Title rivals United, City win in Premier League
LONDON -- Manchester United's seven-point lead over Manchester City stayed intact Sunday after the title-chasing rivals defeated two former powers in the Premier League.
United scraped its way to a 2-1 victory at home against Liverpool. City won 2-0 at Arsenal after playing against 10 men for most of the match.
Robin van Persie sent United on the way to victory over its greatest rival at Old Trafford with his league-high 17th goal of the season. Nemanja Vidic unwittingly made it 2-0 but United had to resort to desperate defense to preserve the lead after substitute Daniel Sturridge's goal in his league debut for Liverpool.
"It was a big game, everyone felt that during the week, and this is a great result," said Van Persie, who joined the team from Arsenal in August.
City enjoyed its first league win at Arsenal in 38 years. Laurent Koscielny's ninth-minute red card for wrestling Edin Dzeko to the ground inside the penalty area proved decisive. Dzeko missed the resulting kick but later added to the superb opening goal by James Milner.
City's Vincent Kompany drew a red card for a two-footed tackle, depriving the team of its captain for three games.
Chelsea, a 4-0 winner at Stoke on Saturday, can keep alive its slim hopes of catching the Manchester clubs by beating Southampton on Wednesday in their game in hand to reduce the gap to United to 11 points.
BARCELONA, Spain -- In his first game since winning an unprecedented fourth world player of the year award, Lionel Messi scored one goal and set up two more to steer Barcelona to a 3-1 win at Malaga as the Spanish leaders reached the season's midway point with an almost immaculate record.
Messi pounced on an ill-advised back pass by Malaga's Ignacio Camacho in the 27th minute to score for the ninth league game in a row. He then set up Cesc Fabregas to score in the 50th and substitute Thiago Alcantara for another eight minutes from time.
Barcelona has won all 10 away games this season and is unbeaten in the league after a league-record start of 18 wins to go with one single draw.
While the season is still far from over, Barcelona looks set to recover the domestic title. The Catalan club maintained its commanding 11-point lead over Atletico Madrid after its nearest chaser beat Real Zaragoza 2-0.
"We started the season very strong, winning almost all the points possible, and we have kept it up through the first half," said Barcelona forward Pedro Rodriguez. "We hope we can continue. We always have new goals to keep us motivated. We just have to go forward game by game."
Also, 10-man Deportivo La Coruna drew 1-1 at Real Sociedad, allowing the team to climb out of last place.
MILAN -- Defending champion Juventus struggled again in the Italian league, held to a 1-1 draw at Parma in Serie A.
Second-place Lazio is only three points behind Juventus after a 2-0 win at home to Atalanta. Former Atalanta striker Sergio Floccari gave Lazio the lead after the ball struck his arm, and an own goal from Davide Brivio sealed the result.
Napoli is two points further back after cruising to a 3-0 win at home to Palermo. Fifth-place Fiorentina surprisingly lost 3-1 at Udinese on two goals by Antonio Di Natale, while AC Milan drew 0-0 at Sampdoria.
Juventus was eager to get back to top form after a loss at home to 10-man Sampdoria last week and a narrow extra-time victory over Milan in the Italian Cup.
Parma is the only team left in Serie A yet to lose a game at home.
PARIS -- Relegation-threatend Sochaux recorded a surprising 3-1 win over title contender Marseille in the French league, despite being reduced to 10 men for the final 30 minutes.
Sochaux had lost its previous three league games and had not won since the middle of November, but it took the lead in the 18th minute after Sloan Privat headed in a corner.
Cedric Bakambu doubled Sochaux's tally shortly before halftime as heavy snow fell at the Stade Auguste Bonal.
Andre Ayew pulled one back for Marseille before Sochaux's Joseph Lopy was sent off for two yellow cards.
Marseille hit the woodwork twice through Nicolas N'Koulou and Lucas Mendes but couldn't pull closer.
Sochaux moved out of the relegation zone and into 17th, while Marseille remains third, three points behind leader Lyon.
Earlier, Bastia beat fellow struggler Reims 2-1 for a second successive victory, and Nice routed Valenciennes 5-0.
ATHENS, Greece -- PAOK failed to crack Atromitos' defense and settled for a 0-0 draw at home in the Greek league.
The result allowed defending champion Olympiakos, which beat Levadiakos 1-0 away Saturday, to extend its lead to 10 points with 13 rounds remaining. Atromitos climbed to third place, six points behind PAOK.
Also Sunday, OFI beat Aris 2-0, Veria drew 1-1 at Panionios and Panathinaikos was held to a 0-0 draw by Giannena.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index
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