EUROPEAN FOOTBALL ROUND-UP - Man U plunder on
EPL: Manchester United's main man Robin van Persie scored twice and Chicharito matched his total as the Red Devils forced Wigan into the drop zone with a 4-0 mauling midweek.
Their neighbours and closest challengers Man City prevented the gap from passing seven by comfortably beating Stoke 3-0.
Chelsea's tentative revival of their tital hopes was dealt a blow as QPR stole a late goal for the 1-0 win, however, Rangers remain bottom of the league. Tottenham are now the closest threat to the Manchester clubs after they recovered from an early setback to beat second-bottom Reading 3-1.
With Demba Ba absent prior to his move to Chelsea, Newcastle were pegged back by fifth-placed Everton 2-1. Southampton lifted themselves out of the relegation with a deserved 1-1 draw at home to Arsenal.
Danny Graham scored a 95th-minute equaliser to break Aston Villa hearts as the Swans eked out a well-deserved 2-2 draw. Jamaican-born Raheem Sterling scored and Luis Suarez netted a brace after assisting Sterling as Liverpool blanked Sunderland 3-0.
Fulham and West Ham earned 2-1 wins against West Brom and Norwich respectively.
In the FA Cup weekend, Manchester United had to rely on Robin van Persie to earn a replay against West Ham while Newcastle were ousted by Brighton. Liverpool and Chelsea both made it through while Arsenal will also have to replay their match with Swansea.
Barca roll on
La Liga: Barcelona scored 4 first-half goals including Lionel Messi's first of 2013 to rout derby rivals and relegation-placed Espanyol 4-0 and march on to what seems like an inevitable league title.
Barca's lead is now 11 points as Atletico drew 1-1 with lowly Mallorca as a late equaliser shocked Madrid.
In an action-filled tie, Real Madrid had goalkeeper Adan sent off and regular captain Casillas sprung into action within the first 10 minutes to loud cheers from the Bernabeu. This was after Benzema had put Madrid infront, but Sociedad's Xabi Prieto fired his first of three for the night past Casillas.
Cristiano Ronaldo, wearing the captain's armband, however scored twice to give Real the 4-3 win as Sociedad also had a player sent off.
Fourth-placed Malaga were clipped 1-0 by second-bottom Deportivo while Sevilla overcame bottom team Osasuna by a similar scoreline. Valencia are now four points off a Champions League place after beating Granada 2-1. Bilbao's mediocre season continued as they were beaten 3-1 by Levante.
Celta beat Valladolid 3-1 while Betis clipped Zaragoza 2-1.
Juve start 2013 with loss
Serie A: Juventus saw their lead cut down to five points as a second-half Mauro Icardi double saw Sampdoria clip the champions.
Lazio capitalised on this rare slip-up by scoring two late goals to beat Cagliari 2-1 and hold on to second. Magnificent marksman Edinson Cavani netted a hat-trick to pass Stephan El Sharaawy as the top scorer as third-placed Napoli routed Roma 4-1.
Both Fiorentina and Inter who are tied on points for fourth suffered setbacks as Fiorentina were blanked 2-0 by Pescara. The Milan club weren't much better as they too couldn't score amid an Antonio Di Natale brace in Udinese's 3-0 win. Bottom club Siena gave a good showing depsite losing 2-1 to AC Milan while fellow basement-dwellers Palermo lost by the same scoreline to Parma.
Genoa beat Bologna 2-0, while Chievo blanked Atalanta 1-0. Catania versus Torino ended goalless.
Editor's Note: Bundesliga will resume their season in February.
-— Yakum Fitz-Henley