The five-point European review
It was another weekend full of incident and action in Europe's leading leagues. With the exception of Paris Saint-Germain, the leaders all retained or extended their positions, while the likes of Bayern Munich and Chelsea earned some breathing space after recent torrid spells. FIFA.com rounds up the latest events in Europe’s major leagues.
AC Milan 1-1 Juventus, Matchday 25 in Serie A
Saturday evening’s big match in Italy between champions and leaders AC Milan and second-placed Juventus ended in a 1-1 draw. The 79,000 at the San Siro saw Antonio Nocerino hand the home side a 15th-minute lead before Alessandor Matri rescued a point for the Turin side seven minutes from time.
Juventus will likely take more heart from the result, as the Old Dame of Italian football lie just a single point behind I Rossoneri with a game in hand. The nation's most successful club have also now gone 24 league matches without defeat, chalking up 13 wins and 11 draws in that time.
After a run of five wins and a draw from their last six matches, Montpellier have reclaimed the lead in Ligue 1. John Utaka scored the only goal of the game after 80 minutes of the weekend meeting with Bordeaux, restoring Montpellier to the top of the pile for the first time since Matchday 18.
The only team well and truly running away with their domestic league this season is Real Madrid. In the 24th round of matches in Spain, Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 29th goal of the season with a cheeky back-heel to secure the men from the capital an unexpectedly tight 1-0 victory away to promoted Rayo Vallecano. Barcelona are ten points adrift of Jose Mourinho's team after a 2-1 win on their travels to Atletico Madrid.
The title of Mr Consistency in France goes to Bafetimbi Gomis. The Olympique Lyon hitman moved on to ten goals this term with his latest strike in the highest-scoring match of the weekend, a thrilling 4-4 home draw with Paris St Germain. Gomis has now scored at least ten goals in each of the last six seasons.
Levante’s Ruben Suarez fired a last-minute winner in a 2-1 victory over Espanyol, sealing his side’s first victory after a run of eight games without a win. Despite the fact that Levante last collected all three points in a 1-0 success against Sevilla back in mid-December, the surprise package of the La Liga season still lie fourth.
After a draw in their last Bundesliga outing and a midweek defeat in the UEFA Champions League, Bayern Munich returned to winning ways in the big match of the German football weekend. Franck Ribery scored either side of the break to see off title contenders Schalke, the Frenchman's third brace of term sending the men from Munich back up to second. Champions Dortmund continue to set the pace and now hold a four-point lead.
2,113 - Six years, or 2,113 days to be absolutely precise, since winning the FA Cup, Liverpool finally returned to trophy-winning ways. The Reds prevailed 3-2 on penalties against second-tier Welsh outfit Cardiff City after the English League Cup final had ended 2-2 after extra time. Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard saw his spot kick saved, but the decisive miss in the shootout came from his cousin, Cardiff defender Anthony.
900 - Wales veteran Ryan Giggs of Manchester United had two reasons to celebrate on Sunday, earning his side three points and passing an astonishing milestone in the process. He put away his team’s stoppage-time winner in a hard-earned 2-1 success against promoted Norwich City, but even more momentously, it was the 38-year-old’s 900th appearance for United.
150 - England international Frank Lampard of Chelsea scored his 150th Premier League goal in the Blues’ 3-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers, ending a run of five games without a win for the West London side.
17 - German champions Borussia Dortmund extended their unbeaten run in the Bundesliga to 17 matches. A 3-1 home success against Hannover was also a club record seventh win on the bounce.
Five memorable moments
Unhappy return: Otto Rehhagel returned to a Bundesliga dugout after a 12-year absence, but Augsburg spoiled the party with a 3-0 win over the veteran’s new charges, fellow top-flight newcomers Hertha Berlin. The men from the capital have lost all their matches since the turn of the year and have slipped to 16th, the Bundesliga’s relegation play-off spot and Hertha’s worst placing of the season.
Happy return: In stark contrast to Rehhagel, Pablo Correa kicked off a new job with a win. The boss of promoted Ligue 1 outfit Evian saw his new side beat Nancy 2-0, their first victory after five winless games. One of the new supremo’s decisions paid off in spades: Kevin Berigaud, making his first French top-flight start, scored a match-winning brace.
Second thoughts and a U-turn: During the week, it looked as though Lazio would be forced to search for a new coach, as Edy Reja handed in his resignation, citing a perceived loss of faith by the club president. However, after face-to-face talks between the men, the 66-year-old withdrew his request at the weekend. “The adventure continues," he declared.
Title within Gala’s grasp: In Turkey, Galatasaray defeated Istanbul rivals Besiktas 3-2 and now lead the standings by nine points with six games to play. Gala's cause was aided by second-place Fenerbahce’s 2-1 defeat to Eskisehirspor.
Gunners’ historic victory: Arsenal were two goals down to bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur but went on to record a 5-2 triumph, the biggest margin of victory in the North London derby since 1978, and only the third time either of the teams has scored five in the fixture. Emmanuel Adebayor also became the second player to score for both teams in the derby, a feat previously only achieved by Jimmy Robertson in the 1960s.