'It's not over until the final whistle' is a footballing mantra that was patently taken to heart by a clutch of Europe's leading teams at the weekend. Bayern Munich, Juventus and Liverpool all struck late to claim maximum points, but an equally last-gasp effort condemned high-flying Hamburg to defeat. FIFA.com reviews the latest action.
Premier League: United march on, Blues stumble
Champions Manchester United have begun to assume a mantle of near-invincibility, with Ryan Giggs striking the only goal on the hour to seal the points away to West Ham United. The Red Devils remain top, and can go five points clear by winning their game in hand. Elsewhere, Liverpool left it very late indeed at Portsmouth. In the absence of injured skipper Steven Gerrard, the Reds twice came from behind through Fabio Aurelio and, in the 85th minute, Dirk Kuyt, before Fernando Torres fired home the winner with practically the last kick. The home side previously led through David Nugent and Hermann Hreidarsson.
Aston Villa’s tenth victory on their travels this term, a 2-0 success away to Blackburn Rovers, moved the Villans above an out-of-sorts Chelsea side and into third. The Blues could do no better than a 0-0 draw at home to promoted Hull City. The North London derby between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal also ended goalless.
Top three: Manchester United (56 points), Liverpool (54), Aston Villa (51)
Bottom three: Blackburn Rovers (23), Middlesbrough, West Bromwich Albion (both 22)
Leading scorers: Nicolas Anelka (14 goals), Robinho, Cristiano Ronaldo (both 11)
Weekend stat: 100 – Germany captain Michael Ballack chalked up 100 appearances for Chelsea against Hull.
Serie A: Inter improve lead, Juve snatch win
Christian Poulsen scored a last-gasp winner for Juventus at Catania. The Danish midfielder struck in the second minute of stoppage time to make the score 2-1, after Vicenzo Iaquinta and the home side’s Takayuki Morimoto had been on target. AC Milan dropped two valuable points in a 1-1 draw with bottom club Reggina.
By contrast, Inter Milan cruised to a routine victory over Lecce. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luis Figo and Dejan Stankovic scored in a 3-0 win.
Top three: Inter Milan (53 points), Juventus (46), AC Milan (45)
Bottom three: Torino, Chievo (19 points), Reggina (16)
Leading scorers: Marco di Vaio (15 goals), Alberto Gilardino, Diego Milito, Zlatan Ibrahimovic (all 14)
Weekend stat: 17 - Luis Figo of Inter scored at club level for the first time in 17 months. The former Portugal star last hit the target on 26 September 2007, in a 3-0 success against Sampdoria.
La Liga: Barça and Real win again
Real Madrid chalked up a seventh win on the bounce and remain Barcelona’s only realistic rivals for the title in Spain, although the Catalan giants maintained their 12-point lead at the summit. Real beat Racing Santander 1-0 with a Gonzalo Higuain strike just after half-time. Barça had little trouble dealing with Sporting Gijon, Samuel Eto'o netting a first-half double in a 3-1 win.
The chasing pack contrived to lose ground on the big two. Sevilla fell 2-1 to struggling Real Betis in their derby, while Valencia lost 1-0 to Osasuna.
Top three: Barcelona (59 points), Real Madrid (47), Sevilla (38)
Bottom three: Numancia (20 points), Espanyol, Mallorca (both 18)
Leading scorers: Samuel Eto'o (21 goals), David Villa (17), Lionel Messi (16)
Weekend stat: 2 – Barcelona's Eto'o netted a brace for the fourth time this season. The Cameroonian also has a hat-trick and a four-goal display to his name.
Bundesliga: Bayern progress as rivals slip
Matchday 19 in Germany was a good one for champions Bayern, who went second in the standings with a 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund. Germany striker Miroslav Klose struck twice in the last five minutes to seal the points for Jurgen Klinsmann's team. Nelson Valdez had fired the visitors in front with just two minutes on the clock, but Ze Roberto levelled midway through the first half.
None of the other leading teams proved capable of winning. Leaders Hoffenheim scored in the last minute to salvage a 1-1 draw away to tailenders Borussia Monchengladbach, while Hertha Berlin shared the spoils with Arminia Bielefeld. Hamburg fared even worse, tossing away a 2-0 lead to lowly Karlsruhe en route to a 3-2 defeat, which was sealed with the final kick of the match.
Top three: Hoffenheim (39 points), Bayern (38), Hertha Berlin (37)
Bottom three: Karlsruhe (16 points), Bochum (14), Borussia Monchengladbach (12)
Leading scorers: Vedad Ibisevic (18 goals), Patrick Helmes (13), Artur Wichniarek, Grafite, Milivoje Novakovic (all 12)
Weekend stat: 108 - Bayern fell behind at home to Borussia Dortmund just 108 seconds into the match; the fastest goal conceded by the champions this term.
Ligue 1: Lyon stretch lead
Lyon enjoyed a highly satisfactory weekend in Ligue 1. Jean II Makoun struck twice and Karim Benzema also scored in their 3-1 defeat of Nice, a result which sent Les Gones four points clear at the top.
Lyon profited from second-placed Bordeaux's 1-0 defeat by fourth-placed Marseille, Marouane Chamakh’s 57th-minute own goal ultimately separating the sides. Paris Saint-Germain beat Nantes 4-1 to go level on points with Bordeaux.
Top three: Lyon (46 points), Bordeaux, Paris Saint-Germain (both 42)
Bottom three: Sochaux, Valenciennes (both 20 points), Le Havre (15)
Leading scorers: Andre-Pierre Gignac (14 goals), Guillaume Hoarau (13), Fernando Cavenaghi (12)
Weekend stat: 0 – Toulouse keeper Cedric Carrasso has yet to concede a goal in 2009. Carrasso kept a clean sheet for the fourth time in a row at the weekend.
The Swiss Super League roared back into action after the winter break with an exciting derby. Fourth-placed Grasshoppers drew 2-2 with visiting leaders FC Zurich, Gonzalo Zarate firing a stoppage-time equaliser for the home side, who were down to ten men.
In the Greek Super League, Panathinaikos beat PAOK Saloniki 3-0 to leapfrog their opponents into second place. Leaders Olympiacos came away from Panserraikos with a 2-0 win to go fully 12 points clear at the top.