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Weekend Review: Milan and Lille Get Big Wins

While Manchester United’s Premier League lead looks increasingly precarious after they lost at Liverpool, AC Milan and Lille both had big weeks at the top in Italy and France respectively.

Dirk Kuyt was the hero at Anfield on Sunday as Liverpool sent Manchester United to their third loss in five league games, the Dutch international notching a hat-trick in a 3-1 win for the hosts. “It’s been a tough season – it’s not finished yet – but this has been the highest point so far for our supporters,” said Reds manager Kenny Dalglish. The result kept United just three points clear at the top after Arsenal, who have a game in hand, were held to a scoreless draw at home to Sunderland. Third-placed Manchester City beat Wigan Athletic 1-0 and Chelsea, in fourth, visit Blackpool today.

Lille laid down a serious title marker in Ligue 1 with a last-gasp 2-1 win at champions Marseille that lifted them back to the top of the table ahead of Rennes on goal difference. Substitute Pierre-Alain Frau buried the winner in added time, six minutes after coming on, to keep OM four points back in fourth. “We came here to win and that’s what we did,” said Lille coach Rudi Garcia. Rennes continue to apply pressure, though, after they prevailed 1-0 at Montpellier, with Lyon now third thanks to Lisandro’s treble in a 5-0 win against bottom club Arles-Avignon.

City rivals Milan and Inter MIlan are still the sides setting the pace in Serie A. The Rossoneri briefly found themselves with the luxury of an eight-point gap whenGennaro Gattuso struck a rare goal to see off Juventus 1-0, but Inter refuse to lie down and moved back within five points following a 5-2 defeat of Genoa. “Inter are always improving, and we are starting to look to the future,” said Nerazzurri coach Leonardo. “We are in a decisive moment and we will not stop fighting.” Third-placed Napoli are three points further back after being held by Brescia Calcio.

Both Real Madrid and Barcelona had big wins this weekend. Barcelona briefly took a ten-point lead on Saturday when they squeezed past Real Zaragoza 1-0. “We were all looking for the second – we were never really relaxed,” conceded Barcelona assistant coach Tito Vilanova. Madrid responded in kind the following day, beating Real Racing Club 3-1 to move back to within seven points. Off the title pace and 13 points shy of Madrid, Valencia consolidated their grip on third by winning 2-1 at Mallorca.

The top three in the Bundesliga all recorded victories this weekend. Borussia Dortmund set the precedent on Friday night, defeating Köln 1-0 to go 15 points clear, before Bayer Leverkusen trimmed that gap by three when they triumphed 3-0 against VfL Wolfsburg. A further two points adrift are Hannover , 3-1 victors against fifth-placed Bayern Munich, who lost a third consecutive game in all competitions for the first time since October 2000. “The players, the coach and the board are all very disappointed,” commented Bayern coach Louis van Gaal.