Leading pair Real Madrid and Barcelona both won to pull away at the top of La Liga at the weekend with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo again on target.
Manchester City and Juventus remained unbeaten, City beating Newcastle United 3-1 to chalk up their 11th win in 12 English Premiership matches and Juve beating Palermo 3-0 to go joint top of Serie A alongside Lazio.
Real Madrid and Barcelona pulled away at the top of La Liga when leaders Real edged third-placed Valencia 3-2 away in a thrilling but ill-tempered clash after Barca had thumped visiting Real Zaragoza 4-0 on Saturday.
Real’s victory at the Mestalla, courtesy of goals from Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo, maintained their three-point lead over great rivals Barcelona in second and lifted Jose Mourinho’s side to 31 points from 12 matches.
Spanish and European champions Barca widened their advantage over Valencia, the last club other than the big two to win the title, back in 2004, to four points.
La Liga top scorer Lionel Messi struck his 15th of the season at the Nou Camp, with captain Carlos Puyol scoring a rare goal and Gerard Pique and substitute David Villa netting against their former club.
Manchester City maintained their five-point lead at the top with a 3-1 victory at home to the previously unbeaten Newcastle United courtesy of penalties from Mario Balotelli and Sergio Aguero and a goal from Micah Richards.
Champions Manchester United kept up the pressure on their neighbours with Javier Hernandez scoring an early winner in a 1-0 win at promoted Swansea City as they recorded a fifth successive victory with a clean sheet.
Fourth-placed Chelsea slipped to a second successive home defeat when Glen Johnson’s 87th-minute winner gave Liverpool a 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Arsenal are all on 22 points although Spurs, who host Aston Villa on Monday, have two games in hand. Third-placed Newcastle have 25, four behind Manchester United. City lead with 34 points.
Juventus and Lazio, who meet next week, finished the weekend level on 22 points at the top of Serie A.
Juventus, unbeaten after 10 games, beat Palermo 3-0 with Simone Pepe, Alessandro Matri and Claudio Marchisio sharing the goals. Lazio, who have played one game more, held on for a goalless draw at Napoli.
AC Milan’s run of five successive wins ended in a 0-0 draw at Fiorentina although they were unlucky to have a Clarence Seedorf goal disallowed for offside.
The defending champions are one point behind the leading pair and are level with Udinese, who missed a chance to go clear at the top when they succumbed to a 2-0 defeat at Parma.
The weekend’s action was overshadowed by the attempted suicide of referee Babak Rafati hours before he was due to take charge of Saturday’s game between Cologne and Mainz 05, which was postponed.
Rafati was reported as out of danger and in a stable condition after the incident.
Teenager Mario Goetze’s goal gave Borussia Dortmund a 1-0 win at leaders Bayern Munich, moving the defending champions within two points of the Bavarians.
Borussia Moenchengladbach are level on 26 points with Dortmund after a 5-0 demolition of Werder Bremen, helped by a hat-trick from Marco Reus.
Paris St Germain suffered their first Ligue 1 defeat in over three months when they lost 1-0 at home to lowly Nancy on Sunday.
The result is likely to fuel speculation that Antoine Kombouare’s job is threatened although general manager Leonardo said the coach still had the club’s trust.
None of the teams involved in next week’s Champions League action won at the weekend, with fifth-placed Olympique Lyon suffering their first league home defeat in over a year when they lost 2-1 against Stade Rennes.
Olympique Marseille were beaten 1-0 by Montpellier, who remained second behind PSG on goal difference and third-placed Lille once again dominated but had to settle for a goalless draw at Toulouse.
Leaders AZ Alkmaar’s match against Excelsior Rotterdam was abandoned on Sunday at halftime due to fog. The score was 0-0 at the time after a stronger Alkmaar had seen two chances cleared off the line by Excelsior defenders.
Alkmaar stayed top with 31 points after 12 matches, three ahead of PSV Eindhoven who had Georginio Wijnaldum twice on target in a 3-1 victory at Graafschap Doetinchem.
Twente Enschede are third with 26 points following a 1-1 draw at neighbours Heracles Almelo and are five points above fourth-placed Ajax Amsterdam who let slip a two-goal lead in the last five minutes in a 2-2 draw with NAC Breda.
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