European Leagues review
The clubs leading the way in Europe’s most prestigious championships all held on at the top of their respective tables this weekend, though they managed the feat in vastly differing ways. Lille eked out a last-gasp win, Borussia Dortmund clinched a hard-fought victory, AC Milan and Barcelona both excelled, while Arsenal did not even have to get their boots muddy. FIFA.com now looks back at all the major events from the latest instalment of league action in the continent’s finest top flights.
Premier League: Chelsea miss their chance
With Manchester United and Arsenal not due to lock horns until tonight, Chelsea had an excellent chance to boost their shaken morale. Victory at Tottenham Hotspur would have sent Carlo Ancelotti’s men out in front – at least for a day – but they were made to settle for a 1-1 draw instead after Didier Drogba had a penalty saved in added time. The Blues now find themselves trailing Manchester City as well after Roberto Mancini’s troops moved level with leaders Arsenal courtesy of a 3-1 success at West Ham United.
Without a victory in five matches, Newcastle United finally returned to winning ways in Alan Pardew’s first outing as manager, his charges sweeping aside Liverpool 3-1. There was reason for celebration in the Bolton Wanderers ranks too as they downed Blackburn Rovers 2-1 to climb up to sixth.
Top three: Arsenal, Manchester City (both 32 points), Manchester United (31)
Bottom three: Wigan Athletic (16), Wolverhampton Wanderers (15), West Ham (12)
Top scorers: Dimitar Berbatov (11 goals), Carlos Tevez, Andrew Carroll (both 10)
Weekend stat: 6 – Chelsea have taken just six points from their last seven games, their worst run in ten years.
Ligue 1: Lille made to wait
On top of the pile before the weekend began, Lille strengthened their position thanks to a late winner at bottom side Arles-Avignon, Brazilian midfielder Tulio De Melo making the difference in the third minute of added time. His compatriot Nene was on target too, scoring twice as Paris Saint-Germain held on to second place by winning 2-1 at Valenciennes. As for Lyon, their 2-0 success against Toulouse hoisted them up to third, ahead of both Marseille and Rennes.
The Brittany outfit had their own hopes of rising thwarted by a goalless stalemate at Bordeaux which left them fourth, while champions Marseille played out a 1-1 draw at Auxerre and lie four points off the summit. The meeting between this season’s surprise outfit Brest and last year’s equivalents Montpellier ended 0-0.
Top three: Lille (31 points), PSG (30), Rennes (27)
Bottom three: Caen, Lens (both 15), Arles-Avignon (7)
Top scorers: Moussa Sow (13 goals), Nene (11), Youssef El-Arabi (10)
Weekend stat: 10 – PSG have settled into the sort of rhythm they have lacked for several years, racking up a tenth match without defeat to confirm themselves as candidates for the title.
La Liga: Barça and Real pull away
There seems to be no stopping Barcelona as they continue to hold sway at the top of the Liga standings. Real Sociedad became their latest victims on Sunday with Lionel Messi plundering a pair of goals in a commanding 5-0 triumph. That took Barça back above Real Madrid after their eternal rivals had kept the pressure on with a 3-1 win at Real Zaragoza. In third, meanwhile, Villarreal watched the leading duo disappear a little further over the horizon, having kicked off the weekend by losing 1-0 to Getafe on Saturday.
Victorious against Sporting Gijon last time out, Espanyol had a chance to leapfrog the Yellow Submarine but succumbed 2-1 to Athletic Bilbao. Sevilla, down in 11th, suffered the anguish of defeat as well as they were beaten 3-1 at home by struggling Almeria. Valencia face Osasuna on Monday with hopes of putting themselves back in the race for European places following a severe dip in form.
Top three: Barcelona (40 points), Real Madrid (38), Villarreal (30)
Bottom three: Malaga (13), Sporting Gijon (11), Real Zaragoza (9)
Top scorers: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi (both 17), Fernando Llorente (10)
Weekend stat: 3 – Almeria consigned Sevilla to a third consecutive home reverse and their fourth in four games.
Serie A: AC Milan surge ahead
AC Milan have broken clear of the pack in Italy and followed up their 3-0 win against Brescia by downing Bologna with goals from the same trio of players in the exact same order: Kevin-Prince Boateng, Robinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The showdown between would-be challengers Juventus and Lazio then swung in Juve’s favour as a late own goal from Biancocelesti goalkeeper Fernando Muslera sealed a 2-1 success that lifted the victors to second.
Napoli had a seventh effort of the campaign from Marek Hamsik to thank for their 1-0 win against Genoa, while Roma got themselves back on track by dispatching basement outfit Bari by the same scoreline. Sampdoria slipped to eighth as a result of a 1-0 loss to Brescia and fifth-placed Palermo gained momentum by sweeping aside Parma 3-1.
Top three: AC Milan (36 points), Juventus, Napoli, Lazio (all 30)
Bottom three: Lecce (15), Cesena,(12), Bari (10)
Top scorers: Antonio Di Natale (10 goals), Samuel Eto’o, Zlatan Ibrahimovic… (all 9)
Weekend stat: 10 – Top scorer in Serie A last season, Udinese striker Di Natale moved out in front in the 2010/11 standings by reaching double figures in the 2-1 win against Fiorentina.
Bundesliga: Dortmund on a roll
If Borussia Dortmund’s yellow shirts have brought to mind the yellow jersey worn by the Tour de France leader in recent weeks, it is because Jurgen Klopp’s side have led from the front with increasing panache. The pacesetters enjoy an 11-point cushion and notched up yet another success by besting Werder Bremen 2-0, with closest pursuers Bayer Leverkusen also triumphant as they prevailed 4-2 at Hamburg. A point behind Die Werkself, Hannover won 2-1 against Stuttgart to leave their opponents one spot off the foot of the table.
Mainz, in fourth, slipped to another setback when they were edged 1-0 by a Schalke team desperate to continue making up for lost time. It was Bayern Munich who fell to the Gelsenkirchen club last time out, and the Bavarian giants bounced back with a 3-0 victory against St. Pauli to strengthen their position in the upper reaches. At the bottom, Cologne gave themselves a significant boost by seeing off Eintracht Frankfurt 1-0.
Top three: Borussia Dortmund (43 points), Bayer Leverkusen (32), Hannover (31)
Bottom three: Cologne (15), Stuttgart (12), Borussia Monchengladbach (10)
Top scorers: Theofanis Gekas, Papiss Cisse (both 13), Edin Dzeko, Srdan Lakic… (all 9)
Weekend stat: 5 – The average number of months survived by Stuttgart coaches since 2008. Following the loss to Hannover, the club opted to replace Jens Keller with Bruno Labbadia.
In the Netherlands, new Ajax coach Frank de Boer oversaw a 1-0 win against Vitesse Arnhem. His side now lie three points shy of leaders PSV Eindhoven in fourth after their old rivals could only draw 0-0 with De Graafschap. Between the prestigious pair lie Twente, undone 6-2 by Heerenveen, and Groningen, who downed AZ Alkmaar 2-0.
The leadership battle has provided great entertainment in Greece this season, and that was true again this weekend as Panathinaikos fell from the summit following a goalless draw with Asteras Tripolis. That allowed Olympiacos to take over in pole position by consigning Atromitos to a 2-1 defeat.
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