Doubles prove decisive
© AFP

Getting on the score-sheet is always special. Netting twice is that extra bit special, though, and there was double joy for a number of players across Europe over the weekend.

In scoring terms, nonetheless, these players' two-goal returns paled in comparison to one striker in the Dutch Eredivisie, who rewrote the history books by scoring seven times on Sunday. With interesting developments in England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Scotland, FIFA.com reflects on the action.

Premier League: Top three win, Liverpool slip-up
The top three going into the round - namely leaders Arsenal, runners-up Manchester United and Manchester City - all won over the weekend, but fourth-placed Liverpool's recent troubles continued when they dropped two points at home. In fact, it took a last-gasp Fernando Torres header to rescue the Reds a 2-2 draw after a Robbie Keane brace had put Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 up at Anfield.

Elano scored twice to inspire Manchester City to a 3-1 reverse of Middlesbrough and Robin van Persie also hit a double, his second goal ten minutes from time earning Arsenal a 3-2 win over Sunderland. Two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo helped Manchester United beat Wigan Athletic 4-0 at home, although the Portuguese winger was outshone by his Argentine team-mate Carlos Tevez, whose superb performance included the opening goal.

Top three: Arsenal (22 pts), Manchester United (20), Manchester City (19)
Bottom three: Fulham (7 pts), Bolton Wanderers (5), Derby County (5)
Top scorers: Emmanuel Adebayor (6 gls), Benjamin Mwaruwari (6), Nicolas Anelka (5), Robin van Persie (5)
Weekend stat: Manchester United's clean sheet against Wigan was their sixth successive shutout in the league.

Ligue 1: Lyon and Nancy pass tests
Lyon and Nancy cleared steep hurdles to move on to 22 points, three clear of third-placed Le Mans. If Nancy's title credentials had been questioned prior to their trip to the Stade Louis II then 90 minutes against Monaco erased those doubts. The standout performer was Kim, whose two goals helped Pablo Correa's team to a 3-1 win.

In a top-of-the-table clash against Bordeaux, Lyon ran out 3-1 winners to keep their noses in front of Nancy on goal difference, although the Stade Marcel Picot side does possess a game in hand. Meanwhile, there was more misery for two stuggling giants, Paris Saint Germain losing 3-1 at home to Rennes and Marseille going down 1-0 at Saint Etienne.

Top three: Lyon (22 pts), Nancy (22), Le Mans (19)
Bottom three: Marseille (7 pts), Sochaux (7), Metz (5)
Top scorer: Karim Benzema (10 gls), David Bellion (6), Tulio De Melo (6)
Weekend stat: Lille scored three times for the first time this term, their 3-0 defeat of Valenciennes their first victory in their last eight attempts in the league.

Bundesliga: Karlsruhe and Werder climb
Predictably, Bayern Munich swept aside Nurnberg 3-0 in the 176th Bavarian derby, a Ze Roberto effort sandwiched by Luca Toni goals at the Allianz Arena. Unpredicatably, their nearest challengers are now newly-promoted Karlsruhe, whose latest upset was their most impressive so far this season. Away at Schalke 04, who sat second going into the round, a Christian Timm double clinched the visitors a 2-0 success and ensured they remain five points behind Bayern.

Hannover ended Stuttgart's 19-game unbeaten run at the Gottlieb-Daimler Stadion, an unanswered pair of goals from Szabolcs Huszti earning Die Roten victory and dropping the reigning champions down to 12th in the standings, while Werder Bremen won 3-1 at Duisburg to climb to third.

Top three: Bayern Munich (23 pts), Karlsruhe (18), Werder Bremen (17)
Bottom three: Duisburg (6 pts), Nurnberg (6), Energie Cottbus (4)
Top scorers: Miroslav Klose (8 gls), Luca Toni (8), Rafael van der Vaart (7)
Weekend stat: Rafael van der Vaart netted the only goal as Hamburger SV sunk Arminia Bielefeld and in doing so, equalled Uwe Seeler's long-standing club record of scoring in seven consecutive Bundesliga games.

Serie A: Inter establish cushion
Inter Milan strengthened their grip on pole position as their two closest challengers going into the round shared the spoils. Two first half goals from Argentina forward Ricardo Cruz proved enough for Roberto Mancini's side to see off guests Napoli 2-1, a result which took them three points clear at the summit courtesy of a stalemate at the Stadio Franchi. There, Vincenzo Iaquinta's strike looked to have done enough for second-placed Juventus to claim all three points, but Adrian Mutu's late penalty against his old club snatched Fiorentina a 1-1 draw.

A Francesco Totti double propelled Roma to a 3-0 win at Parma, which elevated them up to third, while doubles apiece from Kaka and Alberto Gilardino powered AC Milan to a 5-1 away win over Lazio which kept them seven points off the pace.

Top three: Inter Milan (17 pts), Juventus (14), Roma (14)
Bottom three: Empoli (5 pts), Reggina (4), Livorno (2)
Top scorer: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (7 gls), David Trezeguet (7), Kaka (6), Francesco Totti (6)
Weekend stat: Andrea Mandorlini picked up the maiden Serie A victory of his coaching career, leading Siena to their first win of the season, 3-0 over Empoli.

La Liga: Real stay top, Barça dazzle
Leaders Real Madrid left it late to see off Recreativo Huleva, but Barcelona dominated from the outset en route to a 3-0 defeat of Atletico Madrid, which keeps them two points adrift of their arch-rivals. Another attacking masterclass from Lionel Messi was the catalyst in Barça's fourth straight league victory, although Deco, Ronaldinho and Thierry Henry all played their part in a memorable exhibition at the Nou Camp.

Real Madrid did not have it all their own way against Recreativo Huelva and with 20 minutes remaining, the deadlock remained intact at the Bernabeu. However, Ruud van Nistelrooy finally broke the visitors' stern resistance 16 minutes from time, and Gonzalo Higuain sealed a 2-0 win in added time.

Top three:
Real Madrid (19 pts), Barcelona (17), Villarreal (15)
Bottom three: Real Valladolid (5 pts), Getafe (2), Levante (1)
Top scorers: Lionel Messi (6 gls), Sergio Aguero (5), Giuseppe Rossi (5)
Weekend stat: Lionel Messi scored for the sixth match running to leave himself top of the scoring charts and on course to become the first Argentina-born player to claim the Pichichi award since Juan Antonio Pizzi in 1996.

Elsewhere
Feyenoord replaced Ajax, who shared four goals with Sparta Rotterdam, in the Eredivisie driving seat courtesy of a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Vitesse, but the story of the round unfolded at the Abe Lenstra Stadion. There, Afonso Alves was on target seven times in Heerenveen's 9-0 win over Heracles, setting an Eredivisie record in the process. Indeed, no player had ever scored seven goals in one game, with the previous best of six being shared by Dirk Lammers, Pierre Kerkhoffs, Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten.

Over in Scotland, Rangers lost 1-0 at home to Hibernian and their arch-rivals Celtic took full advantage, albeit in dramatic circumstances, ahead of the Old Firm derby in two weeks' time. Trailing away at Gretna with a mere five minutes remaining, Chris Killen put the Bhoys on level terms before Scott McDonald produced an injury time winner for Gordon Strachan's side. The result left Celtic one point clear of second-placed Hibs, with Rangers a further two points back in third.

In the Croatian PRVA HNL, goals from Luka Modric and Mario Mandzukic earned Dinamo Zagreb a 2-1 win over Hajduk Split in the Eternal Derby. The victory at the home of their arch-rivals kept Dinamo seven points clear of NK Rijeka, who undid third-placed Zadar 2-0.