LONDON: Real Madrid stumbled to a 2-2 home draw with Espanyol, allowing victorious Barcelona to open up a 13-point gap over their rivals and prompting Real boss Jose Mourinho to say the Catalans have all but won the Spanish title in December.
The title race is closer in England but Manchester United maintained their six-point cushion with a 3-1 home win over Sunderland while second-placed Manchester City won by the same score at Newcastle United.
Paris St Germain triumphed in the big game in France while German leaders Bayern Munich drew and Serie A pacesetters Juventus shone.
Barcelona moved nine points clear at the top of La Liga after Lionel Messi scored twice in a 4-1 hammering of second-placed Atletico Madrid at the Nou Camp.
Atletico striker Radamel Falcao gave the visitors a deserved early lead but Adriano levelled with a magnificent long-range shot, Sergio
Busquets netted before the break and Messi took his 2012 tally to 90 with a second-half brace.
Barca moved 13 points clear of ailing champions Real Madrid in third, who were held to a surprise 2-2 draw at the Bernabeu.
Sergio Garcia gave Espanyol the lead, only for Cristiano Ronaldo and Fabio Coentrao to put the hosts in charge, but they failed to press home their domination. Juan Albin netted an equaliser for Espanyol in the 88th minute.
Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney were on target for Manchester United as the Premier League leaders swept aside Sunderland 3-1 at Old Trafford to stay six points clear of Manchester City.
Champions City, beaten 3-2 by United in last weekend’s Manchester derby after a Van Persie stoppage-time winner, defeated Newcastle United 3-1 at St James’ Park.
Queens Park Rangers celebrated their first win of the season after beating west London rivals Fulham 2-1.
Chelsea lost the World Club Cup final 1-0 to Brazil’s Corinthians in Japan.
Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich made sure they went into the mid-season break with a nine-point lead despite drawing 1-1 against Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Xherdan Shaqiri’s equaliser salvaged a point for Jupp Heynckes’ team to complete a superb first half to the season as they chase their first silverware after two seasons without a title.
Bayern are nine points clear of second-placed Bayer Leverkusen who beat Hamburg SV 3-0 for their fifth win in six matches to move up to 33 points. Forward Stefan Kiessling confirmed his fine form, scoring twice to top the Bundesliga scorers’ list with 12 goals.
Champions Borussia Dortmund earned a 3-1 victory at Hoffenheim to hold on to third place on 30 points.
Paris St Germain overcame Olympique Lyon 1-0 at home to snatch the French league top spot thanks to Blaise Matuidi’s first-half goal.
The big-spending club proved too strong for Lyon and they are now level on 35 points from 18 games with their rivals but ahead on goal difference.
Both clubs are also tied with third-placed Olympique Marseille, who won 1-0 at Toulouse with Andre-Pierre Gignac scoring an superb curling strike only days after returning from injury.
Juventus went seven points clear at the top of Serie A as they beat Atalanta 3-0 and nearest rivals Inter Milan and Napoli both lost.
Defending champions Juve, who have 41 points from 17 games, raced to a 3-0 lead in less than half an hour with goals from Mirko Vucinic, Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio, then Atalanta had Thomas Manfredini sent off in the 31st minute.
Inter, who have 34 points, were beaten by a late Miroslav Klose goal at Lazio while Napoli conceded two goals in the last five minutes as they were beaten 3-2 at home by Bologna.
Those results left Napoli and Lazio level on 33 points.
Steve McClaren’s Twente Enschede beat neighbours Heracles Almelo 3-2 to go level at the top with leaders PSV Eindhoven, who were held to a 1-1 draw at NEC Nijmegen. Both have 37 points at the halfway mark of the season.
Ajax Amsterdam trail the leaders by a point following a 4-2 win at Willem II Tilburg, while Vitesse Arnhem slipped to fourth after a 2-2 home draw against RKC Waalwijk.
Ronald Koeman’s Feyenoord stayed in the title race with 34 points after a 3-2 home win over ADO Den Haag.
Paraguay striker Oscar Cardozo scored an hat-trick for Benfica in their 4-1 home thrashing of Maritimo that pulled them clear at the top of the Portuguese Premier League, three points above second-placed Porto who have a game in hand.
Cardozo became Benfica’s first foreign striker to reach the 100 league goals mark as the Lisbon club grabbed 32 points from 12 matches.
Friday’s clash between Porto and Vitoria de Setubal was postponed due to poor pitch conditions under heavy rain and will be played in January.
Panathinaikos suffered an embarrassing 3-0 defeat at lowly Veria on Sunday as the Greens continued to lose ground on runaway league leaders and arch rivals Olympiakos Piraeus in the Greek Super Lea