Roundup-Barca and Milan win to maintain four-point leads


Sun, 23 Jan 22:29:00 2011

Barcelona and AC Milan both won to stay four points clear at the top in Spain and Italy respectively, Pep Guardiola's team notching their 14th successive La Liga win in the process.

Dimitar Berbatov and Robin van Persie both hit hat-tricks as Manchester United and Arsenal gained ground in the Premier League with convincing wins.


Leaders Barcelona chalked up a 14th straight league victory when they beat Racing Santander 3-0 on Saturday before second-placed Real Madrid kept the gap to four points with a scrappy 1-0 win against visiting Real Mallorca on Sunday. France striker Karim Benzema was given a rare start by Real coach Jose Mourinho and made the most of it with only his second league goal this season.

Pedro, Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta scored Barca's goals as Pep Guardiola's side equalled the club record of 14 straight wins set under Frank Rijkaard when they won a La Liga and Champions League double in the 2005-6 season.

Italy striker Giuseppe Rossi struck twice to give Villarreal a comeback 2-1 win over promoted Real Sociedad on Sunday that lifted them back above Valencia into third, nine points behind Real. Valencia beat Malaga 4-3 on Saturday.


Leaders AC Milan maintained their four-point lead after an own goal and Zlatan Ibrahimovic's stoppage-time strike sealed an edgy 2-0 win over Cesena while second-placed Napoli kept in touch with a 2-0 success at bottom side Bari.

AS Roma went third thanks to a 3-0 victory over Cagliari but their neighbours Lazio lost ground, dropping to fourth after a 3-1 reverse at Bologna.

Champions Inter Milan were beaten 3-1 at Udinese in coach Leonardo's first defeat in six games since taking over, leaving them fifth and nine points behind the leaders.


Dimitar Berbatov and Robin van Persie both hit hat-tricks as Manchester United and Arsenal gained ground in the Premier League with big wins, while Manchester City lost and Tottenham Hotspur drew.

Berbatov's third hat-trick of the season together with goals by Ryan Giggs and Nani gave United a 5-0 home win over a woeful Birmingham City, taking them to 48 points from 22 games.

Van Persie, who also blazed a penalty over the bar, scored all three as Arsenal beat Wigan Athletic 3-0 to move to 46 from 23 games.

City are third on 45 from 24 games after Aston Villa's record signing Darren Bent scored 18 minutes into his debut to secure a 1-0 Villa Park win. Chelsea, who visit Bolton Wanderers on Monday, are fourth on 38.


Leaders Borussia Dortmund dropped two points in their 1-1 draw against VfB Stuttgart but are still 11 points clear at the top with Bayer Leverkusen's 3-1 win over Borussia Moenchengladbach moving them into second spot.

Leverkusen, who have 36 points and were helped by a brace from Argentine Gonzalo Castro, also saw the return to action of Germany captain Michael Ballack, who had spent four months out with a shinbone injury.

Titleholders Bayern Munich crushed Kaiserslautern 5-1 thanks to a Mario Gomez hat-trick to climb to fourth on 33 points, one behind Hanover 96, who lost 1-0 to Schalke 04 with Spaniard Raul's tenth goal of the season.


Chambery Foot, who play in the fifth tier, continued their dream run in the French Cup, reaching the last 16 by claiming another Ligue 1 scalp when they beat Brest on penalties following a 0-0 draw on Saturday.

Only seven Ligue 1 teams will be in the last 16, including holders Paris St Germain and leaders Lille who both saw off amateur sides on Sunday.


Leaders Porto put in a lacklustre performance but bagged a 1-0 away win against Beira Mar to retain their unbeaten record and eight-point lead over Benfica.

Prolific Brazilian forward Hulk scored Porto's winner from the spot after he was brought down in the box in the 25th minute.

Second-placed Benfica raced to a 3-0 lead and then weathered a late comeback from Madeira club Nacional to post a 4-2 home win and keep their title chase alive.


AEK Athens coach Manuel Jimenez blamed the financially-troubled team's limited squad for a humbling 4-0 defeat by Olympiakos Volos in the Greek Super League on Sunday.

AEK, traditionally part of the 'Athens Big Three' with league leaders Olympiakos Pireaus and Panathinaikos, are languishing 18 points off top spot in fourth place.

Olympiakos stretched their lead over champions Panathinaikos to seven points with a 1-0 win at Asteras Tripolis thanks to Spanish midfielder David Fuster's first-half penalty. Panathinaikos could only draw 1-1 at rejuvenated Panionios.


Ajax Amsterdam suffered their first defeat under coach Frank de Boer, losing 3-0 at Utrecht who took control when French winger Edouard Duplan scored twice in three minutes midway through the first half.

Central defender Ismo Vorstermans added a third eight minutes from time.

Ajax, third with 38 points after 20 matches, dropped six points behind leaders PSV Eindhoven, who won 3-0 at VVV Venlo.

Titleholders Twente Enschede stayed one point behind the leaders in second place with a 2-1 win over Groningen thanks to two goals from Austrian Marc Janko.


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