European roundup - Real open 10-point gap

London: Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed his sixth hat-trick of the season as Real Madrid sprinted 10 points clear at the top of La Liga with a 4-2 home win over Levante at the weekend.

In the English Premier League, leaders Manchester City remained two points ahead of neighbours Manchester United thanks to a 1-0 victory at Aston Villa.


Real Madrid charged 10 points clear of second-placed Barcelona after Cristiano Ronaldo`s sixth hat-trick of the season helped Jose Mourinho`s side to a 4-2 comeback win at home to 10-man Levante.

Barca crashed to a shock 3-2 defeat at Osasuna, the champions going in 2-0 down at the interval for the first time in a league match since Pep Guardiola took over as coach in 2008 and failing to rescue a point despite a second-half fightback.

Real secured a seventh straight league victory since they were beaten 3-1 by Barca in December. Their 17th win in 18 games put them on 58 points from 22 matches.

Barca are eight points ahead of third-placed Valencia who thumped struggling Sporting Gijon 4-0. Levante are fourth on 32 points, level with fifth-placed Espanyol who lost 2-0 at home to bottom club Real Zaragoza.


Manchester United beat old foes Liverpool 2-1 thanks to two-goal Wayne Rooney but the game will be remembered for Luis Suarez refusing to shake the hand of Patrice Evra, the player he was previously found guilty of racially abusing.

Uruguayan Suarez, who pulled a goal back for the visitors, has since apologised for his behaviour in the Premier League match at Old Trafford.

United`s victory was not enough for them to end the weekend top of the table after Joleon Lescott`s 63rd-minute goal in a 1-0 win at Aston Villa kept Manchester City two points clear.

Third-placed Tottenham Hotspur showed manager Harry Redknapp how much they want him to resist the lure of the vacant England job with a 5-0 rout of Newcastle United while Chelsea lost 2-0 at Everton and Thierry Henry scored Arsenal`s winner in a 2-1 victory at Sunderland.


AC Milan scored two late goals to win 2-1 at Udinese and go top of Serie A.

Antonio Di Natale put Udinese in front with his 17th league goal of the season and they led until the last 13 minutes when Maxi Lopez and Stephan El Shaarawy turned it around for the champions.

Milan, on 47 points from 23 matches, are two ahead of unbeaten Juventus who now have two games in hand after their fixture at Bologna was called off due to a frozen pitch.

Third-placed Lazio won 3-2 against Cesena on Thursday while Inter Milan, in fifth, are 11 points off the pace after losing 1-0 at home to bottom club Novara on Sunday. Claudio Ranieri`s team have taken only one point from their last four matches.


No change at the top of the Bundesliga as Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Borussia Moenchengladbach all won at home without conceding a goal.

Japanese midfielder Shinji Kagawa gave leaders Dortmund a 1-0 triumph over Bayer Leverkusen, taking the champions to 46 points from 21 games and keeping them two points ahead of Bayern.

Mario Gomez, with his 18th league goal of the season, and Thomas Mueller gave Bayern a 2-0 victory over lowly Kaiserslautern while Moenchengladbach stayed a further point behind in third after beating Schalke 04 3-0.

Hertha Berlin sacked coach Michael Skibbe, after he lost all five games in charge, following a 5-0 defeat at VfB Stuttgart.


Leaders Paris St Germain could only manage a 0-0 draw at relegation-threatened Nice to leave Carlo Ancelotti`s side a point above second-placed Montpellier who beat Ajaccio 3-0.

Champions Lille, third in Ligue 1, lost 5-4 at home to Girondins Bordeaux in a remarkable game.

Lille fought back from 4-1 down to draw level only for former player Ludovic Obraniak, who left for Bordeaux last month, to grab a 92nd-minute winner.

Fourth-placed Olympique Lyon prepared for Tuesday`s Champions League last-16 first leg at home to APOEL Nicosia with a morale-sapping 2-1 home defeat by Caen.


PSV Eindhoven (4-1) and AZ Alkmaar (2-0) registered home wins over Graafschap Doetinchem and Excelsior respectively to stay locked together at the top of the championship with 45 points from 21 matches.

A better goal difference means PSV are in first place.

John Guidetti scored his third hat-trick in five matches to inspire fourth-placed Feyenoord to a 3-1 win over Vitesse Arnhem. Heerenveen are third after a 1-0 victory at RKC Waalwijk.

Steve McClaren`s Twente Enschede slipped to fifth after a 3-2 home defeat against neighbours Heracles Almelo.


Panathinaikos stayed top of the Super League after a flurry of late goals sealed a 3-0 home victory over Xanthi at the Olympic Stadium.

Three inspired halftime substitutions sparked a spell of three goals in 12 minutes from Lazaros Christodoulopoulos, Giorgos Karagounis and Antonis Petropoulos.

Panathinaikos have 51 points from 21 matches, two clear of second-placed Olympiakos Piraeus who defeated city rivals AEK Athens 2-0. PAOK Salonika are third after a 2-0 win at OFI Crete.


Spain under-21 international Rodrigo grabbed two goals as Benfica thumped Nacional Madeira 4-1 to stay top of the Premier League with 48 points from 18 matches.

The Lisbon club stormed to victory thanks to a header by Argentine Ezequiel Garay, a tap-in from Paraguay`s Oscar Cardozo and Rodrigo`s double.

Porto, five points adrift in second place, kept up the chase by thrashing Uniao Leiria 4-0.

Bureau Report