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Nathan Alder,

Correspondent (Sport)

 

English Premier League

United and City both win again to extend their lead at the top and pull away from the chasing pack.

Manchester United raced into a two goal lead at home to a struggling Sunderland side as they strolled to a comfortable 3-1 victory. Robin Van Persie scored for the second week running to give the Red Devils the lead, before Tom Cleverly scored a lovely curling effort to cap a fine team move. Wayne Rooney missed a host of chances before finally getting his name on the score sheet to make it three for the home team, before Frazier Campbell scored a consolation goal against his former side to give the travelling fans something to cheer about.

The other half of Manchester shared in their rivals joy as they too came away with a 3-1 victory away at Newcastle. Sergio Aguero opened the scoring for Mancini’s men on ten minutes from close range, before the champions extended their lead on 39 minutes thanks to Javi Garcia’s header. Demba Ba gave the home side a glimmer of hope with a header early in the second half to halve the deficit, but Yaya Toure made sure of the victory for the visitors late on.

Tottenham Hotspur moved up into the final Champions League spot with a 1-0 victory at home to Swansea. A late goal from Belgian centre back Jan Vertonghen was enough for Villas-Boas’s men in a tight affair at White Heart Lane.

Elsewhere, Liverpool suffered a shock home defeat to lowly Aston Villa as two Christian Benteke goals and another from Andreas Weimann was enough for Paul Lamberts side to clinch a 3-1 win. Norwich, meanwhile, moved up into 8th after edging out Wigan at home 2-1 thanks to goals from Anthony Pilkington and Wes Hoolahan.

There was also a first win of the season for QPR at home to Fulham, whilst Evert and Stoke, and West Brom and West Ham both drew.

 

Spanish La Liga

The game of the weekend saw the top two come to blows at the Camp Nou with a rampant Barcelona extending their runaway lead at the top.

Barcelona and Athletico Madrid met for the first time this season and it was Vilanova’s unstoppable Catalans, that came out on top with a more than impressive 4-1 win. Although falling behind early on courtesy of a fine Radamel Falcao effort, the home side, inspired, yet again, by Lionel Messi, drew level just after the half hour mark thanks to Adriano. A rare Sergio Busquets effort gave Barca the lead before Lionel Messi scored two wonderfully crafted goals to put a real shine on proceedings. Vilanova’s side now hold a nine point lead going into the winter break and look odds on for the title.

Arch rivals Real Madrid lost further ground at the top after a disappointing 2-2 draw at home to Espanyol. Sergio Garcia gave the away side a shock lead midway through the first half, but when Ronaldo and Coentrao scored either side of half time for the champions, Mourinho’s men seemed to be strolling to yet another victory. However, a late strike from Uruguayan substitute, Albin, ensured that there was a share of the spoils with a fine counter attacking goal.

Elsewhere, there were away wins for both Malaga and Real Betis as both looked to gain an advantage in the hunt for the final Champions League place. Malaga won 2-0 away at a struggling Sevilla outfit, thanks to two second half goals from Demichelis and Eliseu. Betis left it late to secure their away win with an 81st minute Jorge Molina effort giving Pepe Mels side a 1-0 win.

There were also 1-0 away victories for both Levante and Rayo Vallecano as they maintained their impressive starts to the season. Whereas, there were four other draws between the remaining sides in La Liga, the most significant of which saw Granada climb out of the relegation zone, thanks to a goalless draw at home to Real Sociedad.

 

Italian Serie A

Juve win a third game in a row to move further clear at the top as both Inter and Napoli slip up.

Juventus powered past Atlanta to extend their lead at the summit to 7 points courtesy of a 3-0 home win. All three goals came within the first half hour as Juventus’s greater pace and power proved just too much for a nervy looking Atlanta side. Mirko Vucinic opened the scoring after just two minutes before Andrea Pirlo notched a rare goal for the champions second. Italian international midfielder Claudio Marchisio got in on the action to score the third and final goal for Juve who make it three wins in a row.

2nd and 3rd clashed at the Stadio Olimpico when Lazio took on Inter Milan. A rather drab affair in the end saw the home side steal all three points late on as veteran German forward Miroslav Klose notched the winner to give Lazio a 1-0 win and close the gap to Inter to just a point.

Fiorentina got back to winning ways in impressive style with a 4-1 thrashing of Siena to move them up to fourth. Luca Toni headed the home side in front early on, and then David Pizarro added a second from the spot on 19 minutes. Former Liverpool midfielder, Alberto Aquilani, who has impressed since returning to Italy, scored the third for La Viola just before half time, before Toni again popped up in the area to secure the victory with his second of the game.

Elsewhere, Napoli suffered a shock 3-2 defeat at home to Bologna, as the home side let a comfortable lead slip late on to lose their third game on the bounce. Gamberini and Cavani had put the home side 2-1 up but an 86th minute leveller from Kone was added too at the death by centre half Portavona, who scored his first goal of the season to give Bologna the shock victory.

There were also convincing wins for AC Milan, Catania and Parma, whilst sixth place Roma suffered a shock 1-0 away defeat to Chievo. Udinese and Palermo, and Genoa and Torino both played out 1-1 draws.

 

Image Courtesy:  digibard (http://www.flickr.com/photos/digibard/3972854394)

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Nathan is currently is in his 3rd year at the University of Leicester studying Bsc Communication, Media and Society. His main area of focus is sport, most notably football, and he has been writing for various websites for the past year in this area. Alongside being a correspondent for the Global Panorama he has also set up and run his own football blog, and is currently part of the Leicester University Student Television team.

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