Manchester City scored a dramatic 3-2 victory over Tottenham on Sunday, leaving Manchester United its only likely rival for the Premier League title.
Third-place Tottenham rallied from 2-0 down to tie the score. But Jermain Defoe missed an injury-time chance for Tottenham and Mario Balotelli won the game for City with a penalty kick he earned himself.
Fouled by Tottenham's Ledley King, the Italy striker took a step, paused and shot past U.S. goalkeeper Brad Friedel to give City its 11th win from 11 home games.
City is eight points ahead of Tottenham. Defending champion United is three behind in second place after a 2-1 win at Arsenal.
"We created an amazing amount of chances and to only score two is a bit disappointing," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "We should have rammed home our advantage in the first half."
Antonio Valencia scored United's first goal and set up the winner over an Arsenal team that slipped 18 points behind City and five behind the final Champions League qualifying berth.
Arsenal is five points behind fourth-place Chelsea — which drew 0-0 at Norwich on Saturday — and 18 behind City. Newcastle trails Arsenal on goal difference after Clint Dempsey's hat trick gave Fulham a 5-2 win over the Magpies on Saturday.
MADRID (AP) — Lionel Messi scored a rare header in his 15th career hat trick to lead Barcelona to a 4-1 win at Malaga. Real Madrid maintained its five-point lead at the Spanish league's halfway point by rallying for a 4-1 victory at home over Athletic Bilbao behind Cristiano Ronaldo's two second-half penalty kicks.
Messi started the rout in the 33rd minute with a header — just the 10th such goal of his 216 Barcelona. He then added goals in the 51st and 81st after Alexis Sanchez had doubled the lead in the 48th. Messi's final goal was on a half-field run outracing three defenders, giving him five hat tricks this season.
Messi has 36 goals overall, including 22 in the league, one behind Ronaldo.
Fernando Llorente put Malaga ahead in the 13th minute, but Marcelo tied the score in the 25th and Ronaldo converted penalty kicks in the 47th and 67th, raising his season total to 29 goals. Jose Callejon added a goal in the 85th.
Madrid goes to Barcelona on Wednesday for the second leg of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals. Barcelona won the first leg 2-1 in the capital last week.
"There is a long way to go, all the second half of the season, and we will keep pushing all the way," Messi said.
Third-place Valencia slipped to a 1-1 draw at Osasuna after being reduced to 10 men and conceding a stoppage-time equalizer to Manuel "Lolo" Ortiz. Mallorca edged Rayo Vallecano 1-0, and last-place Zaragoza tied 0-0 at Levante.
ROME (AP) — AC Milan, Udinese and Inter Milan won to join Juventus in what is turning into a rare four-way race for the Serie A title at the Italian season's midpoint.
Milan won 3-0 at last-place Novara with two goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and another from Robinho. Pablo Armero and Antonio Di Natale found the net to steer Udinese to a 2-1 victory over Catania. Inter came from behind to beat Lazio 2-1 with goals from Diego Milito and Giampaolo Pazzini for its seventh consecutive victory.
Juventus, which beat Atalanta 2-0 Saturday, holds a one-point lead over Milan and is three points in front of Udinese, which has never finished higher than third. Inter, which was once 15 points back, trails by six points after moving past Lazio into fourth place.
For the most part, the Serie A title race has been a two-team affair in recent seasons, with Inter Milan winning five consecutive championships from 2006-10 and Milan taking the title last year.
In other matches, it was: Lecce 2, Chievo Verona 2; Palermo 5, Genoa 3; Siena 1, Napoli 1; and Cagliari 0, Fiorentina 0.
BERLIN (AP) — Borussia Dortmund pulled even with Bayern Munich and Schalke at the top of the Bundesliga following a 5-1 rout at Hamburger SV in the first round after the winter break.
Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Blaszczykowski both scored twice to help Dortmund send Hamburg coach Thorsten Fink to his first league defeat after eight games unbeaten.
Dortmund climbed ahead of Schalke to second behind Bayern on goal difference, while Moenchengladbach is a point behind the top three.
Bayer Leverkusen beat Mainz 3-2 but squandered a two-goal lead Lars Bender before put the home team back in front with a header from a corner in the 70th.
"Lars saved us," Leverkusen forward Andre Schuerrle said. "Hopefully the win means the team will be left in peace."
Many Dortmund fans traveled to Hamburg but remained outside the stadium to protest the cost of tickets, which start at more than $24 for a standing ticket.
PARIS (AP) — Marseille needed overtime goals from Morgan Amalfitano in the 104th minute and Loic Remy in the 120th to beat second-division Le Havre 3-1 and reach the last 16 of the French Cup.
Ryan Mendes put Le Havre ahead in the fifth minute, but Brandao tied it with a header in the 64th.
Lyon, Valenciennes and Gazelec Ajaccio also advanced.
Seven-time champion Lyon needed late goals to beat Lucon 2-0 and avoid a humiliating draw with an amateur opponent.
Bafetimbi Gomis pounced on a loose ball before firing into the top corner in the 75th minute. Lisandro Lopez sealed the win for the visitors in the last minute following a counterattack. The Argentine played a one-two with Alexandre Lacazette and slammed the ball into the roof of the net.
Foued Kadir shone in Valenciennes' 3-1 win over Bastia with two goals and an assist while third-division Gazelec Ajaccio beat second-tier Troyes 1-0.
AMSTERDAM (AP) — AZ Alkmaar settled for a 1-1 draw at home to Ajax after conceding a late own-goal, keeping the Dutch league leader in first place by a point.
Simon Poulsen put the ball in his own net in the 75th minute after Rasmus Elm had given Alkmaar a 37th-minute lead from a free kick.
The gap at the top remained unchanged, with second-place PSV Eindhoven playing to a draw at Utrecht.
Leroy George scored the only goal of the game to give NEC Nijmegen its first win at Vitesse since 1979.
On Saturday, former England coach Steve McClaren marked his Eredivisie return with a victory, his Twente club romping past RKC Waalwijk 5-0.