The Bundesliga crown looks destined for Borussia Dortmund after results in Germany edged them closer to glory. English counterparts Manchester United enjoyed a positive weekend too as they moved clear at the top of the Premier League, with closest rivals Arsenal distracted by their shock loss to Birmingham City in the League Cup final.
In Serie A, Inter Milan posted an important victory against Sampdoria that hauled them right back into the title mix, while Barcelona restored their seven-point lead over Real Madrid in Spain and Ligue 1 top dogs Lille shared the spoils with Lyon. FIFA.com looks back over the highlights of the weekend action from Europe’s leading leagues.
Premier League: United march on
Leaders Manchester United avoided a slip-up at second-bottom Wigan Athletic, recording a healthy 4-0 success which featured two goals from young Mexican striker Javier Hernandez. The Red Devils now boast a four-point cushion ahead of second-placed Arsenal, who were otherwise occupied, losing to Birmingham City in the League Cup showpiece at Wembley Stadium.
In third, Manchester City slipped further off the pace after another frustrating display that saw Roberto Mancini’s men held to a 1-1 home draw by Fulham. As for Liverpool, in sixth, the Reds were consigned to a 3-1 reverse at third-bottom West Ham United which brought their positive run of results to an end. Fans of Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa had far more to be pleased about, as their heroes engineered a 4-0 win against Blackpool and a 4-1 defeat of Blackburn Rovers respectively.
Top three: Manchester United (60 points), Arsenal (56), Manchester City (50)
Bottom three: West Ham (28 points), West Bromwich Albion (28), Wigan (27)
Leading scorers: Dimitar Berbatov (19 goals), Carlos Tevez (18), Andrew Carroll (11)
Weekend stat: 14 – Fulham’s draw at City was their 14th of the season from 28 outings.
Ligue 1: Lille stay top
Needing to avoid a loss to see out the weekend in pole position, Lille held firm on home soil to record a 1-1 draw with Lyon. The northerners could have taken maximum points too, but after Ligue 1 top scorer Moussa Sow gave them an early lead with his 17th strike this season, the visitors were able to respond through Kim Kallstrom.
The stalemate sent Lille back above Rennes on goal difference after their nearest pursuers ramped up the pressure via a 2-0 win against Lens that sent them briefly top on Saturday. Champions Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain both closed in at the summit too, with third-placed OM coming from behind to dispatch Nancy 2-1 and PSG, in fourth, able to down Toulouse by the same scoreline.
Elsewhere, Bordeaux gave themselves vital breathing space from the relegation zone by seeing off Auxerre 3-0 and Saint-Etienne suffered a 2-0 setback at home against Nice. Having seemingly forced their way into the title reckoning a few weeks ago, Les Verts have failed to take a single point from their last three games.
Top three: Lille (46 points), Rennes (46), Marseille (45)
Bottom three: Monaco (25), Lens (24), Arles-Avignon (11)
Leading scorers: Moussa Sow (17 goals), Kevin Gameiro (15), Nene (13)
Weekend stat: 3 – Bordeaux’s three goals against Auxerre was only the second time they have plundered more than two in a game this season.
Bundesliga: Dortmund dominant
Nothing looks likely to stop Dortmund clinching their first title crown since 2002 after Jurgen Klopp’s men triumphed 3-1 at champions Bayern Munich. The leaders boast an extraordinary set of statistics for the current campaign, having secured 11 away wins and taken 58 points from 24 matches to surge 16 points clear of Bayern and leave second-placed Bayer Leverkusen 12 behind.
The closest team to Dortmund fell further out of the running as they let slip a two-goal advantage in the final ten minutes of their 2-2 draw with fourth-bottom Werder Bemen. One team able to improve their lot was Hannover, who made the most of Bayern’s defeat to go third via a 1-0 success against St. Pauli. Sixth-placed Hamburg continue to blow hot and cold following their 1-1 draw at Kaiserslautern and Schalke played out the same score at home against Nuremberg, meaning they have sealed just eight wins in 24 fixtures this term.
Top three: Dortmund (58 points), Leverkusen (46), Hannover (44)
Bottom three: Kaiserslautern (24), Stuttgart (22), Borussia Monchengladbach (19)
Leading scorers: Mario Gomez (18 goals), Papiss Cisse (16), Theofanis Gekas (14)
Weekend stat: 20 – Dortmund’s triumph at Bayern was their first in almost 20 years, their previous success there dating back to 12 October 1991.
Serie A: Udinese rampant
With frontrunners AC Milan not due to meet challengers Napoli until Monday evening, there was little movement at the top in Italy, aside from Inter’s rise to second on the back of a 2-0 victory at Sampdoria. Instead, a number of surprise outcomes caught the eye, led by a stunning 7-0 success for Udinese away to Palermo in which Alexis Sanchez struck four goals and Antonio Di Natale helped himself to the other three.
Heads were also turned by a fourth reverse in six games for seventh-placed Juventus, who slumped to a 2-0 loss at the hands of Bologna. As for Roma, they served up another of the weekend’s unusual storylines by failing to hold on to a two-goal lead against Parma, their opponents able to rescue a 2-2 draw thanks to a pair of Amauri goals in the space of five minutes.
Top three: AC Milan (55 points), Inter Milan (53), Napoli (52)
Bottom three: Cesena (25), Brescia (24), Bari (16)
Leading scorers: Antonio di Natale (21 goals), Edinson Cavani (20), Marco Di Viao and Samuel Eto’o (both 16)
Weekend stat: 7 – The number of times Palermo goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu had to pick the ball out of his net as Udinese duo Sanchez and Di Natale ran riot.
La Liga: Barça tighten grip
Barcelona extended their cushion to seven points in Spain thanks to the weekend’s results. Victory came with a minimum of fuss for the champions as they swept aside Mallorca 3-0, and that performance contrasted with the frustration endured by Los Merengues in their 0-0 draw at Deportivo La Coruna.
Espanyol enjoyed a similarly healthy success to city neighbours Barça as they downed Real Sociedad 4-1 to climb up to fifth. Third spot belongs to Valencia, meanwhile, who trailed for much of their meeting with Athletic Bilbao before engineering a 2-1 win.
Top three: Barcelona (68 points), Real Madrid (61), Valencia (51)
Bottom three: Real Zaragoza (24), Almeria (21), Malaga (20)
Leading scorers: Lionel Messi (26 goals), Cristiano Ronaldo (24), David Villa (17)
Weekend stat: 56 – Lionel Messi, David Villa and Pedro Rodriguez have buried 56 of Barcelona’s 76 league efforts this term, the trio netting more strikes between them than any other Liga team has managed this season.
It is as you were at the top of the standings in the Netherlands after the high-profile meeting between PSV Eindhoven and Ajax produced a goalless stalemate despite a strong finish from leaders PSV. That kept Fred Rutten’s charges five points clear of their opponents, with second-placed Twente unable to profit as they succumbed 2-1 to sixth-placed AZ.
In Portugal, frontrunners Porto continue to bear down on the title clinched by Benfica last season after they prevailed 3-0 at Olhanense. Eight points back, the champions are refusing to give up on their crown, though, and secured a 2-1 win against Maritimo thanks to a last-gasp Fabio Coentrao decider. Sporting Lisbon, in third, suffered a 1-0 setback at Nacional and lie a mammoth 18 points shy of a top-two berth.
The League Cup final took the headlines in England on Sunday as Birmingham City and Arsenal locked horns in front of a capacity Wembley crowd. Overwhelming favourites, the north London outfit were hoping to claim their first silverware since 2005 only to taste defeat following a defensive mix-up a minute from time. With the match seemingly poised for extra time at 1-1, Obafemi Martins pounced on hesitation at the back to spark euphoria among Birmingham’s fans and leave Arsenal nursing regrets.