By IAN HOLLIDAY
Three of the world's top clubs were held to draws this weekend against lesser opposition, and each of them surrendered ground in their respective title races because of it.
The most shocking of the three results was Real Madrid's 1-1 draw at Almeria. The draw was only the club's third of the season, and it leaves the club two points further adrift of league leaders Barcelona, which produced another blowout win on Sunday, this time 4-1 over Malaga.
In England, Manchester United held on for a scoreless draw against Tottenham Hotspur despite being reduced to 10 men when Brazilian defender Rafael was sent off in the 74th minute. The draw kept the Red Devils' unbeaten season alive.
Italian leaders AC Milan also dropped points this weekend by drawing 1-1 at relegation-threatened Lecce. The result could have been worse for Milan in the standings if second-place Napoli had defeated Fiorentina at home.
This weekend also marked the return of the German and French leagues from their respective winter breaks. In France, Lille kept its place at the top of the table with a 2-0 win over Nice, while PSG kept pace with the leaders by defeating Sochaux 2-1.
Here is a rundown of all the weekend scores from Europe's top leagues (including full highlights from the English Premier League as well as highlights from Lecce/AC Milan and Marseille/Bordeaux):
Man United's match at Tottenham was the Premier League's marquee fixture of the weekend, but it was the club's derby rivals Man City that produced the most entertaining result. City got two goals from Carlos Tevez en route to building a 4-1 lead over Wolves before holding on for a 4-3 win. The victory puts the Citizens level on points with United at the top of the English table, but the Red Devils have a better goal differential and games in hand.
Birmingham City 1, Aston Villa 1
Sunderland 1, Newcastle United 1
Liverpool 2, Everton 2
Tottenham 0, Manchester United 0
Chelsea 2, Blackburn 0
Manchester City 4, Wolverhampton Wanderers 3
Stoke City 2, Bolton 0
West Bromwich Albion 3, Blackpool 2
Wigan Athletic 1, Fulham 1
West Ham United 0, Arsenal 3
PREMIER LEAGUE ROUND-UP
Real Madrid's stumble against Almeria notwithstanding, La Liga's top two clubs have made a habit of scoring goals in bunches this season. Both Barca and Real regularly eclipse the four goal mark, while rarely surrendering more than a goal in a game. Third-place Villarreal hasn't quite figured out the defensive part of that equation, but the Yellow Submarine has been scoring goals at a rather prolific pace this season. The club dropped four on Osasuna this weekend after managing a rare two against Madrid last week in a losing effort and four in a Copa Del Rey match before that.
Valencia 2, Deportivo La Coruna 0
Almeria 1, Real Madrid 1
Barcelona 4, Malaga 1
Getafe 0, Real Sociedad 4
Real Zaragoza 1, Levante 0
Sporting Gijon 2, Hercules 0
Villarreal 4, Osasuna 2
Athletic Bilbao 2, Racing Santander 1
Sevilla 1, Espanyol 2
Monday: Atletico Madrid v. Mallorca
Draws from AC Milan and Napoli allowed Lazio to reinsert itself into the title chase this weekend. While Serie A's top two clubs faltered, the Roman club earned a 1-0 home victory over Sampdoria to pull even with Napoli on points with 37. Neither club is quite within striking distance of Milan's 41, however, and it'll take more consistent play for either club to catch the Rossoneri.
Cagliari 3, Palermo 1
Brescia 2, Parma 0
Catania 1, Chievo 1
Cesena 0, AS Roma 1
Genoa 2, Udinese 4
Juventus 2, Bari 1
Lazio 1, Sampdoria 0
Lecce 1, AC Milan 1
Napoli 0, Fiorentina 0
Inter Milan 4, Bologna 1
LECCE/AC MILAN HIGHLIGHTS
Mainz began the 2011 portion of the 2010-11 Bundesliga season in much the same way it ended the 2010 portion: slipping. The former leaders fell 1-0 at Stuttgart on Saturday, losing even more ground to leaders Borussia Dortmund (which defeated Bayer Leverkusen 3-1 on Friday), and falling to third place in the Bundesliga standings. Ahead of Mainz is Steve Cherundolo's Hannover 96, which defeated Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0 on Sunday. Of course, no one is likely to catch Dortmund without an epic collapse from the leaders.
Eintracht Frankfurt 0, Hannover 96 3
Kaiserslautern 1, FC Cologne 1
Nurnberg 0, Borussia Moenchengladbach 1
St. Pauli 2, SC Freiburg 2
VfB Stuttgart 1, Mainz 0
VfL Wolfsburg 1, Bayern Munich 1
Werder Bremen 2, Hoffenheim 1
Schalke 04 0, Hamburg 1
Bayer Leverkusen 1, Borussia Dortmund 3
The top of the French table remains congested, but things could start to define themselves more clearly this week if Lille wins its midweek match against Nancy. The leaders have a game in hand over second-place PSG, and could open up a four-point lead in Ligue 1 with a victory. Then again, this French season has been extremely difficult to handicap. Marseille had a similar opportunity to consolidate a lead earlier in the season and currently sit in fifth.
Marseille 2, Bordeaux 1
AJ Auxerre 1, AS Monaco 1
Brest 1, Caen 3
Lens 2, St. Etienne 1
Lyon 3, Lorient 0
Montpellier 2, Valenciennes 1
Nice 0, Lille 2
Paris St. Germain 2, Sochaux 1
Stade Rennes 4, Arles 0
Toulouse 1, AS Nancy Lorraine 0
What did you think of this week's results? Surprised by the draws from Man United, Real Madrid, and Milan? Impressed with Hannover or Lazio for hanging around? Glad to see a full slate of games again?