Arsenal beats City, Ronaldo & Messi score freely in wins
LONDON (AP) — Arsenal dealt Manchester City’s Premier League title defense a blow on Sunday, while Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi lit up Spain with multi-goal scoring performances.
City’s 2-0 home loss to Arsenal left it flagging five points behind leader Chelsea. It also ended second-place City’s 12-game unbeaten run in all competitions.
Ronaldo scored twice to help Real Madrid win 3-0 at Getafe, before Messi bettered that with his 30th career hat trick for Barcelona as the Catalan club eased to a 4-0 victory at Deportivo La Coruna.
Here’s a look at the top leagues around Europe:
Arsenal finally ended its streak of poor away performances against top teams as Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud scored in each half at City.
Cazorla converted a penalty in the 24th minute and then sent in a free kick that Giroud headed in for the second in the 66th.
City dominated possession but Arsenal for once showed the kind of defensive fortitude that so often has been missing in big away games in recent years. Arsenal lost 6-3 at City last season.
Arsenal climbed above Tottenham into fifth place, one point behind Manchester United.
West Ham also gave its European ambitions a boost as a superb second-half display saw the Hammers beat struggling Hull 3-0. West Ham climbed above Liverpool into seventh.
Real stayed one point ahead of Barcelona as the Spanish league reached its halfway mark.
Ronaldo took his league-leading tally to 28 goals. Messi trails his rival with 19.
Defending champion Atletico Madrid did its part to stay in the title race and set up a promising second half of the season by beating bottom side Granada 2-0, remaining in third place, four points behind Real.
Real still has a game in hand to be played next month against Sevilla, which remained in fourth by beating Malaga 2-0.
After its exit from the Copa del Rey this week, Carlo Ancelotti’s team was under pressure to have a strong showing with only one win in four matches to start 2015 after finishing last year on a Spanish record 22-game win streak.
Karim Benzema used a skillful change of foot to open a passing angle and set up Ronaldo to net in the 63rd. James Rodriguez then crossed for Gareth Bale and Ronaldo to add goals in the 67th and 79th.
Messi tormented Deportivo from kickoff, and Ivan Rakitic met his run with a lobbed pass over the defense that the Argentina forward headed home in the 10th. Messi chipped in his second in the 33rd before firing in his third in the 62nd.
Carlos Tevez scored twice to help Juventus beat Hellas Verona 4-0 and move five points clear at the top of Serie A.
Paul Pogba and Tevez put the defending champion 2-0 up inside seven minutes. Verona goalkeeper Rafael kept the tide at bay until shortly after the hour mark when Roberto Pereyra and Tevez completed the scoring.
Napoli beat Lazio 1-0 to leapfrog the Rome side into third spot in Serie A, while Sampdoria remained firmly in the race for the final Champions League spot with a 2-0 win at Parma.
AC Milan had another disappointing result, losing 1-0 at home to relegation-threatened Atalanta.
Fiorentina’s Khouma Babacar scored a last-gasp goal that snatched a 2-1 win at Chievo Verona.
Genoa came back three times to rescue a 3-3 draw against Sassuolo. Udinese drew 2-2 at home to Cagliari, and Torino won 3-2 at bottom club Cesena.
Mario Lemina and Andre-Pierre Gignac scored late as Marseille beat Guingamp 2-1 for its first win in a month while Paris Saint-Germain again struggled in a scrappy 4-2 defeat of bottom side Evian in the French league.
After starting the new year with back to back losses and being knocked off the top of the standings by Lyon, Marseille was made to work by a well-organized Guingamp before Lemina headed home from close range six minutes from time to put the hosts in front.
Gignac extended Marseille’s lead from Dimitri Payet’s free kick five minutes later with another header. Claudio Beauvue pulled one back from the penalty spot after Rod Fanni was sent off in added time.
Marseille moved within one point of Lyon while PSG’s win lifted the defending champions to third in the standings — four points behind the leaders — after fourth-place Saint-Etienne was held to a goalless draw at Rennes.