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Rediff News  All News  » Sports » Chelsea, Barcelona cruise

Chelsea, Barcelona cruise

December 06, 2004 10:34 IST

Review of the weekend action in the leading European leagues:


Chelsea maintained the drive for their first title for 50 years when they thrashed Newcastle United 4-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday to stay five points clear of champions Arsenal at the top of the English Premier League.

The top four teams all won with Arsenal beating Birmingham City 3-0 at Highbury, Everton twice coming from behind to beat Bolton Wanderers 3-2 at Goodison Park and Manchester United seeing off Southampton 3-0 at Old Trafford.

With 16 matches played, Chelsea, who scored four goals for the fifth time in seven league matches, lead the standings with 39 points followed by Arsenal (34), Everton (33) and Manchester United (30).

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Bayern Munich lost their two-point lead at the top as they were held to a 2-2 draw at FC Nuremberg in the Bavarian derby and Schalke won the Ruhr derby 1-0 at Borussia Dortmund.

The results left Bayern top only on goal difference with 33 points ahead of Schalke who have won nine of their last 10 matches.

Bayern came from behind to lead 2-1 but Nuremburg salvaged a point when Bayern midfielder Hasan Salihamidzic was sent off for hauling down an opponent and conceding a 74th minute penalty, which Ivica Banovic converted to force the draw.

That ended Bayern's four-match winning streak and was especially bitter as Nuremberg were down to 10 men from the 26th minute when Andy Wolf was dismissed.

Schalke won at Dortmund with Ailton scoring the only goal after 17 minutes.

VfB Stuttgart are third on 30 points after their 5-2 victory over VfL Bochum.

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Olympique Marseille won their first match under new coach Phillipe Trousier with a 3-2 victory at Caen, who were reduced to 10 men after 49 minutes when Cedric Hengbart was sent off.

It was also a good weekend for their southern rivals Monaco and Nice, with the principality side ending a run of eight league matches without a win with a 2-0 home victory over Stade Rennes on Friday and Nice winning 1-0 at Nantes on Saturday.

Champions and leaders Olympique Lyon stretched their unbeaten start to 17 matches, but were frustrated by AC Ajaccio where they were held to a 1-1 draw.

With 17 matches played, Lyon stay top with 37 points, followed by Lille (32), who drew 1-1 at Paris St Germain, and Marseille (28).

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Juventus maintained their four-point lead at the top of Serie A but had to come from behind to beat Lazio on Sunday when they moved on to 35 points from 14 matches.

Goran Pandev put the visitors ahead after 10 minutes, but goals from Ruben Oliveira and Zlatan Ibrahimovic gave Juve victory.

AC Milan stayed second after winning 2-1 at Parma with late goals from Kaka (82) and Andrea Pirlo (89).

Udinese maintained their challenge with a 1-0 home win over Siena while Inter Milan remained unbeaten thanks to their 5-0 victory over visiting Messina, leaving them in sixth place with the curious statistics of three wins and 11 draws from 14 games.

One statistic they did not want, however, was the 49th minute dismissal of goal keeper Francesco Toldo for a wild challenge on a Messina forward when his team were already leading 3-0 thanks to a hat-trick from Adriano.

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Barcelona extended their lead at the top of the Spanish Primera Liga to nine points after they beat a lightweight Malaga 4-0 at the Nou Camp on Saturday before second-placed Real Madrid were held to a disappointing 0-0 draw at Villarreal on Sunday.

Barca's leading scorer Samuel Eto'o took his tally for the season to 12 with a well-taken double. Portugal midfielder Deco scored with a spectacular 25-metre strike and highly-rated youngster Andres Iniesta weighed in with a neat finish.

The victory, Barcelona's seventh in seven home games this season, was in marked contrast to Real's lacklustre performance against Villarreal, who had lost their previous three league games but dominated against their illustrious visitors.

Real, who already seemed to be thinking about next week's decisive Champions League clash against AS Roma, have now been caught by Espanyol, who won 1-0 at Real Zaragoza on Sunday.

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PSV Eindhoven crushed bottom side Graafschap Doetinchem 4-0 and completed 1,110 minutes without conceding a goal to break a 33-year-old Dutch record.

PSV have maintained 12 consecutive clean sheets for the domestic milestone, bettering Ajax's 1,082 minutes in 1971.

PSV stay top with 41 points after 15 matches and travel to fourth-placed Feyenoord next weekend. AZ Alkmaar are second five points behind after beating ADO Den Haag 2-0 on Sunday.

Ajax, who beat RKC Waalwijk 2-1 away on Friday, remain third with 31 points.

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