United and Hertha feel the heat
© AFP

Victories for Lyon, Inter Milan and Barcelona brought all three clubs a step closer to championship glory in their respective leagues, with the French, Italian and Spanish leaders successfully holding their nerve over the weekend. Premier League pacesetters Manchester United and Bundesliga frontrunners Hertha Berlin proved less steely, on the other hand, both suffering defeats that allowed their rivals to cut the gap at the top. FIFA.com brings you the highlights from another weekend of action across Europe's top leagues.

Premier League: Liverpool profit as rivals stumble
Hosting fifth-placed Aston Villa on Sunday, Liverpool knew that on paper they faced the hardest match contested by a top-four side this weekend. But after watching United lose 2-0 at Fulham and Chelsea succumb 1-0 at Tottenham Hotspur, they realised they could not waste their chance and promptly recorded a 5-0 win. Steven Gerrard scored a hat-trick as the Merseysiders closed to within a point of their great rivals from Old Trafford, having played one game more.

The other major beneficiaries of Liverpool's victory were Arsenal, who now enjoy a three-point cushion in the Premier League's fourth and final UEFA Champions League berth courtesy of their 3-1 triumph at Newcastle United.

Top three: Manchester United (65 pts), Liverpool (64), Chelsea (61)
Bottom three: Newcastle United (29), Middlesbrough (27), West Bromwich Albion (24)
Top scorers: Nicolas Anelka (15), Steven Gerrard and Cristiano Ronaldo (13)
Weekend stat: 6 - The number of consecutive wins recorded by Manchester City at home. Poor away form has limited them to tenth spot overall, though.

Ligue 1: Lyon back to winning ways
Marseille supporters found themselves daring to dream of the Ligue 1 crown on Sunday morning after their heroes had risen to the summit courtesy of a 2-0 win over Nantes the previous evening. Serial champions Lyon wasted no time in wresting back control, however, regaining focus to put their recent woes behind them with a comfortable 2-0 triumph over Sochaux.

Despite that success, the tussle at the top looks set to remain dramatic, with the six leading sides - Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Lille and Paris Saint-Germain - separated by a mere four points.

Top three: Lyon (56 pts), Marseille (55), Bordeaux (53)
Bottom three: Saint-Etienne (29), Caen (27), Le Havre (18)
Top scorers: Andre-Pierre Gignac (18), Guillaume Hoarau (15), Fernando Cavenaghi (13)
Weekend stat: 7 - The number of goals Toulouse have conceded at home this season. On Sunday it was PSG's turn to suffer at the Stadium Municipal, succumbing 4-1 to the hosts.

Serie A: Inter resist Juve pressure
Impressive 4-1 winners at Roma, Juventus continued their rich vein of form and look to be the only side capable of reeling in leaders Inter. I Nerazzurri do not look like cracking, however, and soon restored their seven-point advantage with a healthy 3-0 home victory over Reggina.

In the struggle for survival, Chievo were the weekend's primary winners as they defeated Palermo 1-0 to move six points clear of the drop zone.

Top three: Inter (69 pts), Juventus (62), AC Milan (55)
Bottom three: Torino (24), Lecce (24), Reggina (20)
Top scorers: Marco Di Vaio and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (19), Diego Milito (16)
Weekend stat: 5 - The number of consecutive wins Juve have racked up in Serie A.

La Liga: Barça breeze to victory
While Klaas-Jan Huntelaar cannot stop finding the back of the net for Real Madrid, having struck twice as Los Merengues saw off Almeria 3-0 on Sunday, Barcelona continue to thrill crowds with the quality of their play. Malaga were their victims this weekend, succumbing 6-0 as Josep Guardiola's men maintained their six-point lead over Real and the 15-point gap to third-placed Sevilla.

At the bottom of the standings, Jose Antonio Camacho's Osasuna emerged 1-0 victors against Espanyol but failed to escape the relegation places due to a 2-0 win for Mallorca over Atletico Madrid.

Top three: Barcelona (69 pts), Real Madrid (63), Sevilla (54)
Bottom three: Osasuna (29), Numancia (26), Espanyol (22)
Top scorers: Samuel Eto'o (25), Diego Forlan, David Villa and Lionel Messi (19)
Weekend stat: 59 - The number of goals scored by Barcelona's attacking trio of Samuel Eto'o (25), Lionel Messi (19) and Thierry Henry (15). The Blaugrana have notched a total of 84 goals in 28 matches so far this season.

Bundesliga: Hertha lose breathing space
Germany looks perfectly poised for an enthralling end to the current campaign after a tightening of the screws in the top four places. Hertha remain leaders in spite of Saturday's 2-0 reverse in Stuttgart, but they have a trio of teams breathing down their necks just one point back. Bayern Munich lie second on goal difference following their 1-0 win over Karlsruhe, with Wolfsburg next in line courtesy of a 3-0 reverse of Arminia Bielefeld, and Hamburg boasting the same points total following a 2-1 victory at Schalke.

Bochum moved three points clear of danger in the lower reaches, meanwhile, after they put together an important 1-0 win at Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Top three: Hertha Berlin (49 pts), Bayern and Wolfsburg (48, +22), Hamburg (48, +3)
Bottom three: Borussia Moenchengladbach (22), Energie Cottbus (20), Karlsruhe (17)
Top scorers: Vedad Ibisevic and Grafite (18), Patrick Helmes (17)
Weekend stat: 8 - The number of goals registered by Wolfsburg's Bosnian forward Edin Dzeko in consecutive games between rounds 19 and 24, before his run came to an end at the weekend.

Elsewhere
Olympiacos have been crowned Greek champions with three matches left to contest. Their 3-2 triumph at Panionios sealed a 12th title in the last 13 seasons for the Piraeus outfit and their 37th overall.

After dumping FC Zurich out of the Swiss Cup in midweek, Basel leapfrogged their rivals into pole position in the league by overcoming FC Vaduz 5-0. Zurich's 4-2 loss at Young Boys Berne means Christian Gross's team now lead the way by a single point.

There was a change at the top in Belgium, too, as Anderlecht seized the summit with a 2-0 victory over Germinal Beerschot, combined with a 1-0 defeat in Charleroi for defending champions Standard Liege.