All five of the top European leagues were back in action, on a weekend that didn’t spring too many surprises, but rather saw teams assert themselves on their respective titles.

La Liga

Real Madrid recorded an important home victory over Sevilla, jumping into third place in the process. The two sides came into the match equal on points, but a Casemiro stunner followed by a Luka Modrić finish helped Los Blancos come away with the win.

Atlético Madrid had no issues against bottom placed Huesca, winning 3-0. Questions have been asked about Atléti’s ability to score through means other than Antoine Griezmann, but those were put to bed as Lucas Hernández, Santiago Arias and Koke all found the back of the net. Atléti’s five point deficit off the top remains.

Barcelona kicked off the business end of the season with a commanding 3-1 win against Leganés. Ousmane Dembélé got things rolling for Barça, only for his goal to be cancelled out by Martin Braithwaite. However, it was the same old story as arguably the best duo in world football, Luis Suárez and Lionel Messi, both scored to clinch Barça’s first La Liga win of 2019.

Other results

Getafe 4-0 Alavés

Celta de Vigo 1-2 Valencia

Real Betis 3-2 Girona

Villarreal 1-1 Athletic Bilbao

Levante 2-0 Real Valladolid

Rayo Vallecano 2-2 Real Sociedad

Eibar 3-0 Espanyol

 

Bundesliga

Borussia Dortmund made an enormous statement in their 1-0 win away to RB Leipzig. An Axel Witsel goal was enough to secure the points for the yellow and black, who remain six points clear atop the table.

Bayern Munich hardly missed a beat in their trip to Hoffenheim, winning 3-1 and keeping their hopes of a seventh straight title alive. Leon Goretzka bagged a double for Bayern but were given a scare when Nico Schulz pulled one back for the home side. However, a clinical move was finished off by Robert Lewandowski just minutes from time to rule out any chance of a Hoffenheim comeback.

The remaining contender, Borussia Mönchengladbach, recorded their 11th win of the season, overcoming Bayer Leverkusen 1-0. An exquisite finish by Alassane Pléa was the difference between the sides, Mönchengladbach holding on for a gutsy win on the road.

Eintracht Frankfurt remain in the hunt for a Champions League spot after they defeated Freiburg 3-1. A 10-minute burst prior to the interval saw Frankfurt find the back of the net three times, putting the result beyond doubt. Freiburg managed to pull one back late in the second half, but the damage was done.

Other results:

 VfB Stuttgart 2-3 Mainz

FC Augsburg 1-2 Fortuna Düsseldorf

Hannover 96 0-1 Werder Bremen

FC Nürnberg 1-3 Hertha BSC

Schalke 04 2-1 Wfl Wolsburg

 

Premier League

The match of the round saw two London clubs do battle in what could prove to be a season-defining fixture. Arsenal, who had just one win in their last four in the league, were able to conquer Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea 2-0 at the Emirates. An incredible goal from Alexandre Lacazette opened the scoring for the Gunners, before the lead was doubled when Laurent Koscielny remarkably shouldered it past Kepa Arrizabalaga. Arsenal have now closed the gap to three points on their rivals, blowing the race for the top four wide open.

Liverpool survived a huge scare from Crystal Palace, winning a seven-goal thriller at Anfield. Andros Townsend struck first for Palace, but the Reds responded well, taking the lead thanks to goals from Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino. James Tomkins equalised for Palace with a clinical header, but Salah was able to find the net again to put his team ahead. Sadio Mane made sure the points were safe in the 93rd, with Max Meyer’s goal in the 95th proving only to be consolation.

Manchester City put on a clinic against Huddersfield, enjoying a comfortable 3-0 win. Goals to Danilo, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane put a helpless Huddersfield to the sword. The difference in class was obvious as City remain four points off the top, while Huddersfield are 10 points from safety.

Manchester United recorded their seventh straight win under Ole Gunnar Solskjær to continue their climb up the table. Brighton came to Old Trafford hoping to make it consecutive wins against the Red Devils, however two of the most in-form players in the league Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford found the net to open up a two-goal lead. Pascal Groß reduced the deficit, but United held on and are incredibly just 3 points off the top four.

Other results:

Wolverhampton 4-3 Leicester City

Bournemouth 2-0 West Ham

Newcastle 3-0 Cardiff City

Southampton 2-1 Everton

Watford 0-0 Burnley

Fulham 1-2 Tottenham

 

Serie A

Napoli made it two from two against Lazio this season, winning 2-1 at the San Paolo. José Callejón’s opener was added to by an outstanding Arkadiusz Milik free-kick. Ciro Immobile pulled one back from the Roman side but it wasn’t enough, as Napoli held on for their 15th win of the campaign.

Juventus recorded their biggest win of the Serie A season, defeating Chievo 3-0. Douglas Costa scored his first goal of the campaign, as did Emre Can and Daniele Rugani, capping off a clinical performance from the Bianconeri.

Inter failed to beat Sassuolo for the eighth time in nine games, drawing 0-0 at the San Siro. The stalemate means Inter lose further ground on second place, while Sassuolo remain in the hunt for a European spot in 12th.

Milan kicked off 2019 with a crucial win on the road, against a Genoa side who are quickly finding themselves in a relegation battle. The Rossoneri left it late, but goals from Fabio Borini and Suso was enough to secure a 2-0 win. Gennaro Gattuso’s men are beginning to dream of a first Champions League appearance since the 2013/14 season.

Other results:

 Roma 3-2 Torino

Udinese 1-2 Parma

Frosinone 0-5 Atalanta

SPAL 1-1 Bologna

Fiorentina 3-3 Sampdoria

Cagliari 2-2 Empoli

 

Ligue 1

PSG responded to their Coupe de la Ligue exit at the hands of Guingamp, by putting nine past the same side just 10 days later. Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani hattricks were added to by a Neymar brace and a goal from Thomas Meunier, putting PSG’s domestic dominance on full display.

Things seemed on the way up for Monaco, until they were embarrassed 5-1 at home to Strasbourg. Thierry Henry’s men have had an abysmal season and could sensationally be relegated to Ligue 2 just two seasons after winning the Ligue 1 title.

Lyon came from behind to stun St Etienne away from home – Moussa Dembele snatching the winner in the 95th minute. The win sees Lyon jump St Etienne into the third and final Champions League spot.

Other results:

Lille 2-1 Amiens

Nîmes 0-1 Toulouse

Reims 1-1 Nice

Rennes 0-0 Montpellier

Angers 1-0 Nantes

Caen 0-1 Marseille

Bordeaux 1-0 Dijon

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Damon Palmar
damon@footballnationradio.com