PHOTOS: Messi, Suarez and other Latin Americans light up Europe
Argentina and Barcelona's Lionel Messi, Uruguay and Liverpool's Luis Suarez, Brazil and Chelsea's Oscar were a few Latin American stars who lit up football stadiums across Europe over the weekend.
Argentinean superstar Lionel Messi's hat-trick blew the Spanish title race wide open as Sunday's ‘El Clasico’ produced a stunning conclusion to a remarkable weekend of action across the continent.
Barcelona's 4-3 victory over Real Madrid in the Bernabeu left La Liga heading for a three-way fight to the finish with Atletico Madrid ending the weekend top of the standings.
Earlier in England, the Premier League witnessed a high-scoring weekend when chasers Liverpool beat Cardiff when Uruguay’s Luis Suarez broke Robbie Fowler’s record with a hat-trick just hours after leaders Chelsea put six past Arsenal.
Rediff.com presents players who shone across Europe over the weekend…
In Spain, Lionel Messi's hat-trick gave Barcelona a 4-3 comeback win against 10-man Real Madrid in a breathtaking Clasico to leave the title race on a knife edge.
Barca took a seventh-minute lead at the Bernabeu through Andres Iniesta before a Karim Benzema double and Messi's first of the night made it 2-2 at the break.
Cristiano Ronaldo put Real ahead from the penalty spot 10 minutes after halftime after he was tripped by Daniel Alves but the match turned when Real skipper Sergio Ramos was sent off for clipping Neymar when he was through on goal.
Messi, the all-time top scorer in 'Clasicos' with 21 goals, tucked home the resulting penalty and struck the winner from the spot six minutes from time after Iniesta was bundled down.
With nine games left, Real have 70 points, level with city neighbours Atletico Madrid who won 2-0 at bottom side Real Betis, and one ahead of third-placed Barca.
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Image: Lionel Messi of Barcelona celebrates scoring his team's fourth goal during their La Liga match against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in Madrid on Sunday
Photographs: Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Oscar shines for Chelsea; Luis nets Livepool record
In England, leaders Chelsea humbled 10-man Arsenal 6-0, Liverpool after a double from Brazilian Oscar.
Other than the six goals and Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger’s 1000th game in charge, the Chelsea-Arsenal game at StamfordBridge was also notable for a bizarre refereeing decision which led to the wrong Arsenal player being sent off.
Later, Luis Suarez bagged a hat-trick as Liverpool came from behind to crush Cardiff City 6-3 and Manchester City's Yaya Toure struck three times to inspire his side to a 5-0 rout of Fulham.
Chelsea lead the table by four points from Liverpool, who have a game in hand, with Man City two points further back but with three matches in hand on the leaders.
Later, ManchesterCity also notched up big wins and United’s Wayne Rooney's spectacular strike from over 50 metres was one of 42 goals scored in England's top flight.
Manchester United striker Rooney opened the scoring against West Ham with an audacious looping shot from near the halfway line to help the champions to a 2-0 win which will put them in good heart for the derby against City on Tuesday.
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Image: Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge (right) celebrates with Luis Suarez after scoring against Cardiff City on Saturday
Photographs: Rebecca Naden/Reuters
Schweinsteiger keeps Bayern on course
In Germany, late goals from Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mario Goetze secured Bayern Munich a league record 18th successive win after beating Mainz 05 2-0 on Saturday.
They maintain their huge lead at the top, having also stretched their league unbeaten run to 51 games. Bayern are a win away from securing their 24th German league title to stay 23 points clear with a maximum 24 still available from the remaining eight games.
They can set a record for the fastest title if they beat Hertha Berlin on Tuesday and clinch the trophy with seven games left.
Fellow Champions League quarter-finalists Borussia Dortmund stayed second after a 3-0 win at Hanover 96, one point ahead of Schalke 04, 3-1 winners over Eintracht Braunschweig.
Bayer Leverkusen lost more ground in their fight for a top three finish after twice coming from a goal down before conceding an 89th minute goal to lose 3-2 to Hoffenheim on Sunday for their fifth defeat in the last six league games.
Frenchman Anthony Modeste tapped in a minute from the end to snatch the winner and leave Leverkusen in fourth place on 44 points, six behind the last automatic Champions League spot, currently held by Schalke 04.
Image: Bayern Munich's Bastian Schweinsteiger celebrates his goal against FSV Mainz 05 during their Bundesliga match in Mainz on Saturday
Photographs: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters
Juve's Tevez still leads goal-scorers list in Serie A
Further towards the Mediterranean, another Argentinean Carlos Tevez helped Juve to a 1-0 win at bottom club Catania with his 16th goal of the season.
Juventus stayed 14 points clear of AS Roma and on course for a third successive Serie A title after both sides won away from home.
Roma won 2-0 at Chievo with first-half goals from Gervinho and Mattia Destro.
Napoli's grip on third place, the Champions League playoff spot, was loosened when they lost 1-0 at home to fourth-placed Fiorentina after Joaquin Sanchez headed an 87th minute winner.
Juventus have 74 points from 29 games and Roma 64 with a game in hand. They are followed by Napoli (58) and Fiorentina (51).
Image: Juventus players celebrate after Carlos Tevez (right) scored against Catania
Photographs: Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images
PSG continue winning momentum
In France, Paris St Germain's march towards a second Ligue 1 title in succession continued when they beat Lorient 1-0 on Friday and second-placed Monaco were held 1-1 at home by Lille on Sunday.
The results left PSG with 73 points with eight matches left, 10 points ahead of Monaco.
PSG were not at their best in Brittany but Thiago Motta's first-half goal was enough for them to secure the points.
In Monaco, Mounir Obbadi's early strike was cancelled out by Vidock Origi's goal six minutes before the break.
Lille stayed third on 54 points, three ahead of St Etienne who beat Sochaux 3-1 on Sunday.
Image: Zlatan Ibrahimovic,centre, of PSG speaks to teammates Thiago Silva and Marquinhos
Photographs: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images