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European Weekend Review – Jan 23

Barcelona and AC Milan successfully protected their advantages this weekend while Manchester United extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to two points.

It is a case of as you were at the top of the Liga after Barcelona and Real Madrid both won. Josep Guardiola’s titleholders set the bar on Saturday by beating Racing Santander 3-0 to equal their club record of 14 successive league victories. Madrid refuse to be shaken off, though, and remain four points adrift in second after Karim Benzema ensured they edged Mallorca on Sunday.

Milan did not wilt under pressure from pursuers Napoli and Roma as they rounded off the weekend’s action with a 2-0 win against struggling Cesena. That result kept them four points clear of Napoli, who won 2-0 at bottom side Bari thanks in part to Edinson Cavani’s 14th goal of the season. Roma beat Cagliari 3-0 to leapfrog city rivals Lazio beaten 3-1 at Bologna. Inter Milan lost for the first time in six matches as they lost 3-1 at Udinese.

Manchester United continue to lead the Premier League following a 5-0 win against Birmingham City. Arsenal are two points behind, having played a game more, after a Robin van Persie hat-trick earned them a 3-0 success against Wigan Athletic. Dimitar Berbatov scored a treble of his own for the leaders. Manchester City have played teo more games than their city rivals and lie a further point off the pace after losing 1-0 at Aston Villa.

Dortmund remain out in front at the Bundesliga summit despite being held to a 1-1 draw against Stuttgart. Bayer Leverkusen, who moved into second place thanks to a 3-1 win at Borussia Mönchengladbach. Hannover 96 and FSV Mainz failed to pounce on Dortmund’s slip, losing 1-0 against Schalke and Wolfsburg respectively, and that allowed titleholders Bayern Munich to climb to fourth, three points behind Leverkusen. They beat Kaiserslautern 5-1 with the help of Mario Gomez’s fourth hat-trick this season.

Scottish Premier League titleholders Rangers dropped five points behind Celtic on Saturday when they lost 1-0 at Hearts. Ajax have no such luxury in the Eredivisie, meanwhile, after they slumped to a 3-0 reverse at Utrecht that left them six points adrift of leaders PSV Eindhoven in third.