Atletico Madrid go on top as Barcelona and Real Madrid stumble


LONDON:  Atletico Madrid thrashed Real Sociedad to go top of La Liga as Barcelona suffered a shock home defeat by Valencia and Real Madrid were held to a draw by Athletic Bilbao. Arsenal returned to the top in England after beating Crystal Palace, but there was more misery for champions Manchester United who lost to Stoke City. Bayern Munich demolished Eintracht Frankfurt 5-0 in Germany and Paris St Germain went five points clear in France by beating Girondins Bordeaux.
Spain: Atletico Madrid took advantage of Barcelona’s slip-up at home to Valencia to go top of La Liga with a 4-0 victory over Real Sociedad as Real Madrid drew 1-1 at Athletic Bilbao. Atletico, whose goals were scored by David Villa, Diego Costa, Miranda and new signing Diego, opened up a three-point lead at the summit after Barcelona lost 3-2 to Valencia on Saturday. Real Madrid were held 1-1 by Bilbao, with world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo sent off in the second half following an altercation with Athletic players.
England: Arsenal went back to the top of the Premier League, at least until Manchester City play Chelsea on Monday, when they overcame a stubborn Crystal Palace 2-0 at the Emirates on Sunday. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has missed five months of the season with a knee injury, scored twice for the Gunners who lead City by two points. Champions Manchester United had another bad day on Saturday when they lost 2-1 at Stoke City to remain in seventh place, 15 points behind Arsenal. Everton maintained their push for a top-four finish with a late 2-1 win over Aston Villa and fourth-placed Liverpool drew 1-1 at West Bromwich Albion.
Italy: Leaders Juventus showed no signs of letting up as they overpowered bitter rivals Inter Milan 3-1 to chalk up their 11th straight home win in Serie A this season. Stephan Lichtsteiner, Giorigo Chiellini and Arturo Vidal put Juventus three goals ahead in less than one hour before Rolando pulled one back for sorry Inter, who have not won a league match since the Christmas break. Juventus have 59 points, nine ahead of AS Roma whose match at home to Parma was abandoned after eight minutes because of a waterlogged pitch. Third-placed Napoli stayed a further six points behind after a catalogue of defensive errors led them to a 3-0 defeat at Atalanta.
France: Paris St Germain extended their lead over Monaco to five points, but suffered an injury blow as Edinson Cavani was ruled out for three weeks ahead of next week’s clash between the top two. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alex were on target in a 2-0 home victory against Girondins Bordeaux that moved PSG up to 54 points from 23 games as Yohan Cabaye made a winning debut two days after he joined from Newcastle United. Cavani suffered a thigh injury with 15 minutes left and is expected to miss this month’s Champions League last-16 first leg at Bayer Leverkusen. Monaco full back Layvin Kurzawa found the net for the fourth consecutive away game three minutes from time to rescue a 2-2 draw at Lorient.
Germany: Rampant Bayern Munich continued their progress towards a second successive Bundesliga title with a 5-0 demolition of Eintracht Frankfurt. Mario Goetze, Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Dante and Mario Mandzukic shared the goals as Bayern made it 10 wins out of 10 at home in the league this season and stayed 13 points clear of Bayer Leverkusen. Pep Guardiola’s side, unbeaten in the league since October 2012, a run of 44 matches, have 53 points after having won 17 and drawn two of their 19 games. A late goal by Eren Derdiyok gave Leverkusen a 2-1 win over VfB Stuttgart and third-placed Borussia Dortmund beat Eintracht Braunschweig by the same score.
Portugal: Leading trio Benfica, Sporting and Porto all failed to win. Leaders Benfica (40) points were held 1-1 at Gil Vicente, taking the lead through a Lima penalty before Vitor Goncalves replied for the hosts Sporting (38) were held 0-0 at home by Academica Coimbria and Porto (36) slumped to a 1-0 defeat against Maritimo in Madeira, where Derley scored with a 13th-minute penalty.
Greece: Champions Olympiakos extended their lead over PAOK Salonica at the top of the Greek Super League to 14 points after coming from behind to beat Panaitolikos 2-1. Veteran Senegalese striker Henri Camara opened the scoring for Panaitolikos after five minutes, but Olympiakos equalised through Nigerian forward Michael Olaitan and won the game courtesy of a 71st-minute penalty from on-loan Arsenal midfielder Joel Campbell. PAOK lost ground by losing 2-1 at Platanias despite going ahead through Greece striker Stefanos Athanasiadis. Platanias equalised against the run of play through Aleksandar Kataj and David Torres grabbed a winner. Fourth place Panathinaikos drew 1-1 at OFI Crete on Saturday. Viktor Klonaridis put the Greens ahead, but they were pegged back by a Ze Eduardo penalty four minutes from time. 

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