It was a potentially decisive weekend in the La Liga title race with Barcelona wining and Real Madrid failing to follow suit. Barcelona beat Hércules 3-0 on Saturday to make it a record-equalling 15th straight league win and go seven points clear at the summit. That gap remained the same on Sunday after Real Madrid’s 1-0 defeat at fifth-bottom Osasuna on Sunday. Third-placed Villarreal are now just six points behind Madrid as Giuseppe Rossi scored the only goal on the stroke of half-time in their victory against Espanyol.
Lille continue to look convincing championship material after stretching their unbeaten Ligue 1 run to 11 matches with a 1-0 derby defeat of northern neighbours Lens. Lille now have a four-point gap over PSG who won 2-1 victors at Arles-Avignon. Lyon are another three points back after they fell 2-1 at Valenciennes.
Two of Serie A’s most in-form talents shone again as AC Milan stayed four points clear of Napoli following victories for both. The Rossoneri recorded a 2-0 win at Catania on Saturday and, once again, Zlatan Ibrahimović was prominent, provoking Robinho’s opener before notching his 13th effort in 20 league outings, after Mark van Bommel had been sent off on his Serie A debut. The following day, leading scorer Edinson Cavani scored a hat-trick in Napoli’s 4-0 thrashing of Sampdoria. Giampaolo Pazzini had a great debut for Inter Milan as his two goals helped the champions come from behind to beta Palermo 3-2.
Borussia Dortmund got back on the winning track as they beat Wolfsburg 3-0.. The win means that Dortmund are now 11 pints clear of Bayer Leverkusen, who beat Hannover 2-0. Bayern Munich are up to third, thanks to their 3-1 victory at Werder Bremen, and bottom side Borussia Mönchengladbach boosted their survival prospects by beating Eintracht Frankfurt 1-0 for their second win in three games.
The FA Cup returned to centre stage in England and it proved a frustrating weekend for the underdogs, with Manchester United recovering from falling behind at Southampton to win 2-1 and Birmingham City turning a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 victory at home against Championship side Coventry City. Arsenal had Cesc Fàbregas’s late penalty winner to thank for seeing off third-division Huddersfield Town, but Notts County held Manchester City 1-1 and Crawley Town ensured a non-league presence in the fifth round by winning 1-0 at Torquay United.