It’s not every weekend that Manchester United lose a second game on the trot, but arch-rivals Liverpool made that happen on Sunday, while it was typically business as usual elsewhere in Europe.>
English Premier League
After losing in midweek to Chelsea, Manchester United made it two defeats in a row, when they were thumped 3-1 by Liverpool on Sunday. The Red Devils have now lost three of their past five league matches and only hold a three-advantage point over second-placed Arsenal, who have a game in hand.
Arsenal though might have been closer after being held to a 0-0 draw by Sunderland, where the Gunners might have felt hard done by after Andrei Arshavin was twice denied by dubious referee decisions. Meanwhile, Manchester City beat Wigan 1-0 and Chelsea kept alive their faint title hopes with a 3-1 win at Blackpool.
|17||West Ham United||31|
Carling Cup winners Birmingham City slipped into the bottom three after a 3-1 derby loss to West Bromwich who move up to 16th. West Ham’s recent revival continued with a thumping 3-0 win over Stoke City, while Wolverhampton fought hard to claim a 3-3 draw with Tottenham.
> |Pos|Team|Pts| |—|—-|—| |1|Borussia Dortmund|61| |2|Bayer Leverkusen|49| |3|Hannover 96|47| |4|FSV Mainz|43| |5|Bayern Munich|42|
Dortmund moved another step closer to the Bundesliga title after a 1-0 victory over FC Koln on Friday night, with Robert Lewandowski getting the game’s only goal to keep his side 12 points clear with nine games to play. Leverkusen stayed in touch with a 3-0 win over struggling VfL Wolfsburg.
Thomas Schaaf’s Werder Bremen claimed a much-needed 3-1 away win at SC Freiburg, with Claudio Pizarro and Marko Marin scoring crucial second-half goals. VfB Stuttgart also boosted their survival hopes, moving out of the bottom two, with a 1-0 win over 10-man Schalke 04. Last-placed Moenchengladbach made it two wins in three, with a 2-0 victory over Hoffenheim.
Spanish La Liga
> |Pos|Team|Pts| |—|—-|—| |1|FC Barcelona|74| |2|Real Madrid|67| |3|Valencia|54| |4|Villarreal|50| |5|Athletic Bilbao|41|
Lionel Messi’s brilliance set up the only goal as FC Barcelona kept their push for the title on track with a 1-0 win over Real Zaragoza. Real Madrid got the job done without Cristiano Ronaldo as they brushed aside Racing Santander 3-1 with Karim Benzema grabbing a brace.
Spain international Pablo Hernandez scored twice to help Valencia defeat Mallorca 2-1 and firm for a top-three spot, particularly after Villarreal lost 3-1 at Atletico Madrid. The Yellow Submarine have now won just one of their past six matches and are in danger of slipping out of the Champions League spots.
Malaga’s woes worsened after conceding in injury-time to see Osasuna claim a crucial three points with a 1-0 win in a big relegation scrap. Two goals in the final 20 minutes helped Almeria win 2-1 at Hercules in their own drop zone battle.
Italian Serie A
> |Pos|Team|Pts| |—|—-|—| |1|AC Milan|61| |2|Internazionale|56| |3|Napoli|53| |4|Lazio|51| |5|Udinese|50|
AC Milan skipper Gennaro Gattuso scored the decisive goal as the leaders kept their five-point advantage intact with a 1-0 victory over rivals Juventus. Inter Milan produced five second-half goals, including two strikes from Samuel Eto’o to stay in touch with a 5-2 win over Genoa.
Napoli’s title charge hit another snag after being held to a 0-0 draw with lowly Brescia. Brescia keeper Michele Arcari was the hero for the visitors. Meanwhile, Lazio defeated Palermo 2-0 to keep their Champions League hopes on track, while sixth-placed AS Roma remain in the top four race after a last-gasp 2-1 win at Lecce.
Cesena moved out of the bottom three with a 3-2 win at struggling Sampdoria. The result saw Samp dismiss coach Domenico Di Carlo, replacing him with Alberto Cavasin. Brescia’s hard-fought goalless draw at Napoli helps their survival cause but there’s plenty of work still to be done.
Random League: Belgian Pro League
> |Pos|Team|Pts| |—|—-|—| |1|Genk|61| |2|Anderlecht|61| |3|Gent|54| |4|Club Brugge|49| |5|Lokeren|46|
Belgium’s top flight operates a little differently to most European leagues, with the top six after 30 rounds entering into a playoff to decide the champion. The weekend’s 1-1 draw between top two Genk and Anderlecht may not ultimately have a huge say on where the title goes but it was a great contest between two attacking sides with Roland Juhasz rescuing a point for the champions.
At this stage, Genk, Anderlecht and Gent are guaranteed spots in the playoffs, with two games of regular season football to play with Club Brugge and Lokeren likely to join them, while Mechelen and Standard Liege will battle for the sixth spot.