BY NICK IUELE
With the exception Germany’s Bundesliga, all the top leagues in Europe were back in action this weekend. The fixture lineup did not disappoint, pitting English giants against each other while providing a couple top teams in Italy with a wake up call.
Sunday in the English Premier League featured Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Liverpool and Manchester City’s 2-0 victory over 10-men Arsenal. Robin van Persie and Nemanja Vidic scored the goals to sink Liverpool, while the Gunners were sunk by a Laurent Koscielny red card in the ninth minute and a goal apiece from James Milner and Edin Dzeko in the first half. Second-place City trails United by seven points.
Italian champions Juventus continued their rocky start to the second of the season after being held to a 1-1 draw with Parma. A 52nd-minute own goal by Parma’s Jonathan Ludovic Biabiany gave Juve the lead, but Nicola Sansone scored a late goal and Parma held on to earn a point. The Old Lady has failed to earn all three points in both matches since the end of the break.
Real Madrid took a huge blow to their title chances by being held to a scoreless draw by last-place Osasuna. Real was out-shot by Osasuna 13-9 and Jose Mourinho’s side only managed one shot on goal. Madrid is now an almost certainly insurmountable 15 points behind Barcelona for the top spot.
Here’s a look at the rest of the action in Europe’s top leagues:
West Ham United continued to slip down the table with a 3-0 loss at the hands of Sunderland. Sebastian Larsson opened the scoring with a goal in the 12th minute, followed by two second-half goals by Adam Johnson and James McClean, respectively. The Hammers are now in 11th position, while Sunderland is in 14th with eyes on the middle of the table.
Chelsea remained in third place with a comprehensive 4-0 win over draw-happy Stoke City. A 65th minute converted penalty by Frank Lampard and a goal by Eden Hazard in the 73rd sealed all three points after two own goals by Stoke’s Jonathan Walters. The Blues are 14 points out of first.
English Premier League scoreboard:
Manchester United 2, Liverpool 1
Manchester City 2, Arsenal 0
Queens Park Rangers 0, Tottenham Hotspur 0
Southampton 1, Aston Villa 0
Everton 0, Swansea City 0
Fulham 1, Wigan Athletic 1
Norwich City 0, Newcastle 0
Reading 3, West Bromwich Albion 2
Chelsea 4, Stoke City 0
Sunderland 3, West Ham United 0
Inter Milan moved closer to the top three with a 2-0 win over Pescara. Rodrigo Palacio opened the scoring in the 30th minute, and Fredy Guarin sealed the win with a strike in the 54th. Inter is only two points out of Champions League qualification and seven points out of first.
Roma hit a snag in their plans to move up with a 1-0 loss to Catania. It took until well into the second half, but Alejandro Gomez 61st minute winner proved the difference in the match. Roma finds themselves on the outside looking in the Europe picture, while Catania is sitting mid-table.
Serie A scoreboard:
Torino 3, Siena 2
Cagliari 2, Genoa 1
Catania 1, AS Roma 0
Lazio 2, Atalanta 0
Napoli 3, Palermo 0
Parma 1, Juventus 1
Udinese 3, Fiorentina 1
Sampdoria 0, AC Milan 0
Bologna 4, Chievo Verona 0
Inter Milan 2, US Pescara 0
Barcelona continued their excellent form with 3-1 win over a good Malaga side. Leonel Messi opened the scoring in the 27th minute, while Cesc Fabregas and Thiago scored in the 50th and 82nd minute, respectively. Diego Buonanotte scored in the 89th for Malaga, but it was far too late for a comeback.
Atletico Madrid kept pace with Barcelona, downing Real Zaragoza 2-0. Falcao hit a penalty in the Tiago and Falcao scored within seven minutes of each other in the first half, which would be all Atletico would need to take all three points. Atletico is 11 points out of first.
La Liga scoreboard:
Real Betis 2, Levante 0
Real Sociedad 1, Deportivo La Coruna 1
Atletico Madrid 2, Real Zaragoza 0
Barcelona 3, Malaga 1
Real Valladoild 3, Mallorca 1
Espanyol 1, Celta Vigo 0
Osasuna 0, Real Madrid 0
Valencia 2, Sevilla FC 0
Rayo Vallecano 3, Athletic Bilbao 1
Monday: Getafe v Granada
Lyon moved a two points clear of Paris Saint-Germain with a 2-1 win over Troyes. Mazime Gonalons struck first for Lyon with a goal in the 11th minute, but Troyes’ Benjamin Nivet responded in the 38th. Samuel Umtiti hit the winner in the 75th.
Marseille failed to keep pace with the top two, falling 3-1 to Sochaux. Slovan Privat got things started for Sochaux, followed by Cedric Bakambu’s goal in the 40th. Jeremy Morel’s own-goal just after halftime sealed Marseille’s fate. Even with the loss, Marseille is only three points back of the top spot.
Ligue 1 scoreboard:
Bastia 2, Stade de Reims 1
Nice 5, Valenciennes 0
Sochaux 3, Marseille 1
Lyon 2, Troyes 1
AS Nancy Lorraine 2, Lille 2
Brest 2, Evian Thonnon Gaillard 0
Montpellier 2, Lorient 0
Bordeaux 2, Stade Rennes 0
St. Etienne 2, Toulouse 2
Paris St.-Germain 0, AC Ajaccio 0