Leaders lose their way
No doubt flagging after their midweek European excursions, the leaders of Europe's most prestigious championships found life tough upon their return to domestic duty. Only Ligue 1 pacesetters Lyon managed to pull rank as they saw off Metz, while elsewhere on the continent Arsenal, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan all had to settle for draws.
The biggest shock of all came in the Spanish capital, where Real Madrid let Barcelona close to within two points at the top. Seemingly destined to claim the title a few weeks ago, Real stumbled again as they were beaten by neighbours Getafe at the Santiago Bernabeu, soon after Barça had won comfortably. Once again, FIFA.com reviews the best of the weekend's action from across Europe.
Ligue 1: Lyon still in charge
Curiously below par in recent weeks, Lyon boosted their confidence against Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League and they built on that performance to overcome Ligue 1's basement side on Saturday. Brazilian striker Fred hit two unanswered goals as the champions beat Metz 2-0 to move three points clear of Bordeaux, who drew 0-0 with Lille on Sunday.
In third, Nancy have struggled over the last two months, but they made life easier for themselves by beating Lens 2-1 and were helped out by Auxerre's win away to Nice by the same scoreline. Marseille could only draw in Toulouse, meanwhile, which allowed Le Mans to climb into fourth courtesy of a 2-1 reverse of Valenciennes.
Top three: Lyon (52 points), Bordeaux (49), Nancy
Bottom three: Toulouse (28 points), Sochaux (27), Metz (12)
Top scorers: Karim Benzema (16 goals), Mamadou Niang (12), David Bellion, Tulio De Melo (11)
Weekend stat: Caen are yet to register a victory in 2008, having scored just seven goals and conceded 18 in eight matches in all competitions.
Premier League: United close the gap
Arsenal will want to forget Saturday's trip to Birmingham City in a hurry. After losing striker Eduardo to a broken leg soon after kick-off, the Gunners failed to make their numerical superiority pay and were forced to accept a share of the spoils. Arsene Wenger's men even trailed at one point when James McFadden struck home a free-kick, and despite surging into the lead through Theo Walcott's brace they were pegged back in injury time when the Scotland ace completed a double of his own from the spot.
That nightmare start to the weekend was compounded by Manchester United's festival of attacking football away to Newcastle United later in the evening. Two goals apiece from Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo helped the visitors to a 5-1 success and cut the gap at the top of the table to three points. Elsewhere, Liverpool's hopes of finishing fourth were kept on track by a Fernando Torres hat-trick in the 3-2 triumph over Middlesbrough. Aston Villa joined them on 47 points by defeating Reading, though, and Everton will go fourth with either a win or a draw in Monday's match with Manchester City.
Top three: Arsenal (64 points), Manchester United
(61), Chelsea (55)
Bottom three: Reading (22 points), Fulham (19), Derby County (9)
Top scorers: Cristiano Ronaldo (21 goals), Emmanuel Adebayor (19), Fernando Torres (15)
Weekend stat: Newcastle have conceded an astonishing 11 goals in two games against Manchester United in the last month - five of which were scored by Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo.
La Liga: Getafe relaunch title race
The buzz has returned to proceedings at the top of La Liga thanks to unfancied Getafe's stunning win away to their illustrious neighbours Real Madrid. Previously unbeaten at home this season, Los Merengues lost their record and the match to a moment of quick thinking from the visitors, who must have feared the worst when Arjen Robben had the ball in the net on 64 minutes. His effort was ruled out for offside, however, and as Real's players complained Getafe broke down the other end for Nigerian Ikechukwu Uche to score the only goal. That allowed Barcelona to close to within two points at the summit, with the Catalans having previously overcome Levante 5-1. Xavi and Lionel Messi hit the target before the break and Samuel Eto'o grabbed a second-half hat-trick for Frank Rijkaard's side.
In the race for third, Villarreal enjoyed the weekend's action the most after coming back to beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1. The Yellow Submarines' closest pursuers Atletico Madrid and Espanyol both tasted defeat, on the other hand, to Osasuna and Deportivo respectively, which allowed Sevilla to jump ahead of Espanyol into fifth following their convincing 5-0 victory over Zaragoza.
Top three: Real Madrid (56 points), Barcelona
(54), Villarreal (46)
Bottom three: Deportivo (27 points), Murcia (23), Levante (16)
Top scorers: Luis Fabiano (19 goals), Diego Milito (14), Ruud van Nistelrooy, Joseba Llorente (12)
Weekend stat: Real Madrid had won 18 consecutive league games on their own turf before this weekend's setback. Coincidentally, the last team to leave the Santiago Bernabeu with points was also Getafe, who achieved a 1-1 draw there on 4 March 2007.
Bundesliga: Boots for Bayern and Bayer
With Bayern facing Hamburg on Sunday, Werder Bremen had a chance to draw level with the leaders when they travelled to take on Eintracht Frankfurt a day earlier. Despite that incentive, Thomas Schaaf's men had Brazilian playmaker Diego sent off on their way to a 1-0 defeat. That meant Bayern were assured of remaining top for another week at least, and Ottmar Hitzfeld's side went on to extend their cushion by another point by salvaging a draw with bogey team Hamburg. HSV probably thought they had done enough to secure a third consecutive win at the Allianz Arena when Ivica Olic buried the ball past Oliver Kahn, but Brazilian Ze Roberto levelled the scores merely six minutes later.
The other team to really profit from the weekend's events were Bayer Leverkusen, who ran out 1-0 winners over Schalke 04 thanks to a Manuel Friedrich strike. That moved them into third spot at Hamburg's expense. At the opposite end of the table, Duisburg climbed out of 20th place with a 2-0 triumph at Bielefeld.
Top three: Bayern Munich (44 points), Werder
Bremen (40), Bayer Leverkusen (38)
Bottom three: Nuremberg, Duisburg, Energie Cottbus (17 points)
Top scorers: Luca Toni (13 goals), Mario Gomez, Mladen Petric (11)
Weekend stat: Bayern's stalemate with Hamburg took their unbeaten run to eight games, but they have also gone three matches without a win at home.
Serie A: Roma consolidate
Out of reach at the top of Serie A, Inter Milan had to work hard to bring a point back from Genoa, where two players with something to prove got their names on the scoresheet. Antonio Cassano confirmed his return to form by breaking the deadlock for Sampdoria before Hernan Crespo showed that he remains one of the best headers of the ball on the planet, despite struggling to get a game.
A week after their reverse in Turin, second-placed Roma put rivals Juventus back at arm's length by beating Fiorentina. Cicinho grabbed the only goal of the game for the capital outfit, while a Juve line-up lacking Gianluigi Buffon, Jonathan Zebina, Vincenzo Iaquinta and David Trezeguet suffered a surprising defeat at relegation-threatened Reggina. Former Juventus player Nicola Amoruso fired in the winner from the penalty spot to seal a 2-1 result. Lastly, AC Milan finally moved up into fourth spot following their triumph over Palermo. Scorer of a stoppage-time decider, Filippo Inzaghi was the man the Rossoneri had to thank yet again as they replaced Fiorentina in the last of the UEFA Champions League berths.
Top three: Inter Milan (60 points), Roma (51),
Bottom three: Parma (22 points), Reggina (21), Cagliari (18)
Top scorers: Marco Boriello, David Trezeguet (15 goals), Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Adrian Mutu (11)
Weekend stat: Francesco Totti disputed his 386th Serie A match for Roma, equalling the record set by former Giallorosso defender Giacomino Losi, who represented the club between 1954 and 1968.