European football round-up: Barcelona tops LaLiga; Bayern, Juventus win

In what was another exciting weekend of European football, Lionel Messi's penalty took Barcelona to LaLiga summit, while Bayern Munich and Juventus secured crucial wins.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane termed the defeat to Real Betis as his team's worst performance of the season.   -  Getty Images

Barcelona regained top spot in LaLiga after Real Madrid stumbled against Real Betis, while league-leading German and Italian champions, Bayern Munich and Juventus, consolidated top spot in their respective domestic leagues with wins over Augsburg and Inter Milan.

La Liga

Real Madrid's response to winning the Clasico was another surprise defeat on Sunday as it lost 2-1 away at Real Betis to hand the initiative straight back to Barcelona.

Read: Casemiro: Betis loss could cost Real Madrid LaLiga title

Betis was a deserving victors of a thrilling contest at the Benito Villamarin where two galling Madrid errors cost it its place at the top of La Liga, with Barca now two points clear.

-Messi's spot-kick helps Barca return to winning ways-

Barcelona needed a dubious late penalty given by VAR and converted by Lionel Messi to scrape past Real Sociedad 1-0 on Saturday and avoid another slip-up in La Liga's title race.


Lionel Messi celebrates converting his penalty against Real Sociedad.   -  Getty Images

Messi's 24th goal of the season, and fifth in four games, was enough to save Barca, despite a drab display that threatened to bring more disappointment following last weekend's loss against Real Madrid.

-Ocampos penalty denies Atletico-

Atletico Madrid will hope for a tighter contest against Liverpool in the Champions League after playing out a frantic 2-2 draw against Sevilla on Saturday.

Joao Felix looked as sharp at the Wanda Metropolitano as he has done all season and completed a four-minute comeback for Atletico after Alvaro Morata's penalty cancelled out Luuk de Jong's opener for Sevilla.

But Lucas Ocampos levelled with another penalty at the end of a pulsating first half, again with the help of VAR after a foul by Kieran Trippier, whose involvement at Anfield on Wednesday could be in doubt.

Serie A

In Italy, the hardest-hit European country with 366 deaths from COVID-19, Serie A descended into controversy when Italian sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora called for the league season to be put on hold.

Italian Footballers' Association president Damiano Tommasi tweeted that “stopping football is the most useful thing for our country right now. The teams to cheer are playing in our hospitals, in emergency rooms.”

Read: No excuses for Pioli as Milan lose amid club chaos

However, five Serie A games -- cancelled the previous week -- went ahead behind closed doors, including Juventus' top of the table clash with Inter Milan.

-Ramsey, Dybala help Juventus beat Inter in San Siro-

Aaron Ramsey starred as Juventus beat title rival Inter Milan 2-0 on Sunday to reclaim top spot in Serie A in a game played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus outbreak.


Forward Paulo Dybala scored Juventus' second goal against Inter Milan at San Siro.   -  Getty Images

Antonio Conte's third-placed Inter is now nine points adrift, but with a game in hand on Juve and second-placed Lazio.

-Ibrahimovic goal in vain as Genoa beats AC Milan-

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's fourth goal since returning to AC Milan could not prevent the seven-time European champion from slipping to a 2-1 loss at home to struggling Genoa.

Milan remains seventh, three points off a Europa League place.


Thomas Mueller scored as Bayern Munich opened up a four-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga with a 2-0 victory over Augsburg at the Allianz Arena on Sunday, while the spread of the coronavirus threatened to curtail the season.


Bayern Munich players celebrate Thomas Muller's goal.   -  Getty Images

Bayern lacked fluency in the opening stages despite scoring 13 goals in its previous three Bundesliga games, but did enough to edge closer to an eighth straight title.

German health minister Jens Spahn on Sunday called for the cancellation of all gatherings of more than 1,000 people in the country over fears surrounding the spread of the new coronavirus.

Read: Promising Dortmund 15-year-old Moukoko sets U19 Bundesliga goalscoring record

But the German league immediately reacted, insisting that it was “out of the question” that the season would be delayed beyond its scheduled finish on May 16, a week before the German Cup final.

Bayern extended its unbeaten run to 15 games despite starting slowly.

-Hazard inspires Dortmund-

An inspired performance by Thorgan Hazard against his former club helped Borussia Dortmund claim a crucial three points in the title race with a 2-1 win away at Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday.


Borussia Dortmund defender Achraf Hakimi scored the decisive goal which helped his team beat Borussia Monchengladbach.   -  Getty Images

The match was tense throughout and featured a Bundesliga season-high 10 yellow cards, with players from both teams needing to be pulled away from each other by Dortmund coach Lucien Favre at full-time.

The win saw Dortmund leapfrog Leipzig into second place, trailing leader Bayern Munich by four points.

-RB Leipzig draws blank at Wolfsburg-

RB Leipzig dropped more points in the Bundesliga title race after labouring to a 0-0 draw at Wolfsburg on Saturday.

Leipzig missed the goal threat of Timo Werner, who started the game on the bench after overcoming a muscular problem during the week.

With Bayern beating Augsburg, Leipzig fell five points behind in the title race.

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