Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By IAN HOLLIDAY
If Manchester United wins a record 19th English title this May, it won't be because Liverpool surrendered the honor.
The Reds put on an impressive show in defeating their arch-rivals 3-1on Sunday. Dirk Kuyt had a hat-trick and January signing Luis Suarez had a hand in all three goals as Liverpool's attack wreaked havoc with Man United's second-choice central defenders Wes Brown and Chris Smalling.
The loss doesn't change United's position in the table, but it complicates the Red Devils' road to the title, leaving Arsenal within three points of the league lead with a game in hand. The title is still United's to lose, but a May 1 trip to the Emirates will give the Red Devils ample opportunity to do so.
Elsewhere this weekend, AC Milan used Gennaro Gattuso's first goal in three years to secure a 1-0 win over Juventus and maintain a five point lead in Serie A. Milan's derby rivals Inter kept pace with a 5-2 thrashing of Genoa in which it scored all five goals after the 50th minute.
The match of the week in Germany was the battle for third place between Hannover 96 and Bayern Munich. The club captained by American Steve Cherundolo put some distance between it and Bayern with a 3-1 win.
Here is a rundown of all the weekend scores from Europe's top leagues:
All of a sudden, West Ham United is out of the drop zone. After spending much of the season in last place and nearly all of it in one of the Premier League's three relegation places, the Hammers have won three straight to climb to 31 points, good for 17th in the league. On Saturday, the club looked almost dominant in its 3-0 victory over Stoke City, controlling 57 percent of the possession and outshooting the potters 23-9. Taking West Ham's place in the drop zone is Carling Cup winner Birmingham City, which fell 3-1 to fellow strugglers West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. Just three points now separate 13th from 18th, so few clubs in the bottom half of the table will feel safe at this point in the season.
Liverpool 3, Manchester United 1
Wolverhampton Wanderers 3, Tottenham 3
Birmingham City 1, West Bromwich Albion 3
Arsenal 0, Sunderland 0
Bolton 3, Aston Villa 2
Fulham 3, Blackburn 2
Newcastle United 1, Everton 2
West Ham United 3, Stoke City 0
Manchester City 1, Wigan Athletic 0
Monday: Blackpool v. Chelsea
If there is a formula to beat Barcelona, it may be the one used by the USA to beat Spain in the 2009 Confederations Cup: Defend with 10 men behind the ball, get some heroic goalkeeping, and be sure to score on the one or two chances you get in the game. The problem with this formula, which Switzerland also used effectively against Spain in the World Cup, is that if the team employing it doesn't convert its chances into goals, or has even a momentary lapse at the back, it's doomed. That's what happened to Real Zaragoza on Saturday at Camp Nou. The visitors happily conceded 82 percent of the possession to Barca, opting to park the bus in front of the net and rely on 'keeper Toni Doblas, who made 11 outstanding saves in the match. Unfortunately for Zaragoza, the club's back line allowed Lionel Messi to get to the end line and pull the ball back across the face of goal for Seydou Keita to poke it home. The visitors then squandered their only real chance of the game when Florent Sinama-Pongolle had his break-away effort saved by Victor Valdes.
Hercules 1, Almeria 2
Levante 1, Espanyol 0
Malaga 0, Osasuna 1
Sporting Gijon 2, Getafe 0
Athletic Bilbao 2, Sevilla 0
Racing Santander 1, Real Madrid 3
Mallorca 1, Valencia 2
Barcelona 1, Real Zaragoza 0
Atletico Madrid 3, Villarreal
Monday: Deportivo La Coruna v. Real Sociedad
Inter Milan has been on a hot streak since firing Rafa Benitez and replacing him with Leonardo, but Inter's run up the table has coincided with another club's Serie A climb. Udinese hasn't lost since the Italian league came back from its winter break on Jan. 6. The club is 8-0-3 in that time, and has climbed within a point of Lazio for the Serie A's final Champions League place. Udinese's 1-0 victory over Bari on Sunday was less impressive than its 7-0 demolition of Palermo last week, but it still counts the same in the standings, and it brings the club to an even 50 points on the season.
Sampdoria 2, Cesena 3
Bologna 2, Cagliari 2
Chievo 0, Parma 0
Fiorentina 3, Catania 0
Inter Milan 5, Genoa 2
Napoli 0, Brescia 0
Udinese 1, Bari 0
Lazio 2, Palermo 0
Juventus 0, AC Milan 1
Lecce 1, AS Roma 2
Not only did Hannover's victory against Bayern solidify the club's position in the Bundesliga, the win also kept it two points off the pace of Bayer Leverkusen for second place. Hannover now has 47 points, while Leverkusen has 49. Next week, Hannover will have the chance to pull provisionally into second place on Friday with a win over mid-table Cologne. Leverkusen has a much more difficult task next week when it travels to Mainz on Sunday. Neither Cherundolo's club nor any of its rivals for Champions League qualification is likely to catch Borussia Dortmund for the Bundesliga title, but the league's runner-up spot is an important one, because it grants automatic entry into the Champions League group stage.
SC Freiburg 1, Werder Bremen 3
Hamburg 2, Mainz 05 4
Borussia Moenchengladbach 2, Hoffenheim 0
Eintracht Frankfurt 0, Kaiserslautern 0
Hannover 96 3, Bayern Munich 1
Nurnberg 5, St. Pauli 0
VfB Stuttgart 1, Schalke 04 0
Bayer Leverkusen 3, VfL Wolfsburg 0
Borussia Dortmund 1, FC Cologne 0
This weekend was a tale of two days in France. On the first day, Saturday, it seemed almost impossible for anyone to score. Only four goals were scored in seven matches, producing four 1-0 victories and three scoreless draws. On the second day, Sunday, only hapless Arles couldn't find the back of the net, and just three games produced 12 goals, three times the league's Saturday output. Leading the way was Lyon, which dropped Arles 5-0 to climb back up to third in Ligue 1. Also on Sunday, leaders Lille defeated Marseille 2-1 and Bordeaux downed Brest 3-1.
Brest 1, Bordeaux 3
Lyon 5, Arles 0
Marseille 1, Lille 2
Caen 1, St. Etienne 0
Lorient 0, AS Nancy Lorraine 0
Montpellier 0, Stade Rennes 1
Nice 0, Lens 0
Toulouse 0, Sochaux 1
Valenciennes 0, AS Monaco 0
AJ Auxerre 1, Paris St. Germain 0
What did you think of this weekend's results? Think Arsenal has a chance to catch Man United? Rooting for Hannover to hold onto a Champions League spot?
Share your thoughts below.