By JUSTIN FERGUSON
Chelsea entered Selhurst Park on Saturday with a one-point lead in the English Premier League.
But thanks to one own goal and a Liverpool win a day later, the Blues ended the weekend with a two-point deficit to the new league leaders from Merseyside.
Chelsea captain John Terry’s header past teammate Petr Cech was enough to hand Jose Mourinho’s team a devastating 1-0 loss to then-18th-place Crystal Palace. Terry’s own goal put the relegation-fighting home team up in the 52nd minute, and the Chelsea offense were unable to find the target for an equalizer—out of 21 shots, only two of the Blues’ efforts were on Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni’s goal. Fernando Torres had a chance at an equalizer in the 88th minute off a terrible Palace back pass, but the Spanish striker’s effort flew over the frame to put an end to Chelsea’s unbeaten run.
In Spain, first-place Atletico Madrid held onto their narrow lead this weekend when they defeated fourth-place Athletic Bilbao at the new San Mames Stadium. Iker Muniain put hosts Bilbao ahead after just six minutes of action, but Diego Costa came through once again for Atletico with a 22nd-minute equalizer past Gorka Iraizoz.
Koke’s diving header won the match for Atletico in the 55th minute as a frustrated Bilbao offense were unable to take advantage of several opportunities in the dying moments of the match.
Here is a closer look at all the weekend’s action from the top leagues in Europe:
Liverpool claimed the top spot in the EPL on Sunday with a commanding 4-0 win over sixth-place Tottenham Hotspur, who are in danger of losing a European spot this season. The Reds went ahead in the second minute on an own goal from Younes Kaboul, and Luis Suarez doubled his side’s lead in the 25th minute with his 28th goal of the season—which set a new club record for goals in a single campaign. Phillipe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson both got on the score sheet in the second half, putting the Reds back on top of England with six matches to play.
Brendan Rodgers’ club was able to grab first place Sunday because of a 1-1 draw between two fellow title contenders, Manchester City and Arsenal. David Silva put the Citizens, who still have two matches in hand on the rest of the pack, ahead in the 18th minute on a rebound from Edin Dzeko’s post-bound effort. But Arsenal responded well in the second half, grabbing a 53rd-minute equalizer from Mathieu Flamini to end their slide in form and keep their title hopes alive.
Here are the results from this weekend’s English Premier League action:
Manchester United 4, Aston Villa 1
Crystal Palace 1, Chelsea 0
Southampton 4, Newcastle United 0
Stoke City 1, Hull City 0
Swansea City 3, Norwich City 0
West Bromwich Albion 3, Cardiff City 3
Arsenal 1, Manchester City 1
Everton 3, Fulham 1
Liverpool 4, Tottenham Hotspur
Second-place Barcelona maintained their pace behind first-place Atletico Madrid on Saturday with a tight 1-0 road victory against city rivals Espanyol. Barcelona fired 20 shots and had a 72-to-28 percent advantage in possession against their hosts, but it took a disputed handball call in the box to give the defending champions what they needed for a win. Lionel Messi converted once again from the spot in the 77th minute, his third penalty goal in a week with two close rivalry victories for Barcelona.
Third-place Real Madrid got back to their winning ways and grabbed momentum before their Champions League matchup with Borussia Dortmund with a 5-0 drubbing of Rayo Vallecano at the Bernabeu. After Cristiano Ronaldo’s opener in the 15th minute, the Real Madrid came alive with four second-half goals against a Rayo side that entered the match on a solid unbeaten run. Gareth Bale’s brace highlighted the outburst of goals for Real Madrid, who remain three points behind city rivals Atletico in the race for first place.
Here are the results from this weekend’s La Liga action:
Barcelona 1, Espanyol 0
Celta Vigo 1, Sevilla 0
Atletico Madrid 2, Athletic Bilbao 1
Real Madrid 5, Rayo Vallecano 0
Real Valladolid 1, Almeria 0
Osasuna 1, Real Sociedad 1
Villarreal 1, Elche 1
Getafe 3, Valencia 1
Bayern Munich’s lengthy unbeaten run in the Bundesliga stayed intact Saturday, but the newly crowned German champions blew a two-goal lead in a 3-3 draw against Hoffenheim at Allianz Arena. Anthony Modeste put the visitors out in front with a 25th-minute goal, but Claudio Pizarro scored twice and Xherdan Shaqiri added another in the space of 10 minutes to give Bayern a 3-1 lead. Sejad Salihovic pulled one back just before halftime, and Roberto Firmino scored 15 minutes from time for a Hoffenheim side that came close to handing Bayern their first loss in the closing stages of the match.
Second-place Borussia Dortmund fell behind 2-0 to relegation-threatened Stuttgart after the first 20 minutes at the Mercedes-Benz Arena, but Marco Reus responded with a hat trick for a 3-2 Dortmund road victory. Christian Gentner and Martin Harnik scored quickly to have the host dreaming of a crucial three points in their fight to avoid the drop. However, Reus struck at the half-hour mark, converted a 68th-minute penalty and netted a winner eight minutes from time to complete a remarkable Dortmund comeback.
Here are the results from this weekend’s Bundesliga action:
Schalke 2, Hertha Berlin 0
Bayer Leverkusen 1, Eintracht Braunschweig 1
Bayern Munich 3, Hoffenheim 3
Mainz 3, Augsburg 0
Borussia Dortmund 3, Stuttgart 2
Wolfsburg 2, Eintracht Frankfurt 1
Freiburg 3, Nurnberg 2
Borussia Monchengladbach 3, Hamburg 1
Werder Bremen 2, Hannover 1
First-place Juventus’ 22-match unbeaten run in Serie A came to an end Sunday in Naples as third-place Napoli handed the defending champions a 2-0 loss. Juve’s second loss of the league season started with a Jose Maria Callejon goal in the 37th minute, which came in the midst of a back-and-forth first half at the San Paolo. The visitors responded with a strong second half that featured several close chances on goal, but Dries Mertens put the match out of reach in the 81st minute with a perfect strike into the top corner of Gianluigi Buffon’s net.
Second-place AS Roma have a chance to make the Serie A title race interesting after a 2-0 victory at Sassuolo on Sunday. Mattia Destro’s 16th-minute chip of Sassuolo goalkeeper Gianluca Pegolo appeared to be the match’s only goal for the longest time, but Michel Bastos added a second goal deep into second-half stoppage time to seal the victory for Roma. The capital club still trail Juventus by 11 points, but they still have a match in hand on the leaders and boast an unbeaten record at the Stadio Olimpico this season.
Here are the results from this weekend’s Serie A action:
Atalanta 2, Bologna 0
AC Milan 3, Chievo Verona 0
AS Roma 2, Sassuolo 0
Hellas Verona 3, Genoa 0
Lazio 3, Parma 2
Sampdoria 0, Fiorentina 0
Torino 2, Cagliari 1
Napoli 2, Juventus 0
It was another week, another tight domestic victory for first-place Paris Saint-Germain. The defending Ligue 1 champions won 1-0 at Nice Friday on an own goal to pull 13 points ahead of second-place AS Monaco, who lost 1-0 to Evian Thonon Gaillard this weekend. Edinson Cavani forced an own goal from Nice defender Thimothée Kolodzieczak in the 52nd minute, and the deflected strike was enough to send PSG to their Champions League quarterfinal with Chelsea in a winning fashion.
Fourth-place Saint Etienne gained an important win in their hunt for Champions League qualification with a 2-1 victory at third-place Lyon, who now lead by just three points in the league table. Melvut Erding put Saint Etienne ahead in the 28th minute, but Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette struck a perfect volley past Stephane Ruffier for an equalizer 11 minuets later. Max-Alain Gredel was the hero for the visitors in the 74th minute, slapping home a match-winner for a Saint Etienne side that managed to hang onto its lead in the dying moments.
Here are the results from this weekend’s Ligue 1 action:
Paris Saint-Germain 1, Nice 0
Sochaux 1, Marseille 1
AC Ajaccio 2, Toulouse 2
Evian Thonon Gaillard 1, AS Monaco 0
Montpellier 0, Valenciennes 0
Nantes 0, Bordeaux 0
Stade de Reims 1, Lorient 1
Stade Rennes 3, Bastia 0
Lille 1, Guingamp 0
Saint Etienne 2, Lyon 1
What did you think of this weekend’s European league action? Think Chelsea will be able to recover from their shocking loss at Crystal Palace? Do you see Atletico Madrid keeping their lead above Barcelona and Real Madrid in La Liga? Which other results caught your eye this weekend?
Share your thoughts below.