By NICK IUELE
Barcelona figured to face a tough test on Sunday when second-place Atletico Madrid visited the Camp Nou, but Atletico learned what we have known for some time. Stopping Barcelona and Lionel Messi is next to impossible.
Led by a Messi brace, Barcelona scored four unanswered goals to coast to a 4-1 victory against Atletico. Falcao struck first for Atletico in the 31st minute, but Barca would not be held down for long. Adriano equalized five minutes later with a beautiful goal, then Sergio Busquets put the home side up 2-1 just before halftime. Messi closed up shop with two goals in the second half to help Barcelona go nine points clear of the competition in La Liga.
In Italy, Inter Milan fell to Lazio, 1-0, and Bologna shocked Napoli, which fell further behind Juventus in the Serie A table. Miroslav Klose struck down Inter with an 82nd-minute goal for the Roman side, while Daniele Portanova scored at the death to grab an unlikely three points for Bologna. Inter and Napoli are now seven and eight points behind Juventus, respectively.
Queens Park Rangers finally earned their first English Premier League victory of the season with a 2-1 win over Fulham on Saturday. Adel Taarabt’s brace gave QPR all three points for the first time in 17 matches. Before the loss, the club had broke the record for longest winless streak in the EPL.
Here’s a look at the rest of the action from Europe’s top leagues:
Manchester City rebounded from their loss to United last weekend with a 3-1 victory over Newcastle. Sergio Aguero opened the scoring in the 10th minute, while Javi Garcia and Yaya Toure bagged the other two goals. Demba Ba found the net for the home side, but a comeback was not in the cards.
Tottenham pulled off a late 1-0 win over Swansea City. Jan Vertonghen hit the winner in the 75th minute to grab a crucial three points for Spurs. The victory helped the club leap over Everton to fourth place in the Premier League.
English Premier League scoreboard:
Tottenham Hotspur 1, Swansea City 0
West Bromwich Albion 0, West Ham United 0
Manchester City 3, Newcastle 1
Chelsea v Southampton– PPD
Aston Villa 3, Liverpool 1
Manchester United 3, Sunderland 1
Norwich City 2, Wigan Athletic 1
Queens Park Rangers 2, Fulham 1
Stoke City 1, Everton
Monday: Reading v Arsenal
AC Milan took advantage of some losses by top five clubs to gain ground with a 4-1 win over Pescara. Antonio Nocerino scored in the first minute and Stephan El Shaarawy had goals for Milan, while the other two scores were own-goals. Milan has won four matches in a row to pull within six points of third place.
Juventus was able to pull seven points clear of the field with a 3-0 win over Atalanta. Mirko Vucinic, Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio had a goal each in the first half for the title holders. With losses by Lazio and Inter, Juve has a but more breathing room than when they entered the weekend.
Serie A scoreboard:
Fiorentina 4, Siena 1
AC Milan 4, US Pescara 1
Catania 3, Sampdoria 1
Chievo Verona 1, AS Roma 0
Genoa 1, Torino 1
Juventus 3, Atalanta 0
Parma 4, Cagliari 1
Bologna 3, Napoli 2
Udinese 1, Palermo 1
Lazio 1, Inter Milan 0
Real Madrid could not take full advantage of Atletico’s loss as they were held by lowly Espanyol. Sergio Garcia put Espanyol up with a 31st-minute goal, but Cristiano Ronaldo and Fabio Coentrao scored on both side of halftime to give Madrid the lead. Just when it looked like all three points were in the bag for Jose Mourinho’s side, Juan Albin equalized in the 88th minute to salvage a point for the visitors.
Malaga continued their resurgence with a 2-0 win over Sevilla. Martin Demichelis opened the scoring in the 49th minute and Eliseu converted a penalty kick in the 70th to lock up the win. Malaga remains in fourth, five points behind Real Madrid.
La Liga scoreboard:
Levante 1, Real Zaragoza 0
Rayo Vallecano 1, Valencia 0
Real Madrid 2, Espanyol 2
Barcelona 4, Atletico Madrid 1
Getafe 1, Osasuna 1
Athletico Bilbao 1, Mallorca 0
Granada 0, Real Sociedad 0
Malaga 2, Sevilla FC 0
Monday: Deportivo La Coruna v Real Valladolid, Celta Vigo v Real Betis
Borussia Monchengladbach earned an impressive draw against league-leading Bayern Munich on Friday. Thorben Marx drew first blood for Gladbach with a 21st minute converted penalty, but Xherdan Shaqiri equalized in the 59th to salvage a point. The draw didn’t hurt Munich in the standings, as they remain nine points up on the field.
Schalke suffered a devastating 3-1 loss at the hands of Freiburg that dropped the club to seventh in the table. Jefferson Farfan opened the scoring for Schalke in the 20th minute, but a double from Jan Rosenthal and a 32nd minute strike by Jonathan Schmid sent the home side crashing down. The loss also cost Schalke manager Huub Stevens his job.
Borussia Dortmund 3, TSG Hoffenheim 1
Werder Bremen 1, Nurnberg 1
Bayer Leverkusen 3, Hamburg SV 0
Fortuna Dusseldorf 2, Hannover 96 1
Mainz 3, VfB Stuttgart 1
SpVgg Greuther Furth 1, FC Augsburg 1
Eintracht Frankfurt 2, VfL Wolfsburg 0
SC Freiburg 3, Schalke 04 1
Bayern Munich 1, Borussia Monchengladbach 1
Paris Saint-Germain reclaimed the top spot in Ligue 1 with a 1-0 win over Lyon in a battle for top-two clubs. Blaise Matuidi struck in first half stoppage time and that would be all PSG needed to take all three points. Although PSG is on top of the table with a plus-21 goal differential, there is a three-way tie for first on points between PSG, Lyon and Marseille, who beat Toulouse 1-0.
Ligue 1 scoreboard:
AS Nancy Lorraine 1, Bordeaux 1
Lorient 2, St. Etienne 0
Paris St.-Germain 1, Lyon 0
Marseille 1, Toulouse 0
Montpellier 4, Bastia 0
Nice 3, Evian Thonon Gaillard 2
Brest 2, Sochaux 1
Stade de Reims 1, Lille 1
Troyes 3, AC Ajaccio 2
Stade Rennes 2, Valenciennes 0