PSG, Madrid, Bayern Munich and Napoli all win in Europe
The Jakarta Post
The Jakarta Post
Europe's finest strikers were on target on Sunday as Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Napoli secured wins.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice as leader Paris Saint-Germain equaled the longest unbeaten run in the French league with a 2-0 win at Saint-Etienne. Cristiano Ronaldo did even better with a hat trick that helped Real Madrid crush Espanyol 6-0 and stay in touch with Barcelona at the top in Spain.
In Germany, Robert Lewandowski scored a brace for Bayern Munich to restore its eight-point lead over his former club Borussia Dortmund with a 2-0 win against Hoffenheim.
Gonzalo Higuain was on the scoresheet as Napoli came from behind to beat Empoli 5-1 and remain top of Serie A.
Here is a look at Europe's major action on Sunday:
Madrid bounced back from its 1-1 draw at Real Betis last weekend with another dominant display, thrashing Espanyol 6-0. It was coach Zinedine Zidane's third game in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu, where he won his first two matches 5-0 and 5-1.
Goals by Karim Benzema and James Rodriguez either side of a penalty earned and converted by Ronaldo had Madrid 3-0 ahead after just 16 minutes.
Ronaldo went on a spectacular dribble past two defenders before blasting in the fourth before halftime. He completed his treble late, before Oscar Duarte scored on own goal on his debut.
"The team is working well, in a few weeks Zizou (Zidane) has done a phenomenal job," Ronaldo said. "That's why we are getting these results."
In third place, Madrid closed to one point behind Atletico Madrid after it lost 2-1 at Barcelona on Saturday. Barcelona, which has a game in hand, is four points ahead of Madrid.
Elsewhere, Valencia lost its first league home match since November 2014 after Sporting Gijon claimed a 1-0 victory at Mestalla Stadium to climb out of the relegation zone.
Kevin Gameiro led Sevilla to a 3-1 win over bottom-side Levante, while Las Palmas got a 90th-minute goal to edge 10-man Celta Vigo 2-1 to also escape the bottom three.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored both goals as leader Paris Saint-Germain equaled the longest unbeaten run in the French league with a 2-0 win at Saint-Etienne.
PSG has not lost a league match since March last year and is now unbeaten in 32 games, a record set by Nantes 21 years ago.
The win extended PSG's lead over second-place Monaco to 24 points after Laurent Blanc's players overcame a strong resistance from Saint-Etienne in a lively encounter.
PSG made the breakthrough soon after the hour-mark when Ibrahimovic connected with a cross from Serge Aurier near the penalty spot and beat Ruffier.
After Trapp made a fine diving save in the 88th to deny Jeremy Clement's low shot, Ibrahimovic struck in stoppage time with a clean finish - taking his tally to 19 league goals this season.
Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski broke the deadlock against Hoffenheim in the 32nd minute and sealed the result in the 64th with his 19th goal of the season.
The home side dominated but failed to really trouble the visitors until the half-hour mark, when Kingsley Coman rattled the Hoffenheim defense. That led to Douglas Costa drilling in a low cross that Lewandowski stabbed home from close range.
Hoffenheim didn't bother Manuel Neuer until Andrej Kramaric drew a block from the Bayern 'keeper in the 41st.
Kramaric should have equalized on a rare Hoffenheim counterattack in the 56th, before Lewandowski killed any slim hopes of a comeback with a brilliant finish.
Philipp Lahm played the ball forward and Lewandowski lifted it over the emerging goalkeeper to settle it. It was the striker's 26th goal across all competitions this season.
Earlier, Anthony Modeste scored late to earn Cologne a 1-1 draw and extend Wolfsburg's six-game run without a win in the Bundesliga.
Higuain ensured his side remains top of Serie A and two points clear of title rival Juventus.
Empoli went in front in the 28th minute when a well-worked free kick by Leandro Paredes took a deflection to wrongfoot Pepe Reina.
Empoli's lead lasted just five minutes before Higuain headed Lorenzo Insigne's cross into the bottom right corner for his 22nd goal in 22 league matches this season.
Napoli completed the turnaround five minutes later as Insigne curled a stunning free kick into the top left corner.
Napoli extended its advantage six minutes after the break when debutant Michele Camporese turned into his own net as he tried to prevent Higuain from getting to Jose Callejon's cross.
Higuain went off in the 72nd minute to a standing ovation but Napoli added to its tally as Callejon twice fired in crosses from Dries Mertens.
Juve won 4-0 at Chievo Verona, while Fiorentina stayed third despite a goalless draw at Genoa as fourth-place Inter Milan lost a heated derby 3-0 to AC Milan.
Oscar scored a first-half hat trick as Chelsea cruised to a 5-1 victory at second-tier MK Dons to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Chelsea's next opponent in the competition will not be such a pushover as the Dons, after Hiddink's side was drawn against Premier League title favorite Manchester City in the last 16.
Everton also advanced, beating fourth-tier Carlisle 3-0 in a match where fans were given a warning that racism would not be tolerated at the stadium, following a report of abusive language.
Manchester United will travel to third-tier Shrewsbury, the lowest-placed team left in soccer's oldest club competition, following Sunday's draw. (rin)
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