By JUSTIN FERGUSON
For clubs in the English Premier League this season, it does not matter if you are battling in the thick of the title race or scrapping down in the relegation spots — when you visit Manchester City at the Ethiad Stadium, you are going to be in for a long day.
Man City drilled first-place Arsenal 6-3 on Saturday to improve their home record to 8-0-0 and a jaw-dropping +35 goal differential. Leading scorer Sergio Aguero opened the goal fest, summer signing Fernandinho recorded his first brace in the sky blue of Man City, and Yaya Toure closed proceedings with a stoppage-time penalty conversion for the now fourth-place Citizens.
Arsenal became the first team in the EPL this season to score more multiple goals at the Ethiad, but Theo Walcott’s brace and Per Mertesacker’s second-half header were not enough against a Manchester City squad that scored on six of its seven shots on goal Saturday. Walcott, who was making his first start for the Gunners since September, netted an equalizer in the 31st minute, but Alvaro Negredo reinstated the hosts’ lead eight minutes later. When the English winger cut the lead to 3-2 in the 63rd minute on a superb shot, Man City’s David Silva responded with a goal three minutes later.
While Arsenal suffered a tough defeat at the top of the table, Spain’s league leaders were on the winning side of a Top-4 Saturday match. Neymar scored both goals for a still-healing Barcelona in their 2-1 home victory against Villarreal. The young Brazilian star converted a penalty at the half-hour mark and the match-winner in the 68th minute for the Catalans, who dominated possession and allowed just one shot on goal in their victory.
Here is a closer look at all the weekend’s action from the top leagues in Europe:
Liverpool returned to second place in grand fashion Sunday thanks to their 5-0 drubbing of Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane. Luis Suarez continued his blistering run of scoring in league play with two of Liverpool’s five goals on 10-man Tottenham, who had only allowed seven goals in seven home matches prior to the Reds’ visit. Spurs finished the match with zero shots on goal, putting more pressure on manager Andre Villas-Boas and the seventh-place club from North London.
Chelsea sit in third after this weekend’s action and are just two points behind leaders Arsenal, who they visit next Monday. The Blues defeated Crystal Palace 2-1 at Stamford Bridge thanks to first-half goals from Fernando Torres and Ramires. But Chelsea did not ease to victory with their slim lead in the second half as Petr Cech was called into action several times against the league’s lowest-scoring offense, which grabbed an early equalizer from in-form striker Marouane Chamakh.
Here are the results from this weekend’s English Premier League action:
Manchester City 6, Arsenal 3
Cardiff City 1, West Bromwich Albion 0
Chelsea 2, Crystal Palace 1
Everton 4, Fulham 1
Newcastle United 1, Southampton 1
West Ham United 0, Sunderland 0
Hull City 0, Stoke City 0
Manchester United 3, Aston Villa 0
Norwich City 1, Swansea City 1
Liverpool 5, Tottenham Hotspur 0
After a first half with few opportunities on goal, second-place Atletico Madrid rode a big second half to a 3-0 home win against Valencia. Despite missing a penalty kick in the 74th minute, leading scorer Diego Costa opened and closed the scoring in the second half to lead Atletico to victory. Raul Garcia, who entered the match for David Villa just after the hour mark, also scored within two minutes of his introduction, but Atletico were unable to score the one additional goal that would have pushed them to the top of the La Liga table.
Atletico’s city rivals Real Madrid had to rally from two-goal deficit to draw Osasuna 2-2 at El Sadar, moving them down to five points behind the league’s top two squads. Oriol Riera scored both goals for Osasuna, and Sergio Ramos was sent off for his second yellow card in what looked like a hopeless situation for Real. But Los Blancos fought back, getting a goal from Isco just before the halftime whistle and an equalizer from Pepe after their opponents also went down to 10 men.
Here are the results from this weekend’s La Liga action:
Levante 2, Elche 1
Osasuna 2, Real Madrid 2
Granada 2, Rayo Vallecano 0
Barcelona 2, Villarreal 1
Malaga 1, Getafe 0
Almeria 0, Espanyol 0
Real Sociedad 5, Real Betis 1
Sevilla 1, Athletic Bilbao 1
Atletico Madrid 3, Valencia 0
First-place Bayern Munich extended their league lead to seven points Saturday with a 3-1 home victory against struggling Hamburg. Bayern’s Marios — Mandzukic and Gotze, respectively — scored on either side of the halftime break to put the defending champions in prime position to rebound from their Champions League loss to Manchester City earlier in the week. Pierre-Michel Lasogga pulled one back for the visitors late, but Xherdan Shaqiri scored in stoppage time to give Bayern a two-goal home victory.
Second-place Bayer Leverkusen lost ground on Bayern this weekend after a shocking 1-0 home loss to Eintracht Frankfurt, who had gone without a win in 10 consecutive Bundesliga matches heading into the BayArena. Midfielder Marco Russ scored the match’s only goal in the 61st minute, and teammate Joselu had a late penalty that would have sealed the three points denied in stoppage time. On the other side of the stadium, Eintracht goalkeeper Kevin Trapp pulled off some late heroics to preserve the victory, making four clutch saves after Russ’s go-ahead goal.
Here are the results from this weekend’s Bundesliga action:
Hertha Berlin 3, Werder Bremen 2
Bayern Munich 3, Hamburg 1
Augsburg 4, Eintracht Braunschweig 1
Hannover 3, Nurnberg 3
Mainz 0, Borussia Monchengladbach 0
Hoffenheim 2, Borussia Dortmund 2
Wolfsburg 3, Stuttgart 1
Schalke 2, Freiburg 0
Eintracht Frankfurt 1, Bayer Leverkusen 0
Third-place Napoli snapped Inter Milan’s unbeaten run and kept their lead against Fiorentina at five points with a 4-2 Sunday win at the Stadio San Paolo. Gonzalo Higuain put the hosts out in front with a goal in the ninth minute, but Inter Milan’s Esteban Cambiasso equalized in the 35th minute. Napoli regained and extended their lead with a quickfire double from Dries Mertens and Blerim Dzemaili just before halftime, and Jose Maria Callejon sealed all three points for Napoli with an 81st-minute strike.
First-place Juventus kept their league lead intact with an impressive 4-0 home victory against Sassuolo on Sunday. Striker Carlos Tevez was the star for dominant Juve, who bounced back from their Champions League, snow-delayed exit at the hands of Galatasaray earlier in the week. Tevez scored in the 15th, 45th and 68th minutes for the defending champions, and the former Manchester City man assisted teammate Federico Peluso in the 28th minute of the rout at Juventus Stadium.
Here are the results from this weekend’s Serie A action:
Catania 0, Hellas Verona 0
Sampdoria 1, Chievo Verona 0
Fiorentina 3, Bologna 0
Genoa 1, Atalanta 1
Lazio 2, Livorno 0
Parma 0, Cagliari 0
Torino 2, Udinese 0
Juventus 4, Sassuolo 0
Napoli 4, Inter Milan 2
First-place Paris Saint-Germain overcame some recent road woes at Stade Rennes and kept hold of the league lead with a 3-1 victory at the Stade de la Route de Lorient. Thiago Motta opened the scoring with a 19th-minute strike, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic converted yet another penalty in the 52nd minute. Romain Alessandrini gave the hosts hopes of at least a point with a 67th-minute goal off a free kick, but Edinson Cavani killed Rennes off with a goal in stoppage time that sealed all three points for the defending champions.
Second-place AS Monaco also picked up a road victory this weekend, defeating Guingamp by a score of 2-0 on Saturday. Eighteen-year-old striker Anthony Martial got on the scoresheet for Monaco in the fourth minute after receiving a fine pass from winger James Rodriguez. Guingamp’s problems intensified in the 23rd minute after Jonathan Martins-Pereira was sent off for his second yellow card, but Monaco only found the back of the net one more time on a Layvin Kurzawa 42nd-minute header.
Here are the results from this weekend’s Ligue 1 action:
Saint Etienne 1, Montpellier 0
Paris Saint-Germain 3, Stade Rennes 1
Lorient 2, Ajaccio 1
Evian Thonon Gaillard 1, Stade de Reims 1
AS Monaco 2, Guingamp 0
Toulouse 2, Nantes 1
Nice 1, Sochaux 0
Bordeaux 2, Valenciennes 1
Lille 2, Bastia 1
Lyon 2, Marseille 2
What did you think of this weekend’s European league action? See Manchester City as a serious title contender after their high-scoring win against Arsenal? Impressed with Neymar’s performance for Barcelona? Which other results caught your eye?
Share your thoughts below.