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European review

Image: Cristiano Ronaldo: Scored a brace as Real Madrid saw off Athletic Bilbao 4-1

Real and Barca won again while Bayern's defeat allowed the chasing pack to move level on points.

Spanish giants march on; Bayern slip up; Celtic extend lead

Real Madrid and Barcelona won again in Spain while Bayern Munich's defeat allowed the chasing pack to move level on points at the top in Germany. Juventus continue to lead the way in Italy, although AC Milan and Udinese maintained the pressure with wins of their own. Marseille and Lyon were given tough times by lower league opposition in the Coupe de France while holders Lille survived a scare. In Holland, AZ Alkmaar and Ajax finished all-square in the battle of the top two while Celtic have extended their lead on Rangers in Scotland.
Primera Liga
Real Madrid maintained their five-point lead over Barcelona on Sunday with Spain's big two both securing 4-1 victories. Barca pilled the pressure on the leaders in the early game with Lionel Messi scoring a hat-trick as Pep Guardiola's side won at Malaga. Fernando Llorente gave Athletic Bilbao the lead at Santiago Bernabeu before Marcelo equalised. A brace of penalties from Cristiano Ronaldo fired the home side in front before Jose Callejon added the icing on the cake. Lowly Grenada remain just a point above the bottom three following a 3-0 defeat to Espanyol on Saturday.
Serie A
Juventus continue to lead the way in Italy's top flight following a 2-0 success over Atalanta. Stephan Lichsteiner and Emanuele Giaccherini were both on target for the Old Lady. Second-placed AC Milan maintained the pressure on Juve by responding on Sunday with a 3-0 success at rock-bottom Novara with Zlatan Ibrahimovic helping himself to a brace. Udinese remain in third spot following a 2-1 win over Catania, however, in-form Inter Milan have leapfrogged Lazio in the table after beating the Biancocelesti 2-1 at Giuseppe Meazza.
The title race in Germany could barely be any tighter with Borussia Dortmund and Schalke moving level on 37 points with leaders Bayern Munich. Bayern restarted their campaign following the winter break with a 3-1 away defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach. Patrick Herrmann bagged a double as the Bavarian giants failed to pick up a point. Second-placed Borussia Dortmund piled the pressure on Bayern courtesy of an impressive 5-1 win at Hamburg. Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Blaszczykowski each scored twice. Four successive wins sees Schalke level at the top of the standings. Joel Matip, Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Julian Draxler were all on target as Stuttgart suffered a third successive loss.
Coupe de France
Both Marseille and Lyon were given tough times by lower league opposition before booking their place in the last 16 of the Coupe de France. On Saturday, Ligue 1 champions Lille survived a scare in the defence of their French Cup title before reaching the last 16, while Bordeaux required penalties against lower league opposition.
The top of the Eredivisie table looks the same after the weekend's action with leaders AZ Alkmaar being held at home by second-placed Ajax. Steve McClaren marked his return to FC Twente with a thumping 5-0 success over RKC Waalwijk. Luuk de Jong scored twice while Emir Bajrami, Nacer Chadli and Ola John also found the back of the net.
Celtic are now four points clear of the top of the SPL table following a 2-0 win over St Mirren while arch-rivals Rangers were held at Ibrox by Aberdeen. Late goals from James Forrest and Scott Brown ensured the Bhoys maintained their good run of form by claiming all three points at St Mirren Park. Rangers failed to respond after only mustering a 1-1 draw. Maurice Edu cancelled out Kari Arason's opener in the second half, but Ally McCoist's men were unable to find a winner.
Best of the rest
Panathinaikos are the new leaders in Greece following their 1-0 win over Atromitos while Olympiakos lost away to FC Xanthi. Benfica continue to lead the way in Portugal. The leaders beat Gil Vicente 3-1 while second-placed Porto overcame Guimaraes. Fenerbahce have closed to within two points of Galatasaray in Turkey after thrashing Kayserispor while the leaders were held at Eskisehirspor.
Ranking Player Team Competition Rating (10) Key stats
1 Lionel Messi Barcelona La Liga 10 Scored the 10th hat-trick of his career in La Liga
2 Zlatan Ibrahimovic AC Milan Serie A 10 Scored a brace and 13 goals in his last 12 Serie A appearances
3 Thiago Alc√°ntara Barcelona La Liga 10 Completed 116 passes, a record in this La Liga match-day, made an assist
4 Francesco Totti AS Roma Serie A 10 Scored a brace within seven minutes vs Cesena
5 Rodrigo Palacio Genoa Serie A 10 Scored his 5th Serie A brace
6 Falcao Atletico Madrid La Liga 10 Scored his 2nd La Liga hat-trick
7 Jakub Blaszczykowski Borussia Dortmund Bundesliga 10 Scored two goals and assisted one
8 James Morrison West Bromwich Albion Premier League 10 Attempted seven shots, scored a goal
9 Robert Lewandowski Borussia Dortmund Bundesliga 9 Scored two goals and assisted one
10 Clint Dempsey Fulham Premier League 9 Scored a hat-trick

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