European Football Results: Super Mario shines on Milan debut



Italy

Some players are just destined to hog the back pages. Mario Balotelli is one of them. The explosive striker was superb on debut for Milan, scoring both goals in a hard-fought win over Udinese. His second, a penalty deep into injury time, highlighted once more how cool Super Mario can be under pressure. That win put Milan level on points with city rivals Inter, who lost 3-1 to Siena. Elswhere, Roma's 4-2 loss to Cagliari (which included a tragic own goal from Mauro Goicoechea - see below) brought the curtain down on Zdenek Zeman's second spell in the capital. The 65-year-old certainly brought the best from the Giallorossi attack - no team has scored more in Serie A - but defensive lapses cost him dear. Roma are out of the title race but can be backed at 3.25 to win the Coppa Italia.


Spain

Stop the clocks! Man the lifeboats! Women and children first! Barcelona and Real Madrid BOTH failed to win this weekend. (Let's just let that sink in...) First up, Real turned in an insipid performance against Granada, losing 1-0. Cristiano Ronaldo kept up his scoring record - but at the wrong end of the pitch (see below). At the Mestalla, Leo Messi's impeccable penalty cancelled out Ever Banega's strike for Valenica, but the Blaugrana never clicked into top gear and had to make do with a point. All this, of course, was great news for Atletico Madrid; Diego Simeone's side beat Betis to go seven points clear of Real. They are now just nine points off Barça. They couldn't, could they?


France

Oh, Joey. It was all going so well. And then you go and spoil it all by doing something stupid like getting sent off. In fairness to Monsieur Barton, his second yellow against Nancy was fairly harsh (see below), but trouble still seems to follow him round like a bad smell. To make matters worse, his Marseille side slumped to a 1-0 defeat, which - coupled with Lyon's loss to Ajaccio - allowed big-spending PSG to move three points clear at the top of Ligue 1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Brazilian starlet Lucas were in fine form in the romp against Toulouse, which suggested that things are coming together nicely for Carlo Ancelotti's side. The side from the capital are now at 1.20 to win the French league.


Germany

All eyes were on Leverkusen last night for the battle between Bayer 04 and Borussia Dortmund (see video below). Jurgen Klopp's side raced into a 2-0 lead before Stefan Reinartz brace restored parity for the hosts. Dortmund were not to be denied, however, and claimed all three points thanks to Robert Lewandowski's winner. Elsewhere, Bayern Munich picked up a routine win over Stuttgart, while the biggest shock of the weekend came in Gelsenkirchen, where Schalke were humbled by rock-bottom Greuther Fürth. That may dent the confidence of the Royal Blues, who face tricky away ties against Bayern and Galatasary in the next two weeks.