Though Bordeaux lost at Rennes and Bayer Leverkusen drew away to Bochum, fellow leaders Barcelona, Chelsea and Inter Milan were all in fine form this weekend. The sides in second kept the pressure firmly on, however, with Manchester United, Real Madrid, Roma, Bayern Munich and Montpellier all winning. FIFA.com reviews the latest developments across Europe.
Premier League: Drogba, Kuyt settle big games
Didier Drogba scored both goals as Chelsea beat third-placed Arsenal to keep themselves in pole position. Manchester United kept in touch with the Blues thanks to a resounding 5-0 defeat of Portsmouth, while a solitary Dirk Kuyt goal gave Liverpool three points against city rivals Everton and helped them clamber back into the top four.
Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa did their respective UEFA Champions League chances little good by cancelling each other out in a 0-0 draw, and Manchester City stayed sixth after going down 2-1 at Hull City. Burnley were the big movers down at the wrong end of the table, edging out West Ham United 2-1 at Turf Moor to climb out of the relegation zone and consign the Hammers to the bottom three.
Top three: Chelsea (58 pts), Manchester United (56), Arsenal (49)
Bottom three: West Ham United, Wolverhampton Wanderers (21), Portsmouth (15)
Leading scorers: Wayne Rooney (21 goals), Didier Drogba (17), Jermain Defoe (15)
Weekend stat: 12 - Didier Drogba obviously enjoys playing against Arsenal. The Ivorian’s match-winning brace on Sunday took his tally of goals against the Gunners to 12 in as many games.
La Liga: Maximum points for Barça, Real
Despite being reduced to ten men with over an hour to play, Barcelona were still too good for Getafe, easing to a 2-1 win, their fifth victory in a row. Real Madrid kept the gap to five points with a comfortable 3-0 reverse of Espanyol, while Valencia consolidated their place in the top three by downing Valladolid 2-0.
Sevilla slipped to fifth after going down 2-1 at Real Zaragoza, with Mallorca, 1-0 winners at home to Villarreal, leapfrogging them into fourth. Racing Santander and Atletico Madrid played out a 1-1 draw in the late game on Sunday, bringing an end to a tempestuous weekend in which nine red cards were shown in all.
Top three: Barcelona (55 pts), Real Madrid (50), Valencia (42)
Bottom three: Real Valladolid (18), Tenerife (17), Jerez (11)
Leading scorers: Lionel Messi (16 goals), David Villa (15), Gonzalo Higuain (12)
Weekend stat: 5 - The number of consecutive wins Barcelona have now put together, and the number of points that continue to separate them from Real Madrid.
Serie A: Inter extend lead, Roma go second
Inter Milan put more daylight between themselves and chasing AC Milan, easing to a 3-0 win over Cagliari while their city rivals drew 0-0 at Bologna. Roma capitalised on I Rossoneri’s slip-up by prevailing 1-0 at Fiorentina to move into second, some eight points behind the leaders, who also have a game in hand. Napoli stayed fourth despite going down 3-1 at Udinese, Antonio Di Natale hitting all the goals for the home side.
Juventus’s woes continued as they fell to seventh after a 1-1 draw away to Livorno. Catania moved out of the drop zone with a 1-0 win at Lazio, a result that leaves the struggling Romans occupying one of the relegation places. Atalanta stayed in the bottom three despite a welcome 1-0 home victory over Bari. However, there was no such joy for rock-bottom Siena, beaten 2-1 at home by Sampdoria.
Top three: Inter Milan (52 pts), Roma (44), AC Milan (42)
Bottom three: Lazio (22), Atalanta (20), Siena (13)
Leading scorers: Antonio Di Natale (16 goals), Diego Milito (14), Paulo Vitor Barreto, Giampaolo Pazzini (11)
Weekend stat: 3 - Antonio Di Natale scored twice in injury time to complete a hat-trick against Napoli, taking him to the top of the scoring chart with 16 goals.
Bundesliga: Bayern stride alongside leaders
Bayer Leverkusen saw their lead in Germany reduced to goal difference after they were held 1-1 at Bochum and in-form Bayern Munich won 3-1 at Wolfsburg. The chasing pack faltered, meanwhile: Schalke’s visit to Freiburg ended goalless and Borussia Dortmund lost 3-2 at home to Eintracht Frankfurt.
Winless since 21 November, Werder Bremen finally collected three points with a 2-1 victory over rock-bottom Hertha Berlin, whose season shows no signs of improving. Still unbeaten under Christian Gross, Stuttgart made it five wins on the bounce when they saw off Nuremberg 2-1.
Top three: Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich (45 pts), Schalke (42)
Bottom three: Hannover (17), Nuremberg (16), Hertha Berlin (11)
Leading scorers: Stefan Kiessling (13 goals), Kevin Kuranyi, Lucas Barrios (11)
Weekend stat: 2 - Bayern Munich centre-back Daniel van Buyten has had quite a week, scoring twice in the space of seven days, signing a two-year extension on his contract with the Bavarians and celebrating his 32nd birthday on Sunday. Two is also the goal difference separating second-placed Bayern from leaders Bayer.
Ligue 1: Montpellier close on Bordeaux
Bordeaux fell victim to an inspired Rennes team on Saturday, going down 4-2 to allow Montpellier to close the gap on them yet further. The southerners are now just three points behind after overcoming lowly Boulogne 2-0. Lille stay third despite a 1-1 draw at Nice, while Lyon remain fourth following their goalless draw at Toulouse.
Marseille moved up to fifth after putting five past Valenciennes, and Paris Saint-Germain continued their worrying slide down the standings after suffering a 3-0 reverse at home to Lorient. PSG are now hovering above the relegation zone, one place above Saint-Etienne, who aided their cause by easing past Monaco 3-0. Grenoble are still bottom despite collecting three points for only the second time this season with a 5-0 victory over Auxerre, who had not conceded in their previous four games.
Top three: Bordeaux (48 pts), Montpellier (45), Lille (41)
Bottom three: Le Mans, Boulogne (16), Grenoble (10)
Leading scorers: Nene (13 goals), Gervinho (11), Mamadou Niang (10)
Weekend stat: 3 - The number of sides that have won the French league title the season after winning promotion to the top flight. Currently three points behind Bordeaux, newly promoted Montpellier still have hopes of emulating the achievements of Bordeaux in 1950, Saint-Etienne in 1964 and Monaco in 1978.
Swiss Super League leaders Young Boys had a weekend to forget, going down 4-0 to their closest challengers Basel, who are now only four points off the pace.
The main attraction in the Dutch Eredivisie was the visit of second-placed Twente to Ajax, the team immediately below them in the table. The Amsterdam side came out on top, strolling to a 3-0 win. They remain third, however, some nine points adrift of leaders PSV, 2-0 victors at home to Den Haag.