BY JUSTIN FERGUSON
A penalty save from Joe Hart became the spark that Manchester City needed to dispatch Chelsea 2-0, giving the defending champions their first league win since January 19th.
The goalkeeper committed a foul on masked Chelsea striker Demba Ba in the box early in the second half, setting Frank Lampard up for a chance at his 200th club goal. But Hart guessed correctly on the direction of Lampard’s spot kick, tipping his England teammate’s shot away.
Yaya Toure made the Blues pay for the missed penalty 11 minutes later. The Ivorian collected a pass from David Silva, cut into the box and delivered a fine strike just inside the far post.
Rafa Benitez sent in Victor Moses and Oscar in response to Toure’s goal, but the changes failed to generate any more offense for Chelsea. Fernando Torres came in with ten minutes to go, but the embattled striker could not find an equalizer for the Blues.
Roberto Mancini was able to find a goal off the bench. Second-half substitute Carlos Tevez dramatically sealed the win for Manchester City in the 85th-minute with a goal from just outside the box. Tevez’s clincher kept Chelsea seven points back and prevented rival United, who defeated QPR 2-0 on Saturday, from gaining more ground in the title race.
In Italy, AC Milan and Inter Milan played out a thrilling 1-1 draw, ending fourth-place Inter’s streak of derby wins.
The 208th meeting between the city rivals opened with a sneaky shot from Inter’s Antonio Cassano, but Milan would control the offensive flow for the rest of the half. Stephan El Shaarawy latched onto the end of a inch-perfect Kevin-Prince Boateng pass and fired a dipping shot past Samir Handanovic in the 21st minute. Milan failed to convert on a pair of great chances from former Inter man Mario Balotelli, closing the half up 1-0.
The two sides traded scoring opportunities and amazing saves until Ezequiel Schelotto equalized on a cross from Yuto Nagatomo in the 71st minute. The new signing from Atalanta scored just three minutes after his substitution into the match, making the blue side of San Siro erupt in celebration.
Inter would hold off their attack-minded rivals for the final 20 minutes of the match, getting a few more crucial saves from Handanovic. The draw allowed the Nerazzurri to move past struggling Lazio, who face US Pescara on Monday evening.
Here is a closer look at all of the major European action from this weekend:
Swansea City captured its first major trophy in its 100-year history on Sunday, crushing Bradford City 5-0 in the Capital One Cup final—the largest margin of victory at a final in the tournament’s history. Bradford City, who had upset three Premier League sides en route to the final, were completely dominated from the opening whistle. Nathan Dyer and Jonathan De Guzman each recorded two goals for the strong Swans, but the two’s goals came with a bit of controversy. Dyer had already scored twice when De Guzman drew a penalty that got Bradford goalkeeper Matt Duke sent off. The winger was visibly furious with De Guzman, who refused to let him take the penalty and become the first player to score a hat trick in cup final history.
In league action, Arsenal got three major points in a 2-1 over Aston Villa on Saturday. Santi Cazorla opened and closed the scoring in the match, moving his club one point back from North London rival Tottenham and two points back from Chelsea. Cazorla’s 85th minute winner was a Spanish connection as he was assisted by new defender Nacho Monreal. Andreas Weinmann scored the lone goal for the Villans, who remain in the relegation zone.
Here is the full list of results from this weekend’s EPL action:
Fulham 1, Stoke City 0
Arsenal 2, Aston Villa 1
Norwich City 2, Everton 1
Manchester United 2, QPR 0
Wigan Athletic 3, Reading 0
West Bromwich Albion 2, Sunderland 1
Manchester City 2, Chelsea 0
Newcastle United 4, Southampton 2
Swansea City 5, Bradford City 0 (Capital One Cup Final)
Lionel Messi extended his La Liga scoring streak to 15 matches in a 2-1 home victory over Sevilla. Messi’s 60th minute strike, the end of a one-two combination with Cristian Tello, would be the winning goal in a match that was on the verge of being Barcelona’s second straight bad result. Sevilla’s Alberto Botia scored just before the halftime whistle to give the road underdogs a surprise lead, but it was erased in the 52nd minute by a David Villa header. Sevilla had several chances for an equalizer late, but the Barcelona defense stood strong and preserved the club’s 12-point lead in the league.
Real Madrid also found itself down 1-0 to an inferior opponent on Saturday, but the third-place club matched its rival’s comeback with a 2-1 win over Deportivo La Coruna. The last-place hosts scored 34 minutes in against a Madrid side that was not at full strength. Jose Mourinho elected to rest some starters ahead of Wednesday’s Copa del Rey clash with Barcelona, but the Special One was forced to send Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil and Cristiano Ronaldo in minutes into the second half. However, two players that started the match would save the day for Los Blancos. Kaka equalized on a low drive from distance in the 73rd minute, and Gonzalo Higuain delivered a match-winning strike with two minutes left of regular time.
Here is the full list of results from this weekend’s La Liga action:
Real Sociedad 3, Athletic Bilbao 1
Getafe 3, Mallorca 1
Real Zaragoza 2, Valencia 2
Real Madrid 2, Deportivo La Coruna 1
Barcelona 2, Sevilla 1
Real Valladolid 2, Rayo Vallecano 1
Celta Vigo 2, Granada 1
Atletico Madrid 1, Espanyol 0
Real Betis 3, Malaga 0
Borussia Dortmund saw the gap between themselves and league-leading Bayern Munich increase to 17 points after this weekend’s action. Dortmund drew 1-1 with rival Monchengladbach on Sunday. The visitors could only get one goal, a Mario Gotze penalty, out of a dominant first half. Host Monchengladbach looked like a different team in the second half, getting an equalizer from teenaged Amin Younes in the 67th minute. Substitute Peniel Mlapa almost found a winner in the last minute, but his shot could not find its way past Roman Weidenfeller.
Third-place Bayer Leverkusen failed to take advantage of Dortmund’s draw as the club was held to a scoreless draw with last-place Greuther Furth. Leverkusen put 11 shots on goal, but Furth goalkeeper Wolfgang Hesl kept the visitors from getting the three points.
Here is the full list of results from this weekend’s Bundesliga action:
Freiburg 0, Eintracht Frankfurt 0
Bayern Munich 6, Werder Bremen 1
Augsburg 2, Hoffenheim 1
Hannover 96 5, Hamburg 1
Mainz 1, Wolfsburg 1
Stuttgart 1, Nurnberg 1
Schalke 2, Fortuna Dusseldorf 1
Borussia Monchengladbach 1, Borussia Dortmund 1
Greuther Furth 0, Bayer Leverkusen 0
Juventus extended its lead over second-place Napoli to seven points on Sunday with a 3-0 home win over rising Siena. Juve manager Antonio Conte told his players that the Siena match would be one of their toughest and most important matches of the season, and they appeared to take their manager’s words to heart. The 18th-place visitors struck woodwork twice in the match, making the league leaders work hard for the three points.
AS Roma overcame the snow and a brace from Atalanta forward Marko Livaja to record a 3-2 win, giving the club its first winning streak of the season in Serie A. Michael Bradley would get the assist on the game winner, finding the head of Vasilis Torosidis with a well-placed through ball. Roma is now just four points back from a Europa League spot and five back from AC Milan’s Champions League spot.
Here is the full list of results from this weekend’s Serie A action:
Palermo 0, Genoa 0
Sampdoria 2, Chievo Verona 0
AS Roma 3, Atalanta 2
Cagliari 4, Torino 3
Juventus 3, Siena 0
Catania 2, Parma 1
AC Milan 1, Inter Milan 1
David Beckham made a dream debut for league-leading Paris Saint-Germain, playing a part in Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s injury time clincher for his new club’s 2-0 win over rival Marseille. The English midfielder came in for Javier Pastore in the 76th minute, helping prevent an OM equalizer. PSG’s first goal came off of a Lucas shot that took a bad deflection off of OM defender Nicolas N’Koulou, who was later booked for simulation.
Second-place Lyon recorded its first home win of 2013 on Sunday, getting a 3-1 comeback win over Lorient. Jeremie Aliadiere’s early header was erased by Lisandro Lopez’s seventh goal of the season. After holding off a strong Lorient squad for the rest of the first half, Lyon got a go-ahead goal from Rachid Ghezzal in the 50th minute. Former Lorient man Arnold Mvuemba put the nail in his old club’s coffin in stoppage time, keeping the gap between his current club and PSG at three points.
Here is the full list of results from this weekend’s Ligue 1 action:
Nice 2, Stade de Reims 0
Stade Rennes 2, Sochaux 2
Lille 3, Ajaccio 1
St Etienne 3, Nancy 0
Montpellier 1, Evian Thonon 0
Troyes 0, Bastia 0
Valenciennes 0, Toulouse 0
Lyon 3, Lorient 1
Brest 2, Bordeaux 0
PSG 2, Marseille 0