Paris Saint-Germain FC and Juventus tasted defeats and allowed their pursuers to close the gap. Arsenal FC were the highest profile victims on a weekend of FA Cup action in England, while FC Bayern München and FC Barcelona posted fresh wins that maintained their healthy leads. UEFA.com recaps the action.
FC Sochaux-Montbéliard breathed new life into the title race with a 3-2 success against league leaders PSG that played into the hands of Olympique Lyonnais. Cédric Bakambu scored with six minutes remaining to give PSG a first taste of defeat since 1 December. "We did not play a great game and we were exhausted after the match against Valencia in midweek," said midfielder Blaise Matuidi. "Tonight, everyone was to blame. That is a negative and we will have to ask ourselves questions." Lyon eased to a 4-0 win at FC Girondins de Bordeaux to move within three points of the top, while third-placed Olympique de Marseille also won, courtesy of an added-time goal against Valenciennes FC.
"We didn't play as a team and anyone can beat us when we perform like that. We took a step back today and I hope this serves as a lesson for us," said Juventus coach Antonio Conte after watching the Serie A leaders succumb to Francesco Totti's thumping second-half finish in a 1-0 defeat at AS Roma. Second-placed SSC Napoli failed to capitalise, however, as they played out a 0-0 draw at home to US Sampdoria that keeps them four points back, while AC Milan forward Mario Balotelli scored his fourth goal in three outings to secure a 2-1 victory against Parma FC. That lifted the Rossoneri into fourth, ahead of FC Internazionale Milano, who lost 4-1 at ACF Fiorentina.
There was no doubting the story of the weekend in England as Arsenal suffered the worst of preparations for Tuesday's UEFA Champions League meeting with FC Bayern München by losing 1-0 at home to second-tier Blackburn Rovers FC in the FA Cup. "If we feel sorry for ourselves, we would be completely wrong," said Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger. "We have a massive game on Tuesday night and we have to show that we have some response in the team." More successful were Manchester City FC, who beat Leeds United AFC 4-0 in their fifth round tie, while Chelsea FC saw off Brentford FC by the same scoreline in a fourth round replay. On Premier League duty, Liverpool FC moved up to seventh by swatting aside Swansea City AFC 5-0.
Lionel Messi grabbed the limelight once again with yet another milestone as Barcelona fought back to prevail 2-1 at Granada CF. Still only 25, the Argentinian forward struck his 300th goal for the club to level the scores and grabbed the winner with his 301st. "It's good that he keeps adding to [his tally]," said Barça defender Jordi Alba, whose side face Milan on Wednesday. "Today we struggled, but Leo decided the match. 301 goals for Messi – whatever anyone says will come up short." A distant 12 points back in second, Club Atlético de Madrid conjured their first away win in three months by prevailing 3-0 at Real Valladolid CF, while Real Madrid CF lost Sergio Ramos to an early red card but defeated Rayo Vallecano de Madrid 2-0.
Another week, another win for Bayern as the runaway Bundesliga leaders maintained their 15-point cushion by triumphing 2-0 at VfL Wolfsburg, with Arjen Robben notching his first league goal this term. "Today was maybe not more important than the game against Arsenal, but it helped for the game ahead," commented Bayern captain Philipp Lahm. "We won again, and again without conceding a goal, so we have confidence." Second spot still belongs to champions Borussia Dortmund after they downed Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0 courtesy of a Marco Reus hat-trick, while third-placed Bayer 04 Leverkusen defeated FC Augsburg 2-1. As for FC Schalke 04 – due to tackle Galatasaray AŞ on Wednesday – they drew 2-2 at 1. FSV Mainz 05.
There was no inch given in Portugal as the top two both won to remain locked together on 49 points. FC Porto – who face Málaga CF on Tuesday – returned from SC Beira-Mar with a 2-0 win, while SL Benfica were 1-0 victors against A. Académica de Coimbra. In Turkey, Didier Drogba came off the bench to score on his debut and set up Burak Yılmaz for the other in Galatasaray AŞ's 2-1 success at Akhisar Belediyespor, a result which stretched Cimbom's lead at the top to six points. FK Austria Wien prevailed 2-1 against SK Rapid Wien in the 304th Vienna derby, with Philipp Hosiner striking twice, and PSV Eindhoven remain three points clear in the Netherlands. They carved out a 2-1 success against FC Utrecht, before second-placed AFC Ajax ran out 2-0 winners at RKC Waalwijk.