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Football | Europe

Barcelona © Gallo Images

Man United, Bayern, Barca roll on



Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Barcelona cemented their commanding positions at the top of their respective leagues with victories over the weekend.

ENGLAND

Manchester United ruthlessly beat Everton 2-0 on Sunday to move 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League following champions Manchester City's shock 3-1 loss at Southampton on Saturday.

Ryan Giggs and Robin van Persie struck in the first half for United who are in a commanding position to win their 20th league title with 12 matches left.

City trailed 2-0 at struggling Southampton but Edin Dzeko pulled one back before halftime, only for Gareth Barry's bizarre own goal to restore the home side's two-goal cushion.

Third-placed Chelsea beat Wigan Athletic 4-1 to ease the pressure on interim manager Rafa Benitez and Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal also won to stay in the hunt for Champions League places.

Southampton moved four points clear of the relegation zone and Aston Villa climbed out of the bottom three after beating West Ham United 2-1. Queens Park Rangers remained four points adrift at the foot of the standings following a 4-1 defeat at Swansea City.

SPAIN

Barcelona moved 12 points clear at the top of the Primera Liga when they crushed Getafe 6-1 at the Nou Camp and second-placed Atletico Madrid were beaten 2-1 at Rayo Vallecano on Sunday.

Barca forward Lionel Messi scored his 35th of the campaign and Alexis Sanchez and David Villa made the most of a rare place in the starting lineup with a goal apiece.

Atletico's lead over third-placed Real Madrid was cut to four points after the champions thumped visiting Sevilla 4-1 on Saturday.

Real forward Cristiano Ronaldo warmed up in style for Wednesday's Champions League last 16 first leg at home to his former club Manchester United with a hat-trick and an assist.

Malaga cemented their grip on fourth with a 2-1 comeback win at Levante on Saturday, promising playmaker Isco scoring twice to crown the week when he made his debut for Spain in a 3-1 friendly win against Uruguay.

GERMANY

Leaders Bayern Munich are cruising towards their first Bundesliga title since 2010 after crushing Schalke 04 4-0 to open up a 15-point lead.

Left back David Alaba scored either side of a sensational Bastian Schweinsteiger free kick with Mario Gomez, starting ahead of top scorer Mario Mandzukic, drilling in the fourth as Bayern made it four straight wins this year without conceding a goal.

Champions Borussia Dortmund suffered a shock 4-1 home loss to Hamburg SV but hung on to second place on 39 points, with Bayer Leverkusen missing the chance to go second after conceding a late equaliser in their 3-3 draw at Borussia Moenchengladbach.

ITALY

Juventus increased their lead at the top of Serie A to five points when they beat Fiorentina 2-0 and second-placed Napoli were held to a 1-1 draw at third-placed Lazio.

Mirko Vucinic and Alessandro Matri scored in the first half for titleholders Juventus, taking them on to 55 points from 24 games.

Napoli trailed for most of their match, Hugo Campagnaro grabbing a point in the 87th minute after Sergio Floccari scored in 11th minute for Lazio who are a further six points back in third.

Inter Milan's 3-1 win over Chievo left them one point behind Lazio in fourth whilst Mario Balotelli scored a late penalty for the second game in a row to salvage a 1-1 draw for AC Milan at Cagliari.

FRANCE

Paris St Germain moved six points clear at the top of the Ligue 1 table by beating Bastia 3-1 while their main rivals in the title race, Olympique Lyon, collapsed to a home loss to Lille by the same score.

PSG, level with Lyon 10 days ago, have 51 points from 24 games with the seven-times French champions on 45 after their second successive defeat.

Third-placed Olympique Marseille are two points behind after a 1-1 draw at Evian Thonon Gaillard in which they conceded a penalty and had Kassim Abdallah and Jordan Ayew sent off in the second half.

Marseille, who occupy a Champions League qualifying spot, are three points ahead of fourth-placed St Etienne, who better copped with their snow-covered pitch to beat Montpellier 4-1, and Stade Rennes in fifth thanks to their 2-0 home victory over Toulouse.

NETHERLANDS

Feyenoord teenagers Jean Paul Boetius and Tonny Vilhena were on target in a 3-1 home win over AZ Alkmaar which put them three points behind leaders PSV Eindhoven.

PSV were held to a 2-2 draw by Vitesse Arnhem, with a late double from Wilfred Bony, while Ajax Amsterdam and Twente Enschede also dropped points.

Ajax came from behind in a 1-1 home draw against Roda JC Kerkrade, while Twente remained winless in 2013 following a 1-1 draw at lowly PEC Zwolle.

PORTUGAL

Portuguese Premier League joint-leaders Porto and Benfica stumbled to draws against Olhanense and Nacional da Madeira respectively to keep the title race finely balanced.

Porto were held 1-1 at home, with Colombia striker Jackson Martinez levelling in the second half but then missing from the penalty spot. The champions pressed on but failed to break Olhanense and their inspired keeper Rafael Bracalli.

Benfica threw away a 2-1 lead and had influential Paraguay striker Oscar Cardozo and holding midfielder Nemanja Matic sent off in an eventful 2-2 draw in the Atlantic island of Madeira.

Porto and Benfica lead with 46 points from 18 matches, 15 ahead of third-placed Pacos de Ferreira.

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