It was a good weekend for league leaders in Europe as Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United all extended their leads at the top of their respective domestic leagues.
Seven points separate Barcelona and Real Madrid after Josep Guardiola’s titleholders won 3-0 at Mallorca and the Real Madrid were forced to settle for a goalless draw atDeportivo La Coruña. “We tried our best and created some good chances, but the ball just wouldn’t go in,” said Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas. José Mourinho’s charges are nevertheless ten points clear of Valencia, who won 2-1 against Athletic Bilbao. Villarreal CF lie a further four points adrift following their 2-2 draw at Racing Santander.
Inter Milan are just two points behind leaders AC Milan after beating Sampdoria 2-0. “Now we are two points from Milan and one above Napoli, so I don’t really care who wins tomorrow,” said Wesley Sneijder, talking about Monday’s big clash between leaders Milan and 3rd-place Napoli. Four points behind Napoli in fourth, Lazio suffered a 1-0 defeat at Cagliari, while Alexis Sánchez scored four as Udinese won 7-0 against nine-man Palermo.
Lille lead at the top of Ligue 1 is down to only goal difference alone after their 1-1 draw at home against Lyon. The pressure is undoubtedly on at the top, with second-placed Rennes having briefly usurped Lille’s position following their 2-0 defeat of Lens on Saturday. “I have to congratulate the players because going for first spot can freeze you sometimes,” said Rennes coach Frédéric Antonetti. One point behind, third-placed Marseille look determined to defend their crown after they prevailed 2-1 at Nancy-Lorraine. That was also the score as Paris Saint-Germain FC – two points off the summit – beat Toulouse.
Dortmund ended Bayern Munich’s faint title hopes by beating the defending champions 3-1 in Munich. Bayern are now 16 points behind Dortmund in the table. “There was a lot of passion on both sides from the start and it made for a super contest,” said Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp. In second, 12 points behind the leaders, are Bayer Leverkusen, who let slip a two-goal lead in the final eight minutes of their 2-2 draw at Werder Bremen. Hannover are up to third, meanwhile, after Christian Schulz’s 89th-minute strike earned them a 1-0 victory at St Pauli.
Manchester United extended their lead atop the Premier League standings thanks to a 4-0 defeat of Wigan Athletic that took them four points clear. “We could have scored more, but I’m happy with 4-0,” said United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Second-placed Arsenal were on League Cup duty, losing 2-1 to Birmingham City in the Wembley showpiece, while third-placed Manchester City now trail their city rivals by ten points after being held 1-1 by Fulham. Bottom and second-bottom before the weekend, Wolver and West Ham United beat Blackpool and Liverpool respectively.
Ajax missed the chance to reduce their five-point gap to PSV Eindhoven as they could only play out a 0-0 draw at the home of the Eredivisie leaders.