European review

Real retain lead; Ranieri clings on; Dortmund move clear at the top

Gonzalo Higuain: The striker bagged a brace as Real Madrid maintained their 10-point lead in La Liga

Borussia Dortmund: Stretched their lead in the Bundesliga to seven points while Bayern Munich slipped up

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Gonzalo Higuaín inspired Real Madrid with two goals as Jose Mourinho's side maintained their 10-point lead over Barcelona in the Primera Liga.

Diego Milito salvaged a point for Inter Milan and may have kept Claudio Ranieri in a job as they ended a five-game losing streak in Serie A, while AC Milan stretched their lead at the top to three points.

Paris Saint Germain are the new leaders of Ligue 1, Borussia Dortmund are seven points clear in the Bundesliga and AZ have emerged as the latest side to top the Eredivisie.

Primera Liga

Real Madrid have now scored 54 goals in just 13 home games after another demolition over the weekend, as Mourinho's men brushed aside Espanyol with a 5-0 win, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Sami Khedira, Kaka and Higuain the goalscorers.

Their 10th league win in a row added another telling blow to Barcelona's fading title hopes, despite the current champions beating Sporting Gijón 3-1.

At the other end of the division, Real Zaragoza provided their fans with some hope of avoiding the drop while dragging Villarreal into the dogfight with a 2-1 win over the Yellow Submarine.

Serie A

There were reports of Claudio Ranieri being on the verge of being sacked before Inter Milan's game with Catania, and his side were 2-0 down with 20 minutes to go.

But goals from Diego Forlan and Diego Milito earned Inter a point, while their bitter rivals AC Milan moved further ahead at the summit.

The Rossoneri were helped by another ruthless performance from in-form striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who bagged a hat-trick against Palermo in a 4-0 win, while second-placed Juventus dropped points at home to Chievo with a 1-1 draw.


Borussia Dortmund stretched their unbeaten run to 18 games with a 2-1 win over Mainz 05 but, more importantly, took advantage of Bayern Munich's defeat at Bayer Leverkusen.

Leverkusen won 2-0 at home, gaining ground on Schalke 04 and Borussia Monchengladbach who lost to Freiburg and Nurnberg respectively.

Hertha's fifth win of the season against Werder Bremen was enough to see them move out of the bottom three, while Augsberg slumped into the drop zone despite a creditable draw at Hannover 96.

Ligue 1

Jonathan Tinhan's late equaliser at Dijon on Saturday evening handed Montpellier a point in the race for the French title.

But Paris Saint Germain, playing 24 hours later, took advantage of Montpellier's dropped points by comprehensively beating Ajaccio at the Parc des Princes.

Any club from 10th place and lower in Ligue 1 has a realistic chance of being relegated this season and Ajaccio's defeat to PSG, coupled with a 2-1 win for Nice at Bordeaux, means they are now in the relegation zone.


There is a similar tussle for the title in Holland's top division, with the top six sides separated by just five points.

AZ have leapfrogged PSV Eindhoven to take the lead of the league after a 2-1 win over Heracles, while Twente also jumped into second placed with a remarkable 6-2 win at PSV, despite the visitors having 10 men for almost half the game.

Ajax and Feyenoord also won to keep the pressure on the top sides, but Heerenveen lost ground with a 0-0 draw at ADO Den Haag.


Celtic's 17-game winning run in the Scottish Premier League finally came to an end as the Bhoys drew 1-1 at Aberdeen.

But they still managed to extend their lead to 21 points over second-placed Rangers as their troubled rivals fell to a 2-1 defeat against Hearts.

After Ally McCoist's side were deducted 10 points, third-placed Motherwell are now eying second spot and are just three points behind after winning 2-0 at Dunfermline.

Best of the rest

After over three months without any competitive action, the Russian Premier League resumed on Saturday following a winter break and did not witness an away win.

Lokomotiv Moscow, Volga and Terek Grozny all recorded home victories, while Zenit held CSKA Moscow to a 2-2 draw.

The top two met in Portugal's Primeira Liga on Friday night, with Porto taking top spot thanks to a dramatic late winner against Benfica, who had a man sent off.

RankingPlayerTeamCompetitionRating (10)Key stats
1Zlatan IbrahimovicAC MilanSerie A10Scored his 2nd Serie A hat-trick, netting 3 goals within 14 minutes
2Gonzalo HiguaínReal MadridLa Liga10Scored two goals, made two assists
3Eden HazardLilleLigue 110Scored a brace from his six shots, completed 80 passes out of 95 attempted
4Giuseppe SculliGenoaSerie A10Scored his 3rd Serie A brace (the 2nd in this campaign)
5Eduardo SalvioAtlético de MadridLa Liga10Made five shots on target, scored a goal
6Nenê Paris Saint GermainLigue 110Scored a goal and assisted another
7Pavel PogrebnyakFulhanPremier League10Scored his first ever Premier League hat-trick
8Diego ForlánInternazionaleSerie A9Scored a goal (his 1st in Serie A since September) made an assist
9Andrés IniestaBarcelonaLa Liga9Scored a goal and assisted another
10Lukas PodolskiFC KölnBundesliga9Attempted three shots, scored a goal