The first trophy of term was handed out in France and the top two in England went on a goalscoring spree as the season's run-in gathered pace, while the leaders in Germany and Italy fell to bitter defeats. FIFA.com reviews the weekend action in the leading leagues around Europe.
Premier League: Top two run amok
After putting five without reply past bottom club Portsmouth in midweek, Chelsea again went on the rampage with a thumping 7-1 win over Aston Villa. Frank Lampard netted four of the goals at Stamford Bridge. However, it was still not enough to go top, as champions Manchester United cruised to a 4-0 win away to Bolton.
Third-placed Arsenal lost ground in a 1-1 draw away to Birmingham. Substitute Samir Nasri handed the visitors the lead nine minutes from time, but lethal veteran Kevin Phillips levelled in time added on. Tottenham beat doomed Portsmouth 2-0 to stay in pole position in the race for fourth spot, with Liverpool still four points behind with an extra game played despite overcoming Sunderland 3-0.
Top three: Manchester United (72 points), Chelsea (71), Arsenal (68)
Bottom three: Hull City (27), Burnley (24), Portsmouth (13)
Leading scorers: Wayne Rooney (26 goals), Didier Drogba (24), Darren Bent (20)
Weekend stat: 151 –Lampard is now third in Chelsea’s all-time goalscoring charts, behind only Bobby Tambling (202) and Kerry Dixon (193).
Bundesliga: Schalke go top as Bayern slip
A second consecutive 2-1 defeat cost Bayern the lead in the standings. The men from Munich fell to a rare home reverse against south German foes Stuttgart, and had to watch as Schalke leapfrogged them on Saturday evening with an assured 2-0 victory in the big game of the weekend away to third-placed Bayer Leverkusen.
Werder Bremen made it three wins on the trot, beating Nuremberg 4-2 to strengthen their grip on fifth, but fourth-placed Borussia Dortmund were held to a goalless stalemate by tail-enders Hertha Berlin. Sixth-placed Hamburg fell 1-0 away to mid-table Borussia Munchengladbach and are now four points off northern rivals Werder.
Top three: Schalke (58 points), Bayern (56), Leverkusen (53)
Bottom three: Freiburg (24), Hanover (23), Hertha Berlin (19)
Leading scorers: Kevin Kuranyi (17 goals), Edin Dzeko, Stefan Kiessling (both 16)
Weekend stat: 1 – The defeat to Stuttgart was not only Bayern’s first home reverse of term, it also cost them top spot in the table.
Serie A: Roma throw race wide open
In the top-of-the-table clash on Saturday, second-placed Roma beat champions Inter 2-1 and cut the gap between themselves and I Nerazzuri to a single point. AC Milan passed up the chance to go level on points with Roma and remain third after a 1-1 home draw with Lazio.
After three games without a win, Juventus released some of the pressure by beating Atalanta 2-1, a result which puts the men from Turin right back into the race for Europe. Seventh-placed Sampdoria were held 1-1 at home to Cagliari, but Napoli and Palermo in fifth and fourth remained on course, with a 1-0 victory against Catania and a 4-1 triumph against Bologna respectively.
Top three: Inter (63 points), Roma (62), AC Milan (60)
Bottom three: Atalanta (28), Siena (26), Livorno (25)
Leading scorers: Antonio di Natale (21 goals), Diego Milito (18), Alberto Gilardino (15)
Weekend stat: 48 – Napoli, Juventus and Sampdoria, in fifth, sixth and seventh, are dead level on 48 points. Juve have also scored precisely 48 goals.
La Liga: Top two continue remorseless march
Leaders Real Madrid and champions Barcelona continue to rack up victories with monotonous regularity. The men from the capital edged a 3-2 win over city rivals Atletico to reclaim top spot from Barça, who beat fourth-placed Mallorca the day before by the only goal of the game.
Mallorca were not the only also-rans to slip up. Third-placed Valencia lost 3-0 away to Zaragoza, and Sevilla went under by the same score away to Villarreal, causing a yawning 21-point chasm to open up between the big two and the rest. Seventh-placed La Coruna lost touch with the European qualifying places in a 3-1 defeat at home to Getafe, two spots below them in the standings.
Top three: Real Madrid, Barcelona (both 74), Valencia (53)
Bottom three: Tenerife (25), Valladolid (24), Xerez (22)
Leading scorers: Lionel Messi (25 goals), Gonzalo Higuain (23), David Villa (18)
Weekend stat: 11 – the length of Real Madrid’s winning run in the league.
Ligue 1: Race still too close to call
Leaders Bordeaux could easily have been knocked off top spot this weekend, as the champions were away on League Cup final duty. But it was not to be, as second-placed Montpellier lost 4-1 away to fourth-placed Lille. The promoted club remain level on points with Les Girondins but have played two games more.
The title race remains as tight as any in living memory. Fifth-placed Lyon are level with Lille and now only two points off the lead after a routine 2-0 victory over tail-enders Grenoble. Third-placed Auxerre visit Monaco on Monday, and can seize top spot with a win. In the League Cup final, a 75,000 full house at Stade de France saw Marseille claim the trophy with a 3-1 win over holders Bordeaux.
Top three: Bordeaux, Montpellier (both 56 points), Auxerre (55)
Bottom three: Boulogne-sur-Mer (23), Le Mans (21), Grenoble (15)
Leading scorers: Mamadou Niang (15 goals), Nene (13), Kevin Gameiro, Mevlut Erding, Asamoah Gyan, Lisandro Lopez (all 12)
Weekend stat: 17 –Olympique Marseille’s League Cup triumph was their first for 17 years.
In the Russian Premier Liga, Spartak beat Moscow rivals Lokomotiv 2-1 to register a first win of the new campaign. Three games into the season, Spartak Nalchik lead the nascent standings from champions Rubin Kazan.
The Turkish metropolis of Istanbul was the scene for another closely-fought derby, with Fenerbahce midfielder Selcuk Sahin striking a 70th-minute winner to snatch the points away to Galatasaray. A six-game winning streak for leaders Bursaspor came to an unexpected end in a 2-1 defeat away to Istanbul BB. Double winners Besiktas made up ground with a 3-2 victory over Eskisehirspor. Bursaspor continue to lead the standings from Fener, Besiktas, and Gala.