By JUSTIN FERGUSON
Real Madrid were not able to replicate their dominant Copa del Rey performance against crosstown rivals Atletico Madrid in league action Sunday, but Los Blancos were able to hang onto the top spot in La Liga thanks to some more late heroics from Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese superstar struck a low shot past Thibaut Courtois in the 82nd minute Sunday to earn Real a 2-2 draw with Atletico at the Vicente Calderon. Atletico were close to pulling off back-to-back league wins against Real for the first time since 1951, but Ronaldo’s goal with eight minutes remaining ensured the honors between the capital city rivals would be shared.
Real Madrid, fresh off a 6-1 thrashing of Schalke 04 in Champions League play, got off to a fantastic start when Karim Benzema scored in the third minute off a fine assist from Angel Di Maria. Although their penalty claim minutes later was denied, Atletico jumped out in front thanks to a strike in the 28th minute from Koke and a first-half stoppage time wonder goal from Gabi. Both sides had excellent chances to score again throughout the second half, but Ronaldo was the only one to get on the board after halftime of another thrilling Madrid Derby.
In England, Manchester City captured the Capital One Cup in a 3-1 final at Wembley thanks to a fantastic second-half comeback against upset-minded Sunderland. Fabio Borini put the Black Cats ahead in the 10th minute of the match, but Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri combined for a brilliant double to put City ahead just 10 minutes after the halftime break.
Sunderland were unable to piece together a quality move for an equalizer, and Jesus Navas sealed the cup for the Citizens in the 90th minute with one more goal.
Here is a closer look at all the weekend’s action from the top leagues in Europe:
Arsenal’s title hopes took a major hit Saturday when they fell 1-0 to 13th-place Stoke City at the Britannia. Stoke, who had beaten Chelsea and Manchester United at their home stadium this season, grabbed all three points in the 76th minute as Jonathan Walters converted a spot kick from a handball call on Laurent Koscielny. Arsenal had zero shots on goal in the entire second half, and substitute Yaya Sanogo had an effort sail over the crossbar shortly before the final whistle in a frustrating loss for the Gunners.
Arsenal’s loss at Stoke City meant first-place Chelsea were able to open up a 4-point lead atop the English Premier League with their 3-1 victory at last-place Fulham. Midfielder Andre Schurrle was the hero for the Blues as he netted a hat trick in less than 20 minutes of second-half action at Craven Cottage. John Heitinga grabbed a consolation goal for Fulham in the 78th minute, but the Cottagers were doomed to stay in the league’s basement thanks to a loss from their title-hunting London neighbors.
Here are the results from this weekend’s English Premier League action:
Everton 1, West Ham United 0
Chelsea 3, Fulham 1
Newcastle United 4, Hull City 1
Stoke City 1, Arsenal 0
Liverpool 3, Southampton 0
Aston Villa 4, Norwich City 1
Swansea City 1, Crystal Palace 1
Tottenham Hotspur 1, Cardiff City 0
Second-place Barcelona moved just one point behind league-leading Real Madrid on Sunday with a 4-1 home win against Almeria. The defending champions started and finished the match strong against their bottom-half opposition, who grabbed their lone goal in the 27th minute on an Angel Trujillo header from a corner kick. Barcelona scored twice in the opening 25 minutes through Alexis Sanchez and Lionel Messi, but it took them until the final few moments to put the match to rest with goals from Carlos Puyol and Xavi.
Athletic Bilbao opened the weekend in Spain with a commanding 4-0 home victory against Granada to secure a 6-point advantage in the race for La Liga’s last Champions League spot. Aritz Aduriz netted a hat trick for Bilbao, who returned to their dominant form inside the new San Mames Stadium. Aduriz headed in his opener in the 6th minute, struck from distance in the 18th minute and scored from the penalty spot in the 74th minute to secure all three points for fourth-place Bilbao in their race to Champions League qualification.
Here are the results from this weekend’s La Liga action:
Athletic Bilbao 4, Granada 0
Malaga 1, Real Valladolid 1
Levante 2, Osasuna 0
Getafe 0, Espanyol 0
Elche 1, Celta Vigo 0
Villarreal 1, Real Betis 1
Atletico Madrid 2, Real Madrid 2
Sevilla 1, Real Sociedad 0
Barcelona 4, Almeria 1
Rayo Vallecano 1, Valencia 0
First-place Bayern Munich put the finishing touches on a miserable week for Schalke, who were routed 5-1 by the defending champions after a 6-1 home loss to Real Madrid. Bayern had four of their goals within the opening half-hour, with David Alaba and Mario Mandzukic joining a first-half brace from winger Arjen Robben. After teammate Rafinha put Schalke on the Allianz Arena scoreboard with an own goal, Robben rounded off his hat trick from the penalty spot as Kyriakos Papadopoulos was sent off for a foul in the box on Mandzukic.
Bayer Leverkusen lost their third straight Bundesliga match Saturday, a 1-0 home loss to now sixth-place Mainz. Maxim Choupo-Moting scored the match’s only goal in the 37th minute, hitting a backheel past Bernd Leno for his seventh goal of the current campaign. Mainz goalkeeper Loris Karius made eight saves in the match to secure the loss for Bayer Leverkusen, who dropped to third place after Borussia Dortmund’s 3-0 victory against Nurnberg.
Here are the results from this weekend’s Bundesliga action:
Hertha Berlin 0, Freiburg 0
Mainz 1, Bayer Leverkusen 0
Borussia Dortmund 3, Nurnberg 0
Augsburg 1, Hannover 1
Eintracht Braunschweig 1, Borussia Monchengladbach 1
Werder Bremen 1, Hamburg 0
Bayern Munich 5, Schalke 1
Hoffenheim 6, Wolfsburg 2
Eintracht Frankfurt 2, Stuttgart 1
Juventus opened up an 11-point lead atop Serie A this weekend thanks to a scoreless draw for second-place AS Roma and a 2-0 victory against AC Milan. The two-time defending champions had a fewer amount of chances on goal than their hosts Sunday, but Gianluigi Buffon’s nine saves paved the way for a Juve victory at the San Siro. Fernando Llorente scored just before halftime to open the scoring for Juventus, and Carlos Tevez sealed the three points with a long-distance rocket past Christian Abbiati in the 68th minute.
AS Roma and fifth-place Inter Milan canceled each other out in an intense but scoreless draw at Stadio Olimpico on Saturday. Roma had a goal ruled out in the 32nd minute for offside after Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic scrambled in a Mattia Destro effort off the post. Handanovic made four saves in the hotly contested match, which featured several altercations between the two sides, to move just four points behind fourth-place Fiorentina in the race for European qualification.
Here are the results from this weekend’s Serie A action:
AS Roma 0, Inter Milan 0
Cagliari 3, Udinese 0
Atalanta 2, Chievo Verona 1
Genoa 2, Catania 0
Hellas Verona 0, Bologna 0
Parma 1, Sassuolo 0
Sampdoria 2, Torino 0
Livorno 1, Napoli 1
Juventus 2, AC Milan 0
Lazio 1, Fiorentina 0
First-place Paris Saint-Germain went eight points clear in their quest for a Ligue 1 title repeat Sunday with another Le Classique victory against Marseille at the Parc des Princes. PSG defeated their traditional rivals 2-0 thanks to second-half goals from Maxwell and Edinson Cavani following a goalless opening 45 minutes in the capital city. Cavani, who was making his first appearance for PSG in more than a month, put the match to rest in the 79th minute with a strong header past Steve Mandanda.
PSG were able to extend their lead in Ligue 1 thanks to fourth-place Saint Etienne’s 2-0 victory against second-place AS Monaco on Saturday. Fabian Lemoine scored on the hosts’ first solid chance on Danijel Subasic’s goal with a fine 17th-minute volley, and Romain Hamouma rebounded a free kick in the 66th minute to seal the victory. Title-contending Monaco came close to getting on the scoreboard several times during the match, but the woodwork and a pair of goal-line clearances were enough to keep Stephane Ruffier’s net empty at the Geoffrey-Guichard.
Here are the results from this weekend’s Ligue 1 action:
Evian Thonon Gaillard 2, Nantes 0
Saint Etienne 2, AS Monaco 0
Lorient 1, Bastia 1
Toulouse 2, Nice 0
Sochaux 2, Bordeaux 0
Stade de Reims 3, Valenciennes 1
Guingamp 2, Stade Rennes 0
Lille 3, Ajaccio 2
Lyon 0, Montpellier 0
Paris Saint-Germain 2, Marseille 0
What did you think of this weekend’s European league action? Think Real Madrid can keep their spot atop La Liga until El Clasico later this month? Impressed with Man City’s comeback against Sunderland? See Arsenal getting back into the title race after their loss at Stoke City?
Share your thoughts below.