Manchester United proved that they may have a shout in the title race after all after fighting to a 1-0 win over league leaders Arsenal on Sunday. Robin Van Persie returned to haunt his former employers with a bullet first half header that gave United the victory and cut Arsenal’s lead at the top to only 2 points. The defeat left a sour taste in Arsene Wenger’s men as they fell to only their second league game loss after the opening day defeat to Aston Villa. Liverpool benefited fully from the Gunners’ loss as the Reds tore Fulham into pieces with a comfortable 4-0 win, Luis Suarez grabbing a brace after Martin Skytel rocket header had put the Merseysiders ahead. Chelsea were lucky to pick up a point at Stamford Bridge after they were controversially handed a last minute penalty which Eden Hazard converted for a 2-2 draw against West Brom. Manchester City’s away form took a turn for the worse as they lost 1-0 to struggling Sunderland while Tottenham also lost by the same scoreline to Newcastle. With the league taking a break for international assignments, Arsenal still lead the log with 25 points followed by Liverpool on 23 points. Southampton leapfrogs Chelsea into 3rd place after the Saints’ 4-1 capitulation of Hull City while United have climbed up to 5th.
Atletico Madrid failed to find the back of the net but still left Camp El Madrigal with a point following a 1-1 stalemate with Villareal. An own goal from Villareal’s Mario Gaspar put Madrid ahead but Nigerian international Ikechukwu Uche equalized to ensure the home team snatched a point that left Atletico trailing leaders Barca by 3 points. The Catalans scored twice either side of half time in their 4-1 win over Real Betis with Cesc Fabregas netting a brace. Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick helped Real Madrid run 5-1 winners against Real Sociedad, a victory that moved them to within three points of second-placed Atletico. Almeria collected their 3rd win in a row with a 1-0 win away to Osasuna while Granada continued their rise up the table with a 3-1 win over struggling Malaga.
Bayern Munich broke the German Bundesliga record for the most consecutive games without defeat in their 3-0 win over Augusburg. Jerome Boateng and Franck Ribery had the Bavarians leading 2-0 at the interval. Thomas Muller’s stoppage time penalty just helped improve their goal difference. Borussia Dortmund fell 4 points behind Bayern after they suffered a shock 2-1 defeat at Wolfsburg while Bayer Leverkusen won an 8-goal thriller against Hamburg SV 4-3 to move level on points with Dortmund on 28. Borussia Monchengladbach’s 3-1 victory over Nurnberg helped them consolidate 4th place while Eintracht Braunschweig were the only team who avoided defeat amongst the bottom seven with a barren draw against Hannover 96.
The biggest match of the Serie A weekend saw Juventus welcome high-flying Napoli at the Juventus stadium. With league leaders AS Roma having earlier been restricted to a 1-1 draw at promoted side Sassuolo, Juve and Napoli had the chance to reduce the gap at the top to 1 point. And it was the defending champions Juventus who emerged triumphant with Llorente scoring the opener as early as the 2nd minute. Two 2nd half goals from Andrea Pirlo and Paul Pogba confirmed the 3 points for the Bianconeri. Guiseppe Rossi grabbed a brace for Fiorentina in their 2-1 defeat of Sampdoria in Firenze while Inter Milan welcomed back Javier Zanetti with a 2-0 win over Livorno, Francesco Bardi and Yuto Nagatomo with the goals. AC Milan failed to win for the 4th consecutive time in a dull 0-0 draw at bottomside Chievo with both teams finishing the match with 10 men.
With Sweden poised to meet Portugal in a World Cup qualifier this week, the two nation’s top dogs both netted a hat-trick. Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo scored thrice and assisted one of the goals in Madrid’s 5-1 win while big Swede Zlatan Ibrahimovic also found the back of the net thrice as helped PSG see off the challenge of Nice in a 3-1 win. The victory put the Parisians 4 points ahead as Lille could only secure a barren draw at Guingamp. Monaco scored threw Radamel Falcao in a 1-1 draw with Evian as Olympique Marseille won for the first time in 5 matches, Pierre Gignac netting an 83rd winner from the spot in a 2-1 victory over Sochaux.
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