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Soccer-European roundup-Atletico miss chance to go top, Real close in

Reuters

LONDON, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Real Madrid were the big winners in Spain after closing the gap on joint leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid to one point with a 5-0 victory over Real Betis.

Barcelona were held to a 1-1 draw at Levante and Atletico missed their chance to move top when conceded a late goal to draw 1-1 at home to Sevilla.

Arsenal continued to set the pace in the English Premier League with a 2-0 win over Fulham but Manchester City and Chelsea stayed in hot pursuit with victories over Cardiff City and champions Manchester United respectively.

SPAIN

Real Madrid gained further ground on Barcelona and Atletico Madrid after the joint leaders were held to draws at Levante and at home to Sevilla respectively on Sunday.

Barca had to come from behind to rescue a point in a 1-1 stalemate at mid-table Levante in Valencia but Atletico were unable to capitalise on the champions' unexpected setback.

They took an early lead through David Villa but Juanfran conceded a penalty midway through the second half converted by Ivan Rakitic.

Barca and Atletico are level on 51 points after 20 matches and Real are third on 50 thanks to Saturday's 5-0 thrashing of bottom side Real Betis, whose coach Juan Carlos Garrido was sacked on Sunday a month and a half after replacing Pepe Mel.

ENGLAND

Samuel Eto'o scored a hat-trick as Chelsea maintained their title challenge with a 3-1 home win over Manchester United.

Jose Mourinho's side stayed third in the table, two points behind leaders Arsenal, who beat Fulham 2-0, and a point adrift of Manchester City, who overcame Cardiff City 4-2. United are 14 points behind the leaders in seventh.

Two goals in five minutes midway through the second half by Spain international Santi Cazorla set Arsenal up for their fifth successive league victory.

City made it seven consecutive league wins after Edin Dzeko's opener took them to 100 goals in all competitions this season.

Fourth-placed Liverpool stumbled in a 2-2 draw at home to Aston Villa.

ITALY

Leaders Juventus clocked up their 12th successive league win by beating Sampdoria 4-2, helped by two goals from Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal and one each from Paul Pogba and Fernando Llorente.

The champions, who have dropped only five points in their first 20 games, stayed eight clear of AS Roma who easily beat struggling Livorno 3-0.

Third-placed Napoli dropped four points behind Roma after conceding a last-minute goal in a 2-2 draw at 10-man Bologna.

AC Milan gave new coach Clarence Seedorf a winning start with a 1-0 win over Hellas Verona thanks to a late penalty converted by Mario Balotelli, only their sixth league victory of the season.

FRANCE

Zlatan Ibrahimovic took his league tally to 17 goals with another double as leaders Paris St Germain thrashed sixth-placed Nantes 5-0.

The Swedish striker also set up Edinson Cavani for his 13th goal and Thiago Silva and Thiago Motta added their names to the scoresheet as PSG moved to 50 points from 21 games.

They are five points ahead of second-placed Monaco, who won 2-0 at Toulouse thanks to a goal from Layvin Kurzawa and a superb overhead kick from substitute Lucas Ocampos.

Monaco have opened a five-point gap on Lille, who are third in the Champions League playoff qualifying spot and lost 2-0 at fourth-placed St Etienne on Friday.

PORTUGAL

Two first-half goals from Rodrigo gave leaders Benfica a 2-0 win over Maritimo as the top three sides all won.

Sporting, two points behind in second place, came from behind to win 2-1 at Arouca with Islam Slimani scoring the decisive goal in the 72nd minute. Third-placed Porto, a further point adrift, beat Vitoria Setubal 3-0. (Editing by Toby Davis)

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