European Leagues review
There were no changes of leadership in Europe’s most prestigious championships over the weekend, but that does not mean to say the frontrunners had things all their own way. Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bordeaux all had to come from behind to win their respective engagements, while Inter Milan and Bayern Munich were indebted to slip-ups on the part of their closest rivals as they stayed out front. FIFA.com reflects on the latest developments.
Premier League: United show their resolve
Manchester United came from behind to record a vital 2-1 win over Liverpool at Old Trafford, with goals from Wayne Rooney and Park Ji-Sung cancelling out Fernando Torres’s early opener. The result took United back to the top of the table, two points clear of Arsenal, who temporarily held the lead after downing West Ham United 2-0 on Saturday. Two points further back in third are Chelsea, who drew 1-1 at Blackburn Rovers.
Fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur boosted their hopes of securing the final UEFA Champions League slot with a hard-fought 2-1 triumph at Stoke City. Manchester City stayed within two points of the Londoners after seeing off Fulham by the same scoreline at Craven Cottage, with Liverpool dropping to sixth. Aston Villa, who drew 2-2 at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers, remain seventh with a game in hand on the Merseysiders.
Top three: Manchester United (69 pts), Arsenal (67), Chelsea (65)
Bottom three: Burnley (24), Hull City (24), Portsmouth (13)
Leading scorers: Wayne Rooney (26 goals), Didier Drogba (22), Darren Bent (20)
Weekend stat: 6 - Arsenal’s move up to second has come on the back of six consecutive wins, their best run for two and a half years.
La Liga: Real, Barça march on
Real Madrid fell a goal behind to Sporting Gijon but battled back to win 3-1 and maintain their perfect league record at the Santiago Bernabeu this season. Following their every step are Barcelona, who won 4-2 at Zaragoza, with the inimitable Lionel Messi scoring his second league hat-trick in a week.
In the battle for the minor placings Valencia beat Almeria 2-0 to stay third, while Sevilla ended a miserable week by going down 2-0 at Espanyol. Mallorca jumped above the misfiring Andalusians into fourth courtesy of a 4-1 romp at home to Atletico Madrid.
Top three: Real Madrid, Barcelona (68 pts), Valencia (50)
Bottom three: Real Valladolid, Tenerife (23), Xerez (18)
Leading scorers: Lionel Messi (25 goals), Gonzalo Higuain (20), David Villa (17)
Weekend stat: 18 - Valencia handed Almeria their first defeat in eight matches but remain some 18 points adrift of Spain’s big two.
Serie A: More Sicilian woes for Inter
Sicily has not been a happy hunting ground for Inter Milan in recent days. A week after falling to a 3-1 defeat at Catania, I Nerazzurri dropped two more points in a 1-1 draw at Palermo, who are riding high in fourth. That result gave AC Milan the chance to relieve Inter of their long-held leadership when they took on Napoli at home on Sunday. I Rossoneri fluffed their lines, however, and shared the points following a disappointing 1-1 draw.
Roma closed the gap on the leading duo thanks to a handsome 4-2 defeat of Udinese, with three of the goals coming from their Montenegrin striker Mirko Vucinic. Antonio di Natale hit both Udinese’s goals to extend his lead in the Serie A scoring charts. Sampdoria jumped above Juventus into fifth after edging out the Turin giants 1-0 in Genoa.
Top three: Inter Milan (60 pts), AC Milan (59), Roma (56)
Bottom three: Atalanta, Siena (25), Livorno (24)
Leading scorers: Antonio di Natale (21 goals), Diego Milito (17), Alberto Gilardino (14), Giampaolo Pazzini (13)
Weekend stat: 8 - Antonio Cassano’s solitary strike was enough for Sampdoria to beat Juventus for the first time at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris since a 2-0 triumph in 1995, when both Samp’s goals came from Enrico Chiesa.
Bundesliga: Off-key Bayern hang on to top spot
Bayern Munich’s closest challengers failed to cash in on their shock 2-1 defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday. Bayer Leverkusen remain three points off the pace in third after slumping 3-0 at Borussia Dortmund, two of whose goals came from Argentinian forward Lucas Barrios.
Schalke then had their chance to overtake Bayern when they faced Hamburg on Sunday. Felix Magath’s side looked as if they would do just that when they led 2-1 with 13 minutes remaining. A goal from Burkina Faso international Jonathan Pitroipa rescued a point for the hosts, though, and kept the Bavarians ahead of the pack.
Bottom club Hertha Berlin pulled off a stunning 5-1 win at reigning champions Wolfsburg but remain in deep trouble, seven points behind Nuremberg in 15th place.
Top three: Bayern Munich (56 pts), Schalke (55), Bayer Leverkusen (53)
Bottom three: Hannover, Freiburg (23), Hertha Berlin (18)
Leading scorers: Stefan Kiessling (16 goals), Lucas Barrios, Kevin Kuranyi, Edin Dzeko (15)
Weekend stat: 19 - Eintracht Frankfurt produced a dramatic late comeback to end Bayern Munich’s 19-game unbeaten run, Juvhel Tsoumou and Martin Fenin scoring in the final three minutes as Eintracht moved up to eighth.
Ligue 1: Bordeaux stand tall
Trailing to Eden Hazard’s 24th-minute strike, Bordeaux hit back hard to run out 3-1 winners against Lille and retain pole position. Still second on goal difference, Montpellier maintained their challenge by seeing off Valenciennes 2-1, while Marseille stayed in touch when they beat Lyon by the same score at the Stade Velodrome.
Auxerre remained in the thick of things by squeezing past Le Mans 2-1, and Rennes swept Toulouse aside 4-1 to collect their third straight win and stay seventh. Down at the other end of the table, Boulogne kept their hopes of survival alive by disposing of Lorient 2-0, allowing them to cut the gap on Saint-Etienne to six points.
Top three: Bordeaux, Montpellier (56 pts), Auxerre (55)
Bottom three: Boulogne (23), Le Mans (21), Grenoble (15)
Leading scorers: Mamadou Niang (15 goals), Nene (13), Mevlut Erding, Asamoah Gyan, Lisandro Lopez (12)
Weekend stat: 3 - The number of teams who held the lead in Ligue 1 over the course of the weekend. After disposing of Le Mans 2-1 on Saturday Auxerre moved top only to be replaced for a short while on Sunday by Montpellier, who were themselves overtaken by reigning champions Bordeaux.
Shakhtar Donetsk pulled two points clear at the summit in Ukraine after they downed Zorya Lugansk 2-0 and fellow title aspirants Dinamo Kiev drew 1-1 with Metalurg Donetsk.
In the game of the day in the Netherlands, leaders Twente played out a 1-1 stalemate with PSV, who lost their hold on second place to Ajax, emphatic 5-1 winners at RKC Waalwijk.