Juventus’ lead in Serie A was cut to five points after the defending champion slipped to a 2-1 home defeat against Sampdoria. Barcelona beat Espanyol 4-0 to move 11 points clear atop Spanish soccer’s La Liga.
Sebastian Giovinco gave Juventus a halftime lead yesterday with a penalty, before Sampdoria rallied in the second half with two goals from Emanuel Icardi. Second-place Lazio beat Cagliari 2-1 two days ago.
Inter Milan and Fiorentina failed to take advantage of Juventus’ slip as both were also beaten in the first round of games after the mid-season break. Inter slumped to a 3-0 loss at Udinese and Fiorentina was defeated 2-0 by visiting Pescara.
Edinson Cavani scored a hat trick as Napoli beat Roma 4-1 last night to move into third place above Inter and Fiorentina with 37 points through 19 games. Juventus tops the standings with 44 points ahead of Lazio.
Among other games yesterday, AC Milan beat Siena 2-1 and Genoa boosted its fight against relegation with a 2-0 victory against Bologna.
Barcelona stretched its lead atop La Liga by scoring four first-half goals against Catalan rival Espanyol as second-place Atletico Madrid drew 1-1 at Mallorca.
Xavi Hernandez opened the scoring for Barca at the Camp Nou yesterday before Pedro Rodriguez got two goals. Lionel Messi, who’s the bookmakers’ favorite to win his fourth straight FIFA world player of the year award today, added the fourth from the penalty spot.
Barca coach Tito Vilanova was able to return to the dugout after cancer surgery. His team has dropped only two points this season and remains unbeaten through 18 games with 52 points.
Defending champion Real Madrid, which is 16 points off the lead in third place, recovered from goalkeeper Antonio Adan’s sixth-minute red card to defeat Real Sociedad 4-3.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who along with Barca’s Messi and Andres Iniesta is on the three-player shortlist for FIFA’s Ballon d’Or award, got two goals for Madrid.
Karim Benzema and Sami Khedira also scored, while Xabier Prieto got all the goals for Sociedad, who had Daniel Estrada sent off in the 79th minute for a second yellow card.
Domingos Paciencia started his tenure as Deportivo La Coruna coach with a 1-0 win against fourth-place Malaga two days ago that lifts his team off the bottom of the standings. Osasuna slips to 20th spot following a 1-0 loss at Sevilla.
The French, German and Dutch leagues are yet to return after their mid-season breaks.
Lyon, one of three clubs tied on points atop France’s Ligue 1, was upset by third division club Epinal in the French Cup’s round of 64 yesterday. After a 3-3 tie, the defending cup champion lost 4-2 on penalties.
WEEKEND RESULTS =============== Spain: Real Zaragoza 1-2 Real Betis, Levante 3-1 Athletic Bilbao, Granada 1-2 Valencia, Dep. La Coruna 1-0 Malaga, Sevilla 1-0 Osasuna, Celta Vigo 3-1 Real Valladolid, Real Madrid 4-3 Real Sociedad, Barcelona 4-0 Espanyol, Real Mallorca 1-1 Atletico Madrid. Today: Rayo Vallecano vs Getafe Italy: Catania 0-0 Torino, Lazio 2-1 Cagliari, Udinese 3-0 Inter Milan, AC Milan 2-1 Siena, Chievo 1-0 Atalanta, Fiorentina 0-2 Pescara, Genoa 2-0 Bologna, Juventus 1-2 Sampdoria, Parma 2-1 Palermo, Napoli 4-1 Roma.
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