>The winter break means there was not a whole heap of action in Europe this weekend, but we did get full rounds in Spain, England and Scotland.
Spanish La Liga
Barcelona remain top in Spain after defeating a defensive Levante 2-1, thanks to Pedro’s double. Real Madrid kept the pressure up with a 3-2 win at Getafe, with Cristiano Ronaldo grabbing a brace. Bad news for Real, though, is Gonzalo Higuain is out for the rest of the season with injury.
A depleted Villarreal side kept its grip on third spot secure after a 2-0 win over struggling Almeria, which condemned the defeated to the bottom three. Espanyol slipped to their third straight defeat, thanks to Juan Mata’s late winner as Valencia won 2-1 in an important clash for the top four. Meanwhile, Sevilla moved to tenth after snapping a four-game losing streak, with a 1-0 win over Osasuna.
Zaragoza jumped off the bottom of the table and into 18th after Braulio’s last-minute goal earned them a 2-1 win over Racing Santander. Malaga also moved away from the drop zone and up to 16th after a crucial 2-1 win at fellow strugglers Sporting Gijon.
English Premier League
Leaders Manchester United clinched a controversial 2-1 win over West Bromwich thanks to Javier Hernandez’s winner. More good news for the Red Devils was Wayne Rooney scoring from open play. Manchester City kept up the pressure with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Blackpool.
Meanwhile, Arsenal’s 3-0 triumph at Birmingham City kept them in the race, but the big story was Chelsea’s thrilling 3-3 draw with Aston Villa where the Blues fought back from 2-1 down in the final five minutes to lead, only to concede a late leveller to Ciaran Clark.
West Ham made it eight points from four matches over the festive period, with a critical 2-0 victory over Wolverhampton. The result moved the Hammers out of the drop zone and up to 16th for the first time this season. Fulham’s 1-0 loss at Spurs and Birmingham’s 3-0 home defeat to Arsenal has them struggling.
Random League: Scottish Premier League
Georgios Samaras’ double fired Celtic to a vital 2-0 Old Firm derby victory over Rangers in the weekend’s crucial clash. Celtic now open up a four-point gap at the top in Scotland, but Rangers do have two games in hand.
Hearts continue to keep the pressure on the traditional top two in Scotland, after a hard-fought 1-0 derby victory over Hibernian. Kevin Kyle grabbed an 86th-minute winner for Hearts.
Hamilton’s plight doesn’t look good after managing a goalless home draw with midtable Motherwell. Accies are five points adrift at the foot of the table, but do have games in hand. They need to start winning games, though. They’ve won two all season, the last back in October.