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European Weekend Review – Jan 17

Big week in Europe as the Bundesliga returned the action, Barcelona extended its unbeaten run to a club-record 28 games, while in Italy the Serie A title race got tighter.

A four-point gap has opened up at the Liga summit after Real Madrid were held to a 1-1 draw by bottom club Almeria, while Barcelona beat Málaga 4-1. With the win, Barcelona set a new club record of 28 matches unbeaten in all competitions. Real Madrid are nine points clear of third-placed Villarreal, who beat Osasuna 4-2.

Dortmund remain the dominant force in the Bundesliga after winning 3-1 at Bayer Leverkusen to move 12 points clear at the top. Hannover 96 in second place after beating Eintracht 3-0 and FSV Mainz 05 lost 1-0 at Stuttgart. Leverkusen are level with Mainz on 33 points in fourth with Bayern Munich stuck in fifth place.

Milan missed the chance to move six points ahead of Napoli in Serie A after conceding an 82nd-minute Rubén Olivera leveller in a 1-1 draw at lowly Lecce. The leaders’ frustration echoed that of their nearest pursuers, who had to settle for a goalless stalemate with Fiorentina and have been joined on 37 points by Lazio following the latter’s 1-0 triumph against Sampdoria. Close behind, Roma won 1-0 at Cesena, Juventus beat Bari 2-1 and Leonardo’s Inter Milan swept aside Bologna 4-1. “He really has been fantastic,” said Inter president Massimo Moratti of the European champions’ new coach.

A point continues to separate the top four after the Ligue 1 resumed with a string of wins for the top clubs. Lille are top of the league after beating Nice 2-0. The win kept Lille a point clear and still boasting a game in hand on closest pursuers PSG, Rennes and Lyon, who celebrated victories against Sochaux, Arles-Avignon and Lorient respectively. In the lower reaches, Monaco slipped into the relegation zone.

Manchester United extended their unbeaten Premier League record to 26 matches thanks to a 0-0 draw at Tottenham Hotspur in which Ryan Giggs made his 600th top-flight appearance and Rafael (74) was dismissed for the visitors. United lead Manchester City on goal difference but have two games in hand. City, featuring debutant Edin Džeko, assumed top spot temporarily on Saturday by defeating Wolves 4-3. Two points behind United in third, and having played one game more, Arsenal beat struggling West Ham 3-0.

Porto remain eight points clear of Benfica atop the Portuguese Liga after Hulk’s 15th and 16th goals in 15 championship appearances helped them to a 3-1 win against bottom-of-the-table A. Naval 1° Maio. In Greece, Olympiakos’s advantage at the head of the standings remains five points following their 4-2 home victory against Panserraikos. Lastly, in Israel, Hapoel Tel-Aviv will host Hapoel Acre on Monday hoping to move top on goal difference after leaders Maccabi Haifa drew 2-2 with Hapoel Be’er Sheva.