Real Madrid and Juventus both won to pull clear of their rivals at the top of La Liga and Serie A at the weekend.
Real, taking advantage of their game in hand over arch-rivals Barcelona, thrashed Sevilla 6-2 to open up a three-point lead in Spain. Juventus were less spectacular, beating Novara 2-0 to move two points clear of AC Milan and Udinese.
Real Madrid made full use of their game in hand to restore their three-point lead over great rivals Barcelona at the top of the standings when Cristiano Ronaldo netted his fifth La Liga hat-trick of the campaign in a 6-2 drubbing of Sevilla.
Jose Mourinho’s side have 40 points from 16 matches as the teams head into the Christmas break, with Spanish and European champions Barca, who won their second Club World Cup by crushing Brazil’s Santos 4-0 in Japan on Sunday, on 37.
Valencia are four points behind Barca in third after in-form striker Roberto Soldado, who is making a strong case for a recall to the Spain squad for next year’s European Championship, scored twice in a 2-0 win at home to Malaga.
Atletico Madrid’s latest defeat, a 2-0 reverse at home to Real Betis that left the Spanish capital’s second club mired in 10th, heaped more pressure on coach Gregorio Manzano, who has been the target of frustrated chanting from the home fans at the Calderon.
Juventus, still unbeaten after 15 games, beat lowly Novara 2-0 with goals from Simone Pepe and Fabio Quagliarella to go two points clear at the top of Serie A with 33 points.
Udinese, who began the weekend level on points at the top with Juve, were held to a 2-2 draw at fourth-placed Lazio, Giampiero Pinzi’s 74th minute goal saving them from a defeat and leaving them with 31 points.
Titleholders AC Milan are also on 31 points after Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with a penalty, was again on target in a 2-0 win at home to Siena, the Swede’s tenth goal of the season.
Inter Milan, 15th only 10 days ago, went fifth with a 1-0 win at Cesena, their fifth win in their last six league outings.
Bayern Munich beat Cologne 3-0, scoring all their goals after being reduced to ten men, to reach the Bundesliga’s halfway mark with a three-point lead at the top.
Frenchman Franck Ribery was sent off in the first half but Bundesliga top scorer Mario Gomez, with his 16th league goal of the season, David Alaba and Toni Kroos scored in the second half for the Bavarians who have 37 points from 17 games.
Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 stayed three points behind after also enjoying high-scoring wins.
Dortmund’s top scorer, Robert Lewandowski, struck twice to take his tally to 12 this season in a 4-1 win over bottom club Freiburg. Spaniard Raul hit a hat-trick in Schalke’s 5-0 demolition of Werder Bremen.
Manchester City stayed two points clear at the top of the Premier League after an entertaining 1-0 win over Arsenal on Sunday.
David Silva’s 53rd-minute tap-in sealed victory for City who lost to Chelsea last week and were briefly knocked off the summit after Manchester United’s convincing 2-0 win at Queens Park Rangers.
England striker Wayne Rooney headed the champions’ opening goal in the first minute and his England team mate Michael Carrick doubled their lead in the second half with a rare goal.
Tottenham Hotspur beat Sunderland 1-0 to climb back to third, five points behind United and two ahead of Chelsea who conceded a late goal to draw 1-1 at Wigan Athletic on Saturday.
Montpellier retained the lead in Ligue 1 with a 1-1 draw at home against Toulouse after Paris St Germain were also held, 0-0 by champions Lille.
Montpellier have 37 points from 18 games and lead PSG on goal difference with Lille in third place two points behind.
Olympique Lyon, thanks to a goal by Argentine striker Lisandro Lopez, beat Evian Thonon Gaillard and also have 35 points, trailing Lille on goal difference.
Olympique Marseille, eighth on 28 points, kept their title challenge on track when Mathieu Valbuena scored a late goal and set up Benoit Cheyrou for a stoppage-time winner in a 2-1 home win against Lorient.
Swede Ola Toivonen struck twice to inspire PSV Eindhoven to a 5-1 win at Heerenveen, moving them one point behind leaders AZ Alkmaar who lost 2-1 at NAC Breda.
Milano Koenders, on loan from Alkmaar, scored Breda’s winner late in the game.
Teenager John Guidetti hit a first half hat-trick in Feyenoord’s 3-2 win over third-placed Twente Enschede while Ajax Amsterdam, in fourth, cruised to 4-0 home win over 10-men ADO Den Haag.
Porto and Benfica won to stay level at the top of the Portuguese Premier league on 33 points after 13 matches, Porto edging ahead on goal difference.
The champions earned a hard-fought 2-0 home win over 10-man Maritimo with substitute Cristian Rodriguez breaking the deadlock in the 80th minute before a Maritimo own goal.
Spanish forward Nolito grabbed a brace to help Benfica thrash Rio Ave 5-1 at the Luz stadium inspired by silky playmaker Pablo Aimar.
Third-placed Sporting were held to a 1-1 draw at Academica and slipped six points adrift of the leaders.
Olympiakos Pireaus lead the Super League by four points after a 2-0 home victory over PAS Yiannina on Sunday.
Ernesto Valverde’s team picked up their 10th win of the season thanks to first-half goals from Spanish midfielder David Fuster and Algeria striker Rafik Djebbour.
Panathinaikos, who have played two games less, beat Asteras Tripolis 3-1 to go second, ahead of AEK Athens who lost 1-0 at Atromitos Athinon.