Real close on leaders, Man City go top

Tuesday, 14 January 2014 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters: La Liga leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid played out a 0-0 draw in the Spanish capital and third-placed Real Madrid cut the gap with a laboured 1-0 victory at Espanyol. Manchester City moved top of the Premier League with a 2-0 victory at Newcastle United and Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton all won to maintain their title challenges. Juventus won 4-1 at Cagliari to claim their 11th Serie A victory in a row and remain eight points clear at the top of the standings. Spain Real Madrid took advantage of Saturday’s 0-0 draw between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona with an unconvincing 1-0 win at Espanyol on Sunday which closed the gap on the leaders to three points at the halfway stage of the season. Pepe’s 55th-minute header was enough to secure victory at Espanyol’s Cornella-El Prat stadium and third-placed Real have 47 points from 19 matches, three behind Atletico and Barca, who top the table on goal difference. There were few chances in an intense clash between Barcelona and Atletico at the Calderon and not even Barca’s introduction of fit-again Lionel Messi at halftime or Neymar in the second half was enough to break the deadlock. Fourth-placed Athletic Bilbao pulled four points clear of Basque rivals Real Sociedad in fifth following a 6-1 drubbing of promoted Almeria at their new San Mames stadium. Sociedad host sixth-placed Villarreal on Monday. England Manchester City moved top of the Premier League with a 2-0 win at Newcastle United after Chelsea briefly led the standings following a 2-0 victory at Hull City on Saturday. Arsenal slipped to third but can retake the lead by beating Aston Villa on Monday and the goals continued to flow for Liverpool, who are fourth after Luis Suarez scored twice in a pulsating 5-3 win at Stoke City. Manchester City took the lead against Newcastle through Edin Dzeko and made the game safe in stoppage time with a goal by Alvaro Negredo. Chelsea eased past Hull with Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres on target, fifth-placed Everton beat Norwich City 2-0 and champions Manchester United, in seventh, returned to winning ways with a 2-0 home victory over Swansea City. Italy Leaders Juventus stayed eight points clear after coming from behind to win 4-1 at Cagliari, a club record 11th successive league victory. Fernando Llorente scored twice and Claudio Marchisio and Stephan Lichtsteiner also found the net for the champions who have dropped only five points in their first 19 games. Second-placed AS Roma beat Genoa 4-0 and Napoli, in third, won 3-0 at Verona as the top three remained unchanged. Teenager Domenico Berardo scored four goals to help promoted Sassuolo recover from two goals down and beat AC Milan 4-3, writing another unhappy chapter in Milan’s sorry season. France Paris St Germain opened a five-point gap at top of Ligue 1 with a 2-1 comeback win at AC Ajaccio on Saturday after second-placed Monaco could only manage a 1-1 draw at Montpellier. The French champions, now on 47 points from 20 games, prevailed thanks to goals by Ezequiel Lavezzi and Blaise Matuidi, who were both set up by Zlatan Ibrahimovic after Eduardo’s early opener for Ajaccio. Layvin Kurzawa opened the scoring for Monaco but 2012 champions Montpellier hit back through M’Baye Niang, who is on a six-month loan from AC Milan. Lille are third, seven points off the pace, after slumping to a surprise 2-1 home defeat by Stade Reims. Portugal Benfica won a league match against arch-rivals Porto for the first time in more than four years on Sunday, beating them 2-0 on an emotional afternoon marked by tributes to their former forward Eusebio who died last week. Goals in each half from Rodrigo and Ezequiel Garay took Benfica top of the table with 36 points, two ahead of Sporting, who drew 0-0 at Estoril, with champions Porto a further point behind in third.