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No stopping Juve and Barça

Published: Monday 13 December 2004, 12.05CET
Juventus FC and FC Barcelona continue to set the pace in Italy and Spain after convincing wins. features

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Published: Monday 13 December 2004, 12.05CET

No stopping Juve and Barça

Juventus FC and FC Barcelona continue to set the pace in Italy and Spain after convincing wins.
Juventus FC and FC Barcelona continue to set the pace in Spain and Italy after convincing weekend wins while honours were even in England between Arsenal FC and leaders Chelsea FC.

Barça clear
In Spain, a stunning Xavi Hernández volley four minutes from time helped FC Barcelona to a 2-1 win at Albacete Balompié and establish a nine-point lead at the top of the Primera División. Real Madrid CF's chance to cut that gap 24 hours later was curtailed by a bomb scare which led to their game with Real Sociedad de Fútbol being suspended in the 88th minute with the score at 1-1. RCD Espanyol pounced on the chance to move second by defeating RCD Mallorca 2-1.

Shevchenko smiling
Serie A leaders Juve picked up three points thanks to an 86th-minute free-kick from Pavel Nedved at Bologna FC on Sunday. They remain four points clear of AC Milan, who won 6-0 against ACF Fiorentina. The Italian champions, who travel to Juve next Saturday, were 2-0 ahead at half-time but two second-half goals from Andriy Shevchenko, the favourite for today’s European Footballer of the Year award, helped put the game beyond the visitors.

Derby duels
Thierry Henry took little over a minute to break the deadlock in Sunday's London derby with a spectacular strike for Arsenal, although Chelsea twice came from behind to record a 2-2 draw at Highbury. Henry also scored Arsenal's second but equalisers from John Terry and Eidur Gudjohnsen ensured Chelsea remain four points clear of Everton FC, who defeated Merseyside rivals Liverpool FC 1-0 on Saturday through Lee Carsley's goal.

PSV breached
It was a different story in France, where LOSC Lille Métropole came from behind to defeat FC Nantes Atlantique 2-1 and cut Olympique Lyonnais's Ligue 1 lead to three points as the champions were held to a goalless draw at FC Girondins de Bordeaux. The leaders were also pegged back in the Netherlands where a 3-3 draw ended PSV Eindhoven's run of 1,159 minutes without conceding and gave AZ Alkmaar the opportunity to close the gap to six points with their 12th consecutive victory.

Lead reduced
The Belgian leaders Club Brugge KV were beaten for the first time this season as Nenad Jestrovic scored the decisive goal in RSC Anderlecht's 2-1 home win. Victory would have taken Brugge ten points clear but instead they now hold just a four-point advantage. In Greece, Olympiacos CFP preserved their three-point lead over Panathinaikos FC with a 2-0 home win against Apollon Kalamarias FC as their rivals were beating Ergotelis FC 1-0.

Bayern held
FC Bayern München go into the Bundesliga break as 'winter champions' ahead of FC Schalke 04 on goal difference after coming from two goals down to draw 2-2 with VfB Stuttgart, who opened the scoring through Silvio Meissner. Kevin Kuranyi doubled the advantage on 65 minutes but Claudio Pizarro pulled a goal back for Bayern straight away and substitute Paulo Guerrero levelled with two minutes left. Schalke could still have led the way but dropped points in a 1-1 draw with SC Freiburg.

Porto prize
Finally on Sunday, Pedro Emanuel's spot-kick, the 15th of a rollercoaster penalty shoot-out, ensured FC Porto won the 2004 European/South American Cup following a goalless draw with CD Once Caldas in Yokohama. Porto hit the woodwork three times and had two goals disallowed in regulation time but when John Edwin García's penalty flew over the crossbar the stage was set for Emanuel to complete a remarkable year for Porto, who had Diego sent off.

Last updated: 13/12/04 13.32CET