By IAN HOLLIDAY
Chelsea almost never loses at Stamford Bridge, so a 3-0 home defeat to a mid-table team is big news, particularly since the three goals scored by Sunderland Sunday were the first three the Blues had allowed at the Bridge all season. Chelsea remains the team to beat in the Premier League, but with only two points separating them from second-placed Arsenal, the Blues need to work that much harder to hold on to the title.
Chelseas loss was easily the weekends biggest surprise, but the weekends biggest match-up came in Italy, where the Milan derby pitted Zlatan Ibrahimovic against the club where he built his reputation. So when AC Milan was awarded a fifth-minute penalty, there was little doubt who would step up to take it. Ibrahimovic buried the spot kick, providing the difference in the 1-0 victory, as Inter failed to create quality chances, even after Milan went down a man in the 6oth minute.
In Spain, Barcelona created some separation at the top of La Liga with its 3-1 defeat of third-placed Villarreal on Saturday. But the Catalan club remain one point behind Real Madrid, which pulled out a 1-0 win over Sporting Gijon on Sunday.
One of the weekends more entertaining matches came in Germany, where Kaiserslautern rallied from 3-0 down in the 50th minute to earn a 3-3 draw with VfB Stuttgart. Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund extended its Bundesliga lead to seven points, and Brest continued to top the Ligue 1 standings despite its 1-1 draw with Sochaux in France.
Here is a rundown of all the weekend scores from Europes top leagues:
Chelseas surprise loss opens up the race at the top of the Premier League. With their 2-1 win over Everton, Arsenal take sole possession of second place, just two points off the pace with 26 points. Behind them is Manchester United, which needed goals from Federico Macheda and Nemanja Vidic in the last nine minutes of the match just to earn a draw at Aston Villa. Still, the result was a welcome change for the Red Devils, who have grown accustomed to surrendering, not scoring, in the last 15 minutes of matches this season. Those three clubs are clearly the class of the league at the moment, with everyone else clumping together behind them. Leading the pack is Manchester City, which limped to its second consecutive 0-0 home draw on Saturday against Birmingham City.
Aston Villa 2, Manchester United 2
Manchester City 0, Birmingham City 0
Newcastle United 0, Fulham 0
Tottenham 4, Blackburn 2
West Ham United 0, Blackpool 0
Wolverhampton 2, Bolton 3
Wigan Athletic 1, West Bromwich Albion 0
Stoke City 2, Liverpool 0
Everton 1, Arsenal 2
Chelsea 0, Sunderland 3
If there was any doubt that the La Liga title race would be contested between Barcelona and Real Madrid, it was put to rest this weekend when Barca defeated its closest rival Villareal handily 3-1. A second-half brace from Lionel Messi proved to be the difference in a match that the visitors never looked like winning. The result puts Barca one point behind Real Madrid, which needed an 82nd-minute goal from Gonzalo Higuain to defeat Sporting Gijon on Sunday.
Athletic Bilbao 1, Almeria 0
Atletico Madrid 3, Osasuna 0
Barcelona 3, Villarreal 1
Malaga 1, Levante 0
Mallorca 0, Deportivo la Coruna 0
Racing Santander 0, Espanyol 0
Real Zaragoza 1, Sevilla 2
Hercules 2, Real Sociedad 1
Sporting Gijon 0, Real Madrid 1
Valencia 2, Getafe 0
The Milan derby got the headlines, but the more important result may have been Lazios 2-0 defeat of Napoli. With the victory, the club ended its 2-match losing streak and kept pace with AC Milan at the top of the table. Lazio now trails the Rossoneri by just one point at the top of the Serie A table, and lead third-placed Napoli by four. Lazio wasnt the only Roman club to play a big match this weekend, as AS Roma earned a 1-1 draw at Juventus. After a dismal start to the season, Roma has quietly climbed to sixth place, just one point behind Juve for Italys final Champions League spot.
Fiorentina 1, Cesena 0
Juventus 1, AS Roma 1
Lazio 2, Napoli 0
Bari 0, Parma 1
Udinese 4, Lecce 0
Sampdoria 0, Chievo 0
Palermo 3, Catania 1
Cagliari 0, Genoa 1
Inter Milan 0, AC Milan 1
All of a sudden, Borussia Dortmund has a seven point lead in the Bundesliga. Since defeating then-unbeaten Mainz on Halloween, Dortmund has won two in a row, while Mainz has been going in the opposite direction, dropping two in a row. Now, Dortmund is all alone at the top with 31 points, while Mainz is still stuck on 24, and has fallen to third place behind Bayer Leverkusen. Elsewhere in the Bundesliga, Michael Bradleys Borussia Moenchengladbach got a much-needed victory on Saturday, defeating FC Cologne 4-0 to climb within one point of safety. Bradley got the second goal in the rout.
Borussia Dortmund 2, Hamburg 0
Werder Bremen 0, Eintracht Frankfurt 0
Kaiserslautern 3, VfB Stuttgart 3
FC Cologne 0, Borussia Moenchengladbach 4
VfL Wolfsburg 2, Schalke 04 2
St. Pauli 0, Bayer Leverkusen 1
Mainz 05 0, Hannover 96 1
Hoffenheim 0, SC Freiburg 1
Bayern Munich 3, Nurnberg 0
The most impressive result of the weekend was certainly Lilles 5-2 defeat of Caen, which pulled the club within a point of Brest for the Ligue 1 lead. Lille showed composure after surrendering a late goal that reduced its lead to 3-2, slotting home two stoppage-time goals to pad their lead. Meanwhile, seven-time champions Lyon is slowly climbing up the table. After a slow start, the club has 19 points through 13 matches, good for eighth place in the league on goal differential, but still three points off the pace in the wide open French table.
Monaco 0, Arles 0
Montpellier 1, Toulouse 0
Marseille 1, Lens 1
Brest 1, Sochaux 1
Valenciennes v. St. Etienne (postponed)
Bordeaux 2, AS Nancy Lorraine 1
Caen 2, Lille 5
AJ Auxerre 2, Stade Rennes 1
Lorient 1, Paris St. Germain 1
Lyon 1, Nice 0
What did you think of this weeks matches? Surprised by Chelseas loss? Impressed by Barca, Real Madrid, or AC Milan? Think anyone can catch Dortmund?
Share your thoughts below.