By IAN HOLLIDAY
On a Saturday that saw a single-day record 40 goals scored in the Premier League, it was the last two that arguably sent the biggest shock waves around England. Last placed Wolverhampton Wanderers came back from an early 1-0 deficit against league leaders Manchester United, drawing level in the 10th minute, and getting the eventual winner five minutes before halftime.
The loss was United's first of the season, ending a run of 24 matches unbeaten for the Red Devils. The result also kept the club from pulling further ahead of second-placed Arsenal, which rather infamously squandered a 4-0 lead in the final 25 minutes of its match against Newcastle to draw 4-4.
Those two results don't even scratch the surface of what was a fascinating weekend in England that included Fernando Torres' disappointing Chelsea debut against his former club Liverpool, Clint Dempsey equaling Brian McBride's record for goals scored by an American in a Premier League season, and entertaining, back-and-forth affairs like Everton's 5-3 win over Blackpool and Wigan's 4-3 triumph over Blackburn.
In the rest of Europe, things were notably more subdued. In Spain, Barcelona cruised to another 3-0 victory, setting a record for consecutive wins in La Liga with 16. Real Madrid avoided falling 10 points behind the leaders with a 4-1 win of its own.
Some of England's goalscoring fever caught on in Inter Milan's match against AS Roma, which ended 5-3 and saw the Milan club climb to third in the Serie A standings, its highest position of the year. Meanwhile, leaders AC Milan were held to a 1-1 draw at Genoa and are now just five points clear of their derby rivals.
Here is a rundown of all the weekend scores from Europe's top leagues:
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Arsenal's meltdown against Newcastle was how quickly it happened. After being up 2-0 in the first three minutes, 3-0 in the first 10, and 4-0 within 26, the Gunners were less than half an hour away from registering a clean sheet and a blowout win before the Magpies even got on the board. By all accounts, the game turned on the 50th minute sending off of Abou Diaby, but even with its new-found momentum Newcastle took almost 20 more minutes to break through. On a day in which the leaders looked eminently beatable, the second-placed club didn't look up to the task of catching them.
West Ham United 0, Birmingham City 1
Chelsea 0, Liverpool 1
Stoke City 3, Sunderland 2
Aston Villa 2, Fulham 2
Everton 5, Blackpool 3
Manchester City 3, West Bromwich Albion 0
Newcastle United 4, Arsenal 4
Tottenham 2, Bolton 1
Wigan Athletic 4, Blackburn 3
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2, Manchester United 1
Real Madrid's 4-1 win over Real Sociedad not only kept them within theoretical striking distance of Barcelona for the La Liga crown, it also solidified the club's hold on second place, which could have been very much in doubt if the weekend's results had gone differently. Coming into the weekend, Levante was second-to-last in La Liga, and traveling to Villarreal, which had taken 31 of a possible 33 points at home this season. Another loss for Real Madrid, and the Yellow Submarine would have only had to take care of business against one of the league's worst teams to climb within three points of second place. Instead, the Merengues got back on track with a blowout, and Villarreal stumbled, falling 1-0 to the visitors in surprise fashion. Now, the gap between second and third is a healthy nine points, and the gap between Villarreal and fourth-placed Valencia has shrunken to one.
Sevilla 0, Malaga 0
Real Madrid 4, Real Sociedad 1
Valencia 2, Hercules 0
Almeria 3, Espanyol 2
Athletic Bilbao 3, Sporting Gijon 0
Getafe 4, Deportivo La Coruna 1
Osasuna 1, Mallorca 1
Real Zaragoza 1, Racing Santander 1
Villarreal 0, Levante 1
Barcelona 3, Atletico Madrid 0
Two of Italy's biggest non-Milan-based clubs, AS Roma and Juventus, have each had challenging years. After this weekend's matches, the clubs are seventh and eighth in Serie A, on 39 and 38 points, respectively. The good news for the struggling giants is that they're only three and four points behind fourth-placed Lazio for the league's final Champions League place. The bad news is that neither club has been consistent enough this season to lay a solid claim to that spot. Roma began the season poorly and has returned to form, while Juve started strongly before falling back to the pack. The Turin club got two goals from Cagliari loanee Alessandro Matri against his former club on Saturday to win 3-1, while Roma fell to suddenly high-flying Inter.
Bologna 1, Catania 0
Brescia 2, Bari 0
Genoa 1, AC Milan 1
Lazio 1, Chievo 1
Lecce 2, Palermo 4
Napoli 2, Cesena 0
Parma 1, Fiorentina 1
Inter Milan 5, AS Roma 3
Udinese 2, Sampdoria 0
Cagliari 1, Juventus 3
It was a rough weekend for Germany's top teams, with the top six clubs in the Bundesliga managing just one win between them. Leaders Borussia Dortmund managed only a scoreless draw with Schalke, but ended up extending their lead anyway, when second-placed Bayer Leverkusen fell 1-0 to Nurnberg. Meanwhile, Bayern Munich dropped from third to fifth with a surprise 3-2 loss to relegation-threatened FC Cologne. The only win for the top six came from Hannover 96, which dispatched of Wolfsburg 1-0. The victory brings American Steve Cherundolo's side up to fourth in the league, within goal-differential of Germany's third and final Champions League spot.
SC Freiburg 0, Eintracht Frankfurt 0
FC Cologne 3, Bayern Munich 2
Hannover 96 1, VfL Wolfsburg 0
Mainz 1, Werder Bremen 1
Nurnberg 1, Bayer Leverkusen 0
Hoffenheim 3, Kaiserslautern 2
Borussia Moenchengladbach 2, VfB Stuttgart 3
Borussia Dortmund 0, Schalke 04 0
Hamburg v. St. Pauli (postponed)
Ligue 1 has been one of the more entertaining and unpredictable leagues in Europe this year, and this weekend was no exception. Leaders Lille gave up a last minute goal to 14th-placed AJ Auxerre, a club that qualified for the Champions League last year, and squandered an opportunity to extend its lead further by drawing 1-1. Of course, Lille wasn't exactly punished for its slip-up because second-placed Paris St. Germain lost 1-0 to Stade Rennes, which used the victory to stay a step ahead of last year's champions Marseille and climb into the league's final Champions League place. Rennes, Marseille and St. Etienne all overtook Lyon, which managed only a scoreless draw against Bordeaux. Confused? That's the kind of season it's been in France, where no one team seems any more likely to win the league than anyone else.
AJ Auxerre 1, Lille 1
Toulouse 2, AS Monaco 0
Lyon 0, Bordeaux 0
Brest 2, AS Nancy Lorraine 1
Caen 0, Lorient 2
Lens 1, Valenciennes 1
Marseille 1, Arles 0
Montpellier 1, St. Etienne 2
Nice 1, Sochaux 0
Stade Rennes 1, Paris St. Germain 0
This weekend's Scottish Cup action is notable if for no other reason than that it featured a match-up of Old Firm rivals Rangers and Celtic, the third such match of the year. The clubs met on Sunday for a fifth round match, earlier than usual for Scotland's two biggest clubs to meet in the country's oldest knockout competition. Rangers took the lead twice at home, but each time Celtic was up to the task of equalizing. The match ended 2-2, forcing a replay at Celtic Park, the fourth Old Firm match of the season.
What did you think of this weekend's results? Impressed by the number of quality fixtures in England? Surprised by any of the results elsewhere? Hoping Maurice Edu scores the winner in the next Old Firm clash?
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