Liverpool ended their bogey run against Southampton by claiming a 3-0 success at the St. Mary’s, their first since 2003. The victory helped the Reds leapfrog Manchester City and Arsenal into the second position in the race for the Barclays Premier League title. The Merseyside outfit scored through Luis Suarez, Raheem Sterling and captain Steven Gerard to move to within 4 points of league leaders Chelsea who cemented their top position with a 3-1 win at Fulham earlier in the day. Andre Schurrle became the third German to hit a hat-trick in the Premier League as he scored all the three goals in the West London derby. Irish international Jonathan Walters converted a 76th minute penalty to lead Stoke to a 1-0 win over Arsenal who dropped to third on the log while Tottenham piled more misery on relegation-threatened Cardiff City with a solitary goal win from Roberto Soldado. Christian Benteke netted a brace for Aston Villa in their 4-1 win over Norwich City.
The biggest match of the weekend, the Madrid derby, pitting league leaders Real Madrid and city rivals Atletico Madrid ended on a 2-2 stalemate. Karim Benzema gave visiting Real Madrid fans something to cheer about in as early as the 3rd minute when he side footed a cross from Angel Di Maria into the back of the net but their lead lasted for only 25 minutes as Koke drew the home team level with a lovely finish from inside Real’s penalty area. Diego Simeone’s side then took the lead just before the interval, captain Gabi thundering in a pile driver past a helpless Diego Lopez but an 82nd goal from Cristiano Ronaldo ensured the spoils were shared. Barcelona took full advantage of the shared points between the two Madrid teams by thundering past Almeria 4-1 to reduce the gap between them and leaders Real to one point. Alexis Sanchez, Lionel Messi, Carles Puyol and Xavi were all on the scoresheet for Pep Guardiola’s men. Champions League-chasing Athletico Bilbao hit Granada 4-0 while Levante and Sevilla were only other teams who registered victory among the teams in the top 10 with 2-0 and 1-0 wins over Osasuna and Real Sociedad respectively.
League leaders Bayern Munich edged closer to retaining their Bundesliga title with a resounding 5-1 win over Schalke 04 at the Allianz Arena in Munich. Dutchman Arjen Robben hit a sublime hat-trick with Mario Mandzukic and David Alaba also finding the back of the net for the unbeatable Bavarians who ensured the gap at the top is kept at 20 points with only 33 points remaining for contention. Borussia Dortmund went back to winning ways with a 3-0 humbling of visiting Nurnberg but there was more despair for Sami Hyypia’s Bayern Munchen who went down 1-0 to visiting Mainz. Hoffenheim were the biggest winners of the Bundesliga matchday 23 as they Wolfsburg 6-2 to end coach Dieter Hecking side’s three-game winning run. Werder Bremen put a huge dent on Hamburger’s survival hopes with a 1-0 win while Stuttgart’s poor run when they lost 2-1 at Eintracht Braus, their 8th loss in a row.
AC Milan gave a spirited fight but wasted too many chances against Juventus who claimed three points at the San Siro with a 2-0 success. The Rossoneri had one too many chances to put the game beyond Juventus’ reach even before half time but poor finishing was their main undoing as the Old Lady took the lead a minute before the interval courtesy of Fernando Lllorente. Carlos Tevez netted his 15th goal of the season 8 minutes after the hour mark to secure the points for the run-away Serie A leaders. Second and third-placed AS Roma and Napoli both lost points, the former involved in barren draw against Inter Milan while the latter drew 1-1 at Livorno. Parma’s push for Europa League continued when they nicked Sassuolo 1-0 while Cagliari gave themselves some breathing space from the relegation zone with a 3-0 thrashing of Udinese.
Edison Cavani scored on his return from injury as league leaders PSG continued to push for their 4th Ligue 1 title with a 2-0 win over Olympique Marseille. The Argentine netted in the 79th minute after Maxwell had put the defending champions in the lead five minutes after the restart. Monaco lost ground in the title chase losing 2-0 at Saint Etienne who are pushing for Champions League football. Lille edged out Ajaccio 3-2 in a five-goal thriller with Salomon Kalou grabbing a hat-trick and Gadji Tallo netting the two goals for the rock bottom Ajaccio.
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