Barcelona held; Inter Milan continue revival; Lille triumph in cup
Last Updated: January 9, 2012 1:14pm
Real Madrid pulled ahead in emphatic style in the Primera Liga after holders Barcelona could only manage a draw, while, in Italy, AC Milan and Juventus resumed their battle for dominance.
Udinese also kept up with the leading pack in Serie A, while Inter Milan continued their turnaround with another win.
The French, German and Dutch leagues are yet to resume after their winter breaks but the French and Scottish cups provided plenty of action this weekend, with the latest round of the Coupe de France producing several high-profile casualties, including Ligue 1 Toulouse.
Real Madrid stretched their lead at the top of the Primera Liga to five points after thrashing Granada 5-1 on Saturday evening. Karim Benzema grabbed a double at the Bernabeu, while Sergio Ramos and Gonzalo Higuain were also on target. Not one to be upstaged, Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed a late strike to put the gloss on the comfortable win.
Title rivals Barcelona missed a chance to close the gap after they could only manage a 1-1 draw at Espanyol, while fellow high-fliers Valencia were also held at lowly Villarreal.
Rock-bottom Real Zaragoza's woes continued as they slipped to their sixth league defeat on the bounce, going down 1-0 at Racing Santander, while Diego Simeone failed to get off to a winning start as Atletico Madrid manager as his side were frustrated by a goalless draw at Malaga.
AC Milan and Juventus remain neck and neck at the top of the table after both enjoyed away wins on Sunday, while Inter Milan continued their resurgence with a commanding home victory.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted from the penalty spot to give Milan the upper hand at Atalanta, before Kevin-Prince Boateng grabbed a late goal to seal the 2-0 triumph.
Juve kept themselves locked on level points with the leaders after beating Lecce 1-0 thanks to a winner from early substitute Alessandro Matri after he replaced the injured Fabio Quagliarella in the 24th minute.
Udinese kept pace with the leaders, beating Cesena 4-1 at home, while Inter maintained their hot streak after thrashing Parma 5-0 at the San Siro for their fifth win on the bounce.
Coupe de France
Liverpool loanee Joe Cole netted a hat-trick to inspire Lille's 6-0 demolition of French minnows Chantilly on Saturday and fire them into the round of 32.
Carlo Ancelotti's blushes were spared in his first competitive game in charge of Paris St German as they grabbed a stoppage-time winner against lower league Locmine Saint-Colomban to advance.
Not all Ligue 1 sides were as lucky, with Brest, Lorient, Sochaux, Caen and Toulouse among those to bow out, while Nancy and St Etienne tripped up against top-flight opposition.
Old Firm rivals Rangers and Celtic had no trouble advancing to the fifth round of the Scottish Cup, strolling to wins at minnows Arbroath and Peterhead respectively.
Dundee United also progressed in style, inflicting a 6-2 thrashing on second-division Airdrie United.
The all-Scottish Premier League clash between Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Dunfermline Athletic ended in a 1-1 draw to set up a replay at East End Park.
Best of the rest
Benfica leapfrogged FC Porto into the top spot in the Portuguese Primeira Liga after hammering Uniao Leiria 4-0, while the reigning champions could only manage a goalless draw at fellow title hopefuls Sporting Lisbon.
Olympiakos were held to a 0-0 stalemate at Doxa Dramas but retained their lead of the Greek Super League after nearest rivals Panathinaikos also drew.
Galatasaray stretched their lead at the top of the Turkish Super Lig to seven points after pulling off an impressive comeback from 2-0 down to triumph 4-2 at lowly Samsunspor.