By JOHN BOSCHINI
It looked to be another long afternoon at the Emirates after Arsenal found themselves down two to Aston Villa at halftime and on the verge of going out of the FA Cup. Relief came quickly, however, as the Gunners scored three goals within 10 minutes to move on to the fifth round.
Robin van Persie scored two penalties and a ball that ricocheted off Theo Walcott's head found the back of the net in the 54th, 57th and 61st minute. Villa's first-half goals came from Richard Dunn's powerful header and Darren Bent's rebound from a tight angle. Now Arsenal's focus turns towards overturning a three-game losing streak in the Premier League.
Barcelona's inconsistent away form continues to damage their title hopes as the defending champions slumped to a 0-0 draw with relegation-threatened Villareal. This was Barcelona's fifth draw away from home and Pep Guardiola has managed only 17 points from a possible 30 away from the friendly confines of the Camp Nou.
The title races in Italy, Germany and Holland remained close as most of the top teams avoided costly upsets.
Here is a closer look at all the results around the top leagues in Europe.
Thankfully, the massive FA Cup tie between Liverpool and Manchester United was all about the soccer as Liverpool won a 2-1 thriller a Anfield. Dirk Kuyt scored with two minutes left on the clock to advance Liverpool into the fifth round. Daniel Agger scored early and Park Ji-Sung scored just before halftime. Crawley Town continued their unlikely run in the cup while Swindon's came to an abrupt end.
Watford 0, Tottenham Hotspur 1
Everton 2, Fulham 1
Queens Park Rangers 0, Chelsea 1
Liverpool 2, Manchester United 1
Blackpool 1, Sheffield Wednesday 1
Bolton Wanderers 2, Swansea City 1
Derby County 0, Stoke City 2
Hull City 0, Crawley Town 1
Leicester City 2, Swindon Town 0
Millwall 1, Southampton 1
Sheffield United 0, Birmingham 4
Stevenage 1, Notts County 0
West Bromwich Albion 1, Norwich City 2
Brighton 1, Newcastle United 0
Sunderland 1, Middlesbrough 1
Arsenal 3, Aston Villa 2
The three-way tie at the top of the table persists as Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Schalke cruised to multi-goal wins. Werder Bremen and Bayer Leverkusen did themselves no favors in their attempts to break into the Champions League with a 1-1 draw. The top four have opened up an eight-point cushion.
Hannover 1, Nurnberg 0
Bayern Munich 2, VfL Wolfsburg 0
Borussia Dortmund 3, TSG Hoffenheim 1
FC Augsburg 2, Kaiserslautern 2
Hertha Berlin 1, Hamburg SV 2
Werder Bremen 1, Bayer Leverkusen 1
FC Cologne 1, Schalke 4
Mainz 3, SC Freiburg 1
VfB Stuttgart 0, Borussia Monchengladbach 3
Real Madrid opened up a seven-point lead on Barcelona thanks to a 3-1 win over Real Zaragoza. Lafita scored in the 11th minute to give the away side a surprising lead but Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil scored to salvage the three points. Real Sociedad registered the biggest win in Spain with a 5-1 thrashing of Sporting Gijon.
Espanyol 1, Mallorca 0
Rayo Vallecano 2, Athletic Bilbao 3
Real Madrid 3, Real Zaragoza 1
Villareal 0, Barcelona 0
Real Betis 0, Granada 0
Levante 1, Getafe 2
Real Sociedad 5, Sporting Gijon 1
Racing Santander 2, Valencia 2
Malaga 2, Sevilla 1
Osasuna vs. Atletico Madrid, 3 p.m.
Inter Milan's impressive seven-game winning streak in Serie A came to a sudden end on Sunday with a 1-0 loss to Lecce. The loss puts Inter nine points behind leaders Juventus and deals a serious blow to their title hopes. Juventus maintained their lead after a 2-1 win over third-placed Udinese.
Catania 1, Parma 1
Juventus 2, Udinese 1
Fiorentina 2, Siena 1
AS Roma 1, Bologna 1
Cesena 0, Atalanta 1
Chievo Verona 0, Lazio 3
Genoa 3, Napolia 2
Lecce 1, Inter Milan 0
Palermo 2, Novara 0
AC Milan 3, Cagliari 0
The picture at the top of the table is exactly the same as the top four teams rolled to victories. Paris St. Germain is clinging to a slim three-point lead over Montpellier and with the transfer window rapidly closing the league title is anything but settled.
AJ Auxerre 1, AS Nancy Lorraine 3
Brest 0, Paris St Germain 1
Lorient 1, Sochaux 1
Lyon 3, Dijon FCO 1
Nice 0, Montpellier 1
Toulouse 1, Caen 0
Lille 3, St Etienne 0
Evian Thonon Gaillard 0, Bordeaux 0
Valenciennes 1, AJ Ajaccio 2
Stade Rennes 1, Marseille 2
AZ Alkmaar's dream run through the Eredivisie hit a bit of a speedbump as they fell 2-0 to Roda JB Kerkrade. PSV Eindhoven jumped into the lead while a revitalized FC Twente took over the second spot. The relegation picture is also becoming clearer as the three bottom teams all failed to win.
PSV Eindhoven 3, Vitesse Arnhem 1
Heerenveen 2, FC Utrecht 0
NAC Breda 1, De Graafschap 1
SC Heracles Almelo 3, Excelsior 0
Roda JC Kerkrade 2, AZ Alkmaar 0
Feyenoord Rotterdam 4, Ajax 2
RKC Waalwijk 4, VVV Venlo 0
FC Twente 4, FC Groningen 1
NEC Nijmegen 2, ADO Den Haag 0
What did you think of this weekend? Are you still a fan of the FA Cup? Is Inter officially out of the title race? Can Barcelona ever find some away form?
Share your thoughts below.
Wat a cme back for arsenal ystrday that waz gud an we hope we continue lyk dat bt stil our backline needs to bi fixed
Unless you’re a Villa fan.
God, it sucks to support a team you actively loathe practically everything about. Keane looked good, though.
The Arsenal game was awesome!