European Leagues review
As befits Halloween, the teams sitting atop the major European leagues gave themselves a considerable scare at the weekend, and while some found a way to overcome their nerves and emerge unscathed, stage fright proved too much to handle for others. FIFA.com takes a look back at all the key moments across the continent's leading championships.
Premier League: Contenders do just enough
Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United consolidated the top three spots, although they were made to work hard for maximum hauls. The Blues’ gruelling 2-1 success at Blackburn Rovers and the Gunners’ 1-0 victory over rock-bottom West Ham United both came courtesy of late goals, Branislav Ivanovic and Alexandre Song scoring the respective winners. Alex Ferguson’s unbeaten charges, meanwhile, had an 84th-minute Nani strike to thank for cementing their 2-0 reverse of Tottenham Hotspur, who remain fifth.
Chelsea now enjoy a five-point gap over their nearest challengers, who have in turn broken away from Spurs and Manchester City, who lie fourth. Roberto Mancini's men sustained their second successive league defeat when they were surprised 2-1 by lowly Wolverhampton Wanderers. And Maxi Rodriguez provided Liverpool with some much-needed breathing space by notching the only goal of the game away to Bolton Wanderers, earning the Reds a win that elevated them to 12th.
Top three: Chelsea (25 points), Arsenal, Manchester United (both 20)
Bottom three: Blackburn Rovers, Wolverhampton Wanderers (both 9 points), West Ham United (6)
Top scorers: Florent Malouda, Kevin Nolan, Carlos Tevez (all 7 goals)
Weekend stat: 502 – The number of minutes that Chelsea’s defence had gone unbreached prior to Blackburn striker Benjani opening the scoring on Saturday.
La Liga: Real and Barça in fearsome form
Cristiano Ronaldo’s mission to terrorise Spanish top-flight defences shows no sign of letting up. The Portuguese was in fine fettle once again with a vital late brace in leaders Real Madrid's 3-1 win away to Hercules, who had threatened to cause an upset after going ahead early on through David Trezeguet. Second-placed Barcelona remain in touch with their eternal rivals after dismantling ten-man Sevilla 5-0 at Camp Nou.
La Liga now has a familiar look to it, with the big two benefitting from the slip-ups suffered by high-flyers Villarreal and Valencia, who were both held 1-1, by Sporting Gijon and Zaragoza respectively.
Top three: Real Madrid (23 points), Barcelona (22), Villarreal (20)
Bottom three: Malaga, Deportivo (both 7 points), Zaragoza (4)
Top scorers: Cristiano Ronaldo (11 goals), Lionel Messi (7), Giuseppe Rossi, Fernando Llorente (both 6)
Weekend stat: 1 – After scaling the heights in the league with six games gone, Valencia have now taken just one point from their last three matches.
Bundesliga: Dortmund in dreamland
A club with a glorious past, Borussia Dortmund showed on Sunday that great days may also lie ahead. By defeating surprise leaders Mainz 2-0 away from home, the 1996/97 UEFA Champions League winners duly overtook their opponents at the top of the table. The weekend’s other high-profile clash saw Hoffenheim dispose of Hannover 4-0 to move up to third.
Bayern Munich now sit seventh, their 4-2 defeat of mid-table Freiburg providing Bavarian supporters with some cheer following their club’s dreadful start to the season. At the bottom, the spectre of relegation is starting to loom for both Stuttgart, beaten 2-0 at Wolfsburg, and Schalke, undone 1-0 by Bayer Leverkusen.
Top three: Borussia Dortmund (25 points), Mainz (24), Hoffenheim (18)
Bottom three: Stuttgart (7 points), Schalke, Borussia Monchengladbach (both 6 points)
Top scorers: Theofanis Gekas (9 goals), Papiss Cisse (8), Edin Dzeko (7)
Weekend stat: 50 – By finding the net on four occasions against Freiburg, Bayern increased – in the space of 90 minutes – their total number of goals by 50 per cent.
Serie A: Lazio edge victory, Juve upset Milan
Ten-man Lazio were made to fight for their 1-0 triumph in Palermo, with Andre Dias’s goal proving sufficient in the end. Inter Milan remain four points off the pace set by the Roman outfit, although Rafa Benitez's charges were made to seriously sweat in a 1-0 victory over Genoa.
AC Milan’s dream of a fifth win in a row turned into a nightmare as a resurgent Juventus side pocketed all three points at the San Siro, and in doing so moved up to fourth. Elsewhere, Roma leapt into the top half of the table with a 2-0 defeat of Lecce.
Top three: Lazio (22 points), Inter Milan (18), AC Milan (17)
Bottom three: Cesena, Bologna, Bari (all 8 points)
Top scorers: Samuel Eto'o (7 goals), Edinson Cavani (6), Marco di Vaio, Alessandro Matri (both 5)
Weekend stat: 3 – The number of points that separate Palermo, in tenth, and tailenders Bari.
Ligue 1: Brest make presence felt
Impressively consistent since the beginning of the season, unfancied Brest now sit proudly atop of Ligue 1. On Saturday it was Saint-Etienne’s turn to be put to the sword by the promoted Breton side, who ran out solid 2-0 winners. It is worth noting that the weather also had an indirect hand in Brest’s success, with torrential rain in the south of France causing the postponement of the top-of-the-table clash between Rennes and Marseille.
Lyon’s players put their 3-2 midweek League Cup defeat by Paris Saint-Germain behind them by beating Sochaux 2-1 at home. In overcoming struggling Nice 2-0 and securing a first home win of the season, Auxerre finally chased away the demons that have been haunting them at Stade de l’Abbe Deschamps.
Top three: Brest (21 points), Rennes (19), Marseille (18)
Bottom three: Lens (10 points), Monaco (9), Arles-Avignon (2)
Top scorers: Dimitri Payet (8 goals), Youssef El-Arabi (7), Nene, Gregory Pujol (both 6)
Weekend stat: 2 – The number of occasions in Brest’s history that the club has reached the summit of the French top flight. The last time they achieved such a feat was on 12 August 1986.
It was first against second in the Netherlands, where Twente’s resilient 1-0 away win over PSV saw the Enschede-based side leapfrog their more celebrated adversaries into pole position. The leadership also changed hands in Switzerland, with Lucerne’s 4-1 loss to Sion allowing Basel, 3-1 winners over Bellinzone, to assume the driving seat.
The big game in Greece saw a Djbril Cisse brace earn Panathinaikos a 2-1 victory over table-toppers Olympiacos, a result that cut the gap between the two teams to a solitary point. And the gatecrashing of league leaders’ parties did not end there, since both Rangers in Scotland and Zilina in Slovakia had to settle for unexpected home draws with Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Dukla Banska Bystrica, allowing Celtic and Senica to close to within one and four points respectively.