There were changes at the top in both Spain and England as FC Barcelona returned to the Liga summit and Chelsea FC made the most of a punishing loss for Arsenal FC at Liverpool FC. The big showdown in France ended in a 1-1 draw between AS Monaco FC and Paris Saint-Germain, while FC Bayern München and Juventus preserved their respective advantages. UEFA.com recaps the action.
The situation could not be tighter at the top of the Liga, with Barcelona, Real Madrid CF and Club Atlético de Madrid all locked together on 57 points. The big losers of the weekend were Atlético, who surrendered their three-point lead due to a 2-0 loss at UD Almería. “Football has these things: sometimes you win, some games are tied and some you lose,” said Rojiblancos coach Diego Simeone. “We do not seek excuses.” Madrid wiped out the gap with a 4-2 win against Villarreal CF, despite the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo, and FC Barcelona also leapt on the opportunity, getting back to winning ways with a 4-1 win at Sevilla FC to move back into pole position and leave the title race fascinatingly poised.
Eden Hazard hit a sublime hat-trick as Chelsea overpowered Newcastle United FC 3-0 at Stamford Bridge and pulled a point clear at the Premier League summit. “Hazard’s performance was similar to other ones, the only difference being that today he grabbed goals. He has consistency and ambition,” said manager José Mourinho. Meanwhile, previous leaders Arsenal were dismantled 5-1 by Liverpool, who struck four times inside the opening 20 minutes, before third-placed Manchester City FC drew 0-0 at Norwich City FC. On Sunday, a last-gasp equaliser earned Fulham FC a 2-2 draw at Manchester United FC.
The spoils were shared between the top two in Ligue 1 as Monaco prevented leaders Paris forging eight points clear by holding them to a 1-1 draw after Laurent Blanc’s men had taken an early lead. “A draw in Monaco is not a bad result,” said Blanc, whose side remain five points clear. “Monaco are a competitor. They have ambition.” Beneath the top two, LOSC Lille finally recorded their first league win of 2014, overcoming second-bottom FC Sochaux-Montbéliard 2-0 to move three points ahead of fourth-placed AS Saint-Étienne, who drew 0-0 at Toulouse FC. In fifth, Olympique de Marseille swept aside SC Bastia 3-0.
Juventus missed the chance to move 11 points clear at the top of the Serie A standings after conceding a last-gasp equaliser in a 2-2 draw at Hellas Verona FC, Juanito pegging them back in added time. “We’ve had a few lapses on set pieces recently,” commented Juve coach Antonio Conte. “Maybe this setback will help us – the team needs a serving of humble pie. The league isn’t won yet.” His charges nonetheless remain nine points ahead of AS Roma after the second-placed side drew 0-0 at capital rivals SS Lazio, with SSC Napoli another three points back following their 3-1 defeat of AC Milan. In fourth, ACF Fiorentina saw off Atalanta BC 2-0.
Philipp Lahm ended a three-year goal drought as Bayern maintained their 13-point cushion at the head of the Bundesliga by edging 1. FC Nürnberg 2-0. “We didn’t start well, but the pitch hardly invited us to build from the back. We reacted at half-time and we were much improved after the break,” the Germany full-back explained. As for Bayer 04 Leverkusen, they tightened their grip on second spot with a 1-0 defeat of VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach, while Borussia Dortmund flexed their muscles by dispatching SV Werder Bremen 5-1.
FC Porto took advantage of the postponement of SL Benfica’s match with Sporting Clube de Portugal to move within a point of the Eagles at the Portuguese summit by beating FC Paços de Ferreira 3-0. In Switzerland, meanwhile, FC Basel 1893 struck a potentially decisive blow by seeing off second-placed BSC Young Boys 3-2 to go five points clear. SK Rapid Wien prevailed 3-1 against FK Austria Wien in the Vienna derby, but it is FC Salzburg blazing the trail in Austria, 17 points out in front after a 6-0 dismantling of SV Grödig in second. In Turkey, finally, leaders Fenerbahçe SK lost 2-0 to Sivasspor, allowing Galatasaray AŞ to cut the gap to four points.
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