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Nani of Manchester United celebrates after scoring his team's third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford on December 10, 2011 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images) (Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Nani of Manchester United celebrates after scoring his team's third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford on December 10, 2011 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images) (Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Soccer Roundup

Man-United closes the gap on idle City Add to ...

Manchester United rallied from their early exit in Europe to move within two points of idle Manchester City on Saturday. But the Citizens can regain their five point cushion with a win in Monday’s game. Elsewhere Barcelona rallied for a thrilling victory in Spain’s hignhly anticipated Clasico clash.

SPAIN

Barcelona beat Real Madrid 3-1 to end their arch-rivals’ 15-match winning streak in all competitions and replace them at the top of La Liga on goal difference.

Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema scored inside the first minute against Barcelona, but goals from Alexis Sanchez, Xavi and Cesc Fabregas continued Pep Guardiola’s remarkable record of eight wins from 12 ‘Clasicos’ since taking the helm at the Nou Camp.

Barca moved level with Real on 37 points but have played a game more. The champions flew out to Japan after the match to compete in the Club World Cup.

Valencia, beaten 2-1 at Real Betis, stayed third on 30 points.

ITALY

Modest Udinese moved to the summit of Italy’s Serie A after defeating Chievo Verona 2-1 and they are one point clear of unbeaten Juventus who play AS Roma on Monday.

Antonio Di Natale and Dusan Basta struck in the last quarter of the match to give Udinese the win

Udinese have 30 points from 14 games, one more than Juventus and two ahead of AC Milan and Lazio.

Milan were held 2-2 in a lively game at Bologna in which Marco Di Vaio gave the hosts an early lead, the champions replied through Clarence Seedorf and a Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty and Alessandro Diamanti made it 2-2.

Miroslav Klose scored twice, including an 87th-minute winner, in Lazio’s 3-2 win at bottom club Lecce, handing Serse Cosmi an unhappy debut as coach of the hosts.

ENGLAND

Champions Manchester United closed the gap on leaders Manchester City to two points with a 4-1 home victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers before their neighbours travel to Chelsea on Monday.

Striker Wayne Rooney scored twice, finding the net for the first time in nine league games, and Nani grabbed the other two for United who were seeking to ease the pain of their midweek Champions League exit.

Arsenal’s red-hot striker Robin van Persie struck the winner in a 1-0 home victory over Everton as they moved above fellow Londoners Chelsea into fourth place. Third-placed Tottenham Hotspur’s long unbeaten run ended with a 2-1 defeat at Stoke City.

GERMANY

Mario Gomez scored twice, taking his league tally this season to 15 goals, to give Bayern Munich a 2-1 win at VfB Stuttgart who had Cristian Molinaro sent off.

Christian Gentner gave Stuttgart a sixth-minute lead but Gomez levelled seven minutes later and grabbed the winner on the hour.

The Bavarians lead with 34 points from 16 games, three ahead of Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04.

Dortmund let slip a halftime lead in a 1-1 draw at home to lowly Kaiserslautern and their bitter rivals Schalke won 2-1 at Hertha Berlin.

FRANCE

Leaders Montpellier slipped up with a 1-0 loss at Valenciennes, allowing Paris St Germain to go level on points with a 1-0 win at Sochaux.

Third-placed Lille bounced back from Champions League disappointment with a 2-0 victory over Dijon thanks to goals either side of the break from duo Moussa Sow and Eden Hazard.

Olympique Lyon, who battered Dinamo Zagreb 7-1 in midweek to make the Champions League last 16, could only manage a 1-0 win at Lorient while Olympique Marseille were held 0-0 by Girondins Bordeaux as their European comeback against Borussia Dortmund was quickly forgotten.

PORTUGAL

Champions Porto and fierce rivals Benfica both won to remain joint leaders of the Portuguese Premier League on 30 points after 12 matches, with Porto ahead on goal difference.

Porto came back from behind to edge past Beira Mar 2-1 thanks to Brazil forward Hulk who set up James Rodriguez’s equaliser in the first half and notched the winner himself.

Oscar Cardozo, Benfica’s top scorer, grabbed a tap-in in the 85th minute to earn a tricky 1-0 victory over 10-man Maritimo in Madeira.

American international Oguchi Onyewu nodded the winner in Sporting’s hard-fought 1-0 win over Nacional at home in Lisbon. Sporting are third on 26 points.

NETHERLANDS

AZ Alkmaar cruised to a 4-0 home win over Graafschap Doetinchem to clinch the “winter” title with 38 points, four clear of PSV Eindhoven.

PSV and Twente Enschede registered home wins over NAC Breda and NEC Nijmegen to remain second and third in the standings.

Heerenveen striker Bas Dost scored five goals as his side thrashed lowly Excelsior Rotterdam 5-0.

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