BY JUSTIN FERGUSON
It sounds like the fat lady is warming up her vocal cords all across Europe.
After this weekend’s matches, three of the best leagues on the planet–the Premier League, La Liga, and the Bundesliga–all have leaders who hold double digit advantages over second-place teams.
Lowly Southampton played the spoiler role this weekend by knocking off Manchester City and putting a serious dent into their title hopes after a 3-1 victory on Saturday. The City defeat allowed Manchester United to open up a 12-point lead after beating Everton, 2-0, on Sunday. Ryan Giggs’s early strike gave the veteran a record 23 consecutive seasons with a goal, and Robin van Persie’s goal right before the halftime whistle gave the striker 23 goals in his first season as a Red Devil.
In Spain, six Barcelona players got on the score sheet in their 6-1 thrashing of Getafe. One of the goalscorers, unsurprisingly, was Lionel Messi, who celebrated his new contract extension by extending his scoring streak to 13 straight La Liga matches. Even with the unfamiliar noon kickoff and international friendlies earlier in the week, Tito Vilanova’s men showed no signs of tiredness in their unstoppable run to the league title.
Barcelona’s win extended the club’s lead over Atletico Madrid to 12 points, but Los Colchoneros had a chance on Sunday evening to get the lead back to single digits. Their opponents, European hopefuls Rayo Vallecano, had other plans for the visitors. Twenty-year-olds Lass and Leo teamed up for two first half goals while Atletico had to settle for only one, a late second half goal from Radamel Falcao.
Over in the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich extended its lead to 15 points with a 4-0 win over struggling Schalke, the club’s fourth straight shutout of a league opponent. Defending champions Borussia Dortmund followed up last week’s big win over Bayer Leverkusen with a shocking 4-1 loss at home to Hamburg. Dortmund star Robert Lewandowski gave his team an early lead, but it was one-way traffic for HSV after the Polish striker’s goal.
Here are the rest of this weekend’s results from Europe’s top leagues:
Chelsea got back into the win column on Saturday, soundly beating Wigan Athletic 4-1 at Stamford Bridge. Frank Lampard continued his fine run of goalscoring, slotting home his 198th as a Blue in the 86th minute. The end of the four-match winless streak gave Rafa Benitez more points in the Premier League than the man he replaced, Roberto di Matteo.
The win for Chelsea kept the club’s one-point lead over Tottenham, who defeated Newcastle United 2-1 in the early Saturday match. Gareth Bale scored both goals for Spurs and came close to a hat trick as the rumors about his future at White Hart Lane begin to swirl around him. The Welsh winger has scored back-to-back game winners for Tottenham, goals 17 and 19 for club and country in the 2012-13 season.
Here is the full list of results from this weekend’s Premier League action:
Tottenham 2, Newcastle United 1
Chelsea 4, Wigan Athletic 1
Norwich City 0, Fulham 0
Stoke City 2, Reading 1
Arsenal 1, Sunderland 0
Swansea City 4, QPR 1
Southampton 3, Manchester City 1
Aston Villa 2, West Ham United 1
Manchester United 2, Everton 0
Cristiano Ronaldo prepared for his reunion with Manchester United with a hat trick in Real Madrid’s 4-1 win over Sevilla on Saturday. Karim Benzema warmed the net up for Ronaldo with an opening goal, then let the Portuguese superstar go to work. Ronaldo was pulled out of the match shortly after recording his 20th Real Madrid hat trick as Jose Mourinho prepares his club for this week’s Champions League match against the Premier League leaders.
Isco’s brace kept Malaga in control of the final Champions League slot in the league table, leading the way for a 2-1 win over Levante. The highly touted 20-year-old midfielder now has scored in his last three La Liga matches.
Here is the full list of results from this weekend’s La Liga action:
Mallorca 1, Osasuna 1
Valencia 1, Celta Vigo 0
Malaga 2, Levante 1
Granada 3, Deportivo La Coruna 0
Real Madrid 4, Sevilla 1
Barcelona 6, Getafe 1
Real Sociedad 2, Real Zaragoza 1
Espanyol 4, Athletic Bilbao 0
Rayo Vallecano 2, Atletico Madrid 1
Bayer Leverkusen was not able to take control of second place back from Borussia Dortmund on Saturday, drawing 3-3 in an entertaining match with Borussia Monchengladbach. Andre Schurrle’s 64th minute goal looked like it was going to be a Leverkusen game-winner for the longest time, but Patrick Herrmann equalized for the hosts in the 86th minute. Leverkusen now sits one point back from Dortmund and one ahead of fourth-place Eintracht Frankfurt, who drew 0-0 with Nurnberg.
Here is the full list of results from this weekend’s Bundesliga action:
Hamburg 4, Borussia Dortmund 1
Borussia Monchengladbach 3, Bayer Leverkusen 3
Eintracht Frankfurt 0, Nurnberg 0
Hannover 96 1, Hoffenheim 0
Wolfsburg 1, Greuther Furth 0
Werder Bremen 4, Stuttgart 1
Bayern Munich 4, Schalke 0
Augsburg 1, Mainz 1
Freiburg 1, Fortuna Dusseldorf 0
Juventus extended its lead in Serie A to five, making the Italian domestic league race the closest one in major European competition. Juve got an easy 2-0 win over European hopeful Fiorentina to kick off the big Saturday in Italy. Mirko Vucinic opened the scoring for the home squad and was followed by Alessandro Matri’s deciding goal in the 41st minute. Matri’s goal earned some laughs from the happy home crowd as the boot on his right foot flew off before he made contact with the ball–a sock-footed goal.
Napoli needed a win in the next match to stay just three points back from the defending champions, but the club was forced to salvage a 1-1 draw in the late moments with Lazio. Sergio Floccari gave host Lazio the lead in the 11th minute and hung onto it for well over an hour. But Napoli defender Hugo Campagnaro, who single-handedly prevented Lazio from adding to the lead multiple times in the match, became the late hero with an acrobatic equalizer in the 87th minute.
Here is the full list of results from this weekend’s Serie A action:
Juventus 2, Fiorentina 0
Lazio 1, Napoli 1
Parma 0, Genoa 0
Atalanta 0, Catania 0
Bologna 1, Siena 1
Caligari 1, AC Milan 1
Palermo 1, US Pescara 1
Sampdoria 3, AS Roma 1
Udinese 1, Torino 0
Inter Milan 3, Chievo Verona 1
After being tied with PSG for the Ligue 1 lead two weeks ago, Lyon has fallen back-to-back weeks 3-1, handing the Parisians a six-point lead in the table. PSG’s offense exploded in the second half, scoring all three in a 3-1 win over feisty Bastia on Friday. Lyon needed to avoid another loss to keep up with the league leaders, but the club was dominated by midtable Lille. Lisandro Lopez’s 57th minute penalty turned out to be a bitter consolation goal after it failed to spark a comeback for the home team.
Here is the full list of results from this weekend’s Ligue 1 action:
PSG 3, Bastia 1
St Etienne 4, Montpellier 1
Ajaccio 2, Bordeaux 1
Stade de Reims 2, Nancy 1
Nice 1, Lorient 1
Troyes 0, Sochaux 0
Valenciennes 2, Brest 1
Evian Thonon 1, Marseille 1
Stade Rennes 2, Toulouse 0
Lille 3, Lyon 1