Followers of Spanish and Italian football were in for a shock over the weekend as those juggernauts of the European game, Barcelona, Real Madrid and AC Milan, all suffered reverses against relatively modest opponents. But where they failed, the favourites in England, France and Germany managed to succeed, keeping their momentum going at the top of the standings. FIFA.com takes a look at the latest developments across the continent.
Premier League: Kuyt sparks derby joy for Reds
Dirk Kuyt grabbed the headlines in England this weekend after his two penalties handed Liverpool a much-needed derby win. Trailing 1-0 to city neighbours Everton at Goodison Park, Rafael Benitez's troops dug deep to turn the situation around and eventually owed a massive debt to the cool head of their Dutch forward.
Their fellow championship contenders did not slip up either, with frontrunners Arsenal showing patience in a 2-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers. Likewise, Manchester United offered up some sublime football as they swept aside Aston Villa 4-1 in Birmingham with Wayne Rooney on target twice. Sir Alex Ferguson's men remain just a point ahead of Manchester City, however, after Brazilian international Elano showed his class again to undo Birmingham City 1-0. Lastly, Didier Drogba and Alex were the scorers as Chelsea achieved a 2-0 victory at Middlesbrough.
Top three: Arsenal (25 pts), Manchester United
(23), Manchester City (22)
Bottom three: Tottenham Hotspur (7 pts), Derby County (6), Bolton Wanderers (5)
Top scorers: Benjani Mwaruwari (7 goals), Emmanuel Adebayor (6), Robin van Persie (5), Nicolas Anelka (5)
Weekend stat: Manchester United conceded their first league goal since 19 August.
La Liga: Real and
Eight games into the season and Spanish titans Barcelona and Real Madrid can no longer boast unbeaten records, after the Catalans went down 3-1 at Villarreal and their great rivals from the capital lost 2-1 at Espanyol. That dose of bad news for the championship pretenders proved a boon for Valencia, meanwhile, with Fernando Morientes and Co earning a 4-2 victory at Deportivo La Coruna to climb into third place at Barcelona's expense.
In front of their own fans at El Madrigal, Villarreal demonstrated to the critics that their recent exploits in La Liga have owed little to chance. Thanks to a Santi Cazorla strike and two penalties from Marcos Senna, the Yellow Submarines confidently saw off a Barcelona side reeling from injury troubles. Frank Rijkaard's men were briefly given hope when youngster Bojan Krkic got his name on the score-sheet, but with Samuel Eto'o and Ronaldinho still sidelined they failed to reel in their opponents. Leaders Real fared little better, conceding goals from Riera and Tamudo away to Espanyol before snatching a late consolation from Sergio Ramos.
Top three: Real Madrid (19 pts), Villarreal (18),
Bottom three: Getafe (5 pts), Real Valladolid (5), Levante (1)
Top scorers: Lionel Messi (6 gls), Sergio Aguero (5), Giuseppe Rossi (5)
Weekend stat: Bojan Krkic became the youngest scorer in Barcelona's history as he found the back of the net aged 17 years, one month and 22 days.
Serie A: Inter fly as fall short
While Roma and Napoli delivered their supporters plenty of fireworks in a scintillating 4-4 draw, AC Milan's fans were forced to swallow a 1-0 defeat at home to Empoli. Striker Luca Saudati fired in the only goal of the game to nudge the European champions further off the pace and they now lie as low as 11th in the standings, following a run of just two wins in their last eight outings.
Things could hardly be better for city rivals Inter, on the other hand, after Adriano made the difference in their 1-0 triumph over Reggina. As a result, Roberto Mancini's charges still lead the way at the top, one point clear of Juventus, who earned a narrow 1-0 success at home to Genoa in one of the most anticipated encounters of the eighth round of matches. The hero for the Bianconeri was none other than Alessandro Del Piero, celebrating his recent contract extension in style.
Top three: Inter (20 pts), Juventus (17),
Bottom three: Parma (6 pts), Reggina (4), Livorno (2)
Top-scorers: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (7 goals), Francesco Totti (7), David Trezeguet (7)
Weekend stat: Fans of Roma and Napoli had waited six years to enjoy another Derby del Sole (Derby of the Sun), traditionally considered one of the highlights of the Italian season.
Ligue 1: Lyon stay on course
Lyon are not going to give up their crown lightly, and the six-time French champions moved two points clear of their pursuers after adding to Monaco's woes with a 3-1 defeat. Juninho Pernambucano, Anthony Reveillere and Karim Benzema got the goals to give Alain Perrin's side breathing room at the top, following Nancy's 1-1 draw at home to struggling Sochaux. Nancy still have a game in hand, but Bordeaux can draw no such comfort after falling six points behind Lyon with a 1-1 stalemate at Strasbourg.
Elsewhere, Boudewijn Zenden's first strike in Ligue 1 powered Marseille to a 1-0 success over Lens on Sunday. The result pulled the Mediterranean outfit out of the relegation zone, while dropping Jean-Pierre Papin's visitors into the bottom three. A day earlier, Paris Saint-Germain and Valenciennes shared the spoils in a goalless draw.
Top three: Lyon (25 pts), Nancy (23), Rennes (21)
Bottom three: Lens (9 pts), Sochaux (8), Metz (5)
Top-scorers: Karim Benzema (11 goals), David Bellion (7), Kim (6)
Weekend stat: With 11 games played, Lyon youngster Karim Benzema has single-handedly scored at least as many goals as nine entire Ligue 1 sides.
Bundesliga: First hat-trick for Olic
Franck Ribery was the key man in Bayern Munich's 2-1 triumph at VfL Bochum, notching the first goal and setting up the second for Bastian Schweinsteiger. The French international made sure his team racked up their fifth straight win in the league, and they now enjoy a six-point cushion over second-placed Karlsruher after the newly-promoted side could only manage a goalless draw with Arminia Bielefeld.
Bayern's other closest challengers now hail from the north, where Werder Bremen saw off Hertha Berlin 3-2 to string together their fourth consecutive home success. Also on 20 points, fellow northerners Hamburger SV made light work of champions VfB Stuttgart, beating them 4-1 thanks to a hat-trick from Croatian talent Ivica Olic. Armin Veh's team have now lost their last three league meetings.
Top three: Bayern Munich (26 pts), Werder Bremen
(20), Hamburger SV (20)
Bottom three: Bochum (9 pts), Duisburg (9),
Energie Cottbus (4)
Top-scorers: Miroslav Klose (8 goals), Luca Toni (8), Rafael van der Vaart (7)
Weekend stat: Since the introduction of three points for a win in 1995/96, no team had collected 26 points after ten games until Bayern added yet another record to their list this weekend.
In Scotland, the race for the title was given fresh impetus by Rangers' 3-0 victory in the 375th Old Firm derby. Despite being favourites before the game, Celtic were undone by a Nacho Novo brace and a strike from captain Barry Ferguson, leaving the two old foes level at the summit with 22 points apiece.