The action kicked off in Milano on Friday as Inter took over the Serie A lead with a feel-good victory over Juventus, but had less than 48 hours to savor the top spot as Roma came from behind to defeat hated cross-town rival Lazio and re-take the Serie A lead on Sunday. Arsenal definitively slipped up while Tottenham completed a perfect week to solidify its Champions League hopes. Derbies in Manchester, Rosario, Barcelona and Buenos Aires made for a thrilling week-end.

The picture in La Liga got a little tighter at the top of the table after the scoreless Catalonyan derby. The match was characteristically intense, a relentless physical battle. It was stunning to see a stadium full of Barcelona residents passionately and vociferously standing against Barca. Espanyol fought and resisted well throughout the match, even created a couple of scoring chances, but the determinative moment was Dani Alves’ send-off. Down to ten with a half hour left proved to make Barca’s task unreachable this time, leaving Guardiola and Xavi scratching their heads. Senor Mourinho surely noticed.

While Barca dropped two precious points on Saturday, Real Madrid passed a key test against Valencia on Sunday to narrow the gap to one point with five rounds to play. Madrid’s schedule looks more approachable the rest of the way, as Barca still has tricky away matches at Sevilla and Villareal. Higuain and Cristiano Ronaldo resumed scoring for Madrid in a match that lacked any spark for long stretches. Valencia’s David Silva, rumored to me on the move to Madrid over the summer, hit the crossbar at 0-1. It was a key moment. Ronaldo scored shortly after to put the game out of reach for Los Che. Elsewhere in Spain, Zaragoza earned a valuable point away at Athletic Bilbao to support its relegation battle. Tenerife boosted its survival chances, Mallorca won in its quest for a Champions League spot and Sevilla is also back on track. Atletico Madrid? Don’t ask…

Paul Scholes’ dramatic injury time goal inflicted fresh hurt on Man City hearts and rekindled Man United’s Premiership prospects when coupled with Chelsea’s terry-ble defeat at Spurs later in the day. It was a harsh result for Man City, who dominated good stretches of the match, yet the result is consistent with history. United’s claim of all three points in this fashion solidified City’s hatred for everything red in Manchester, and there were a couple of incidents after the match where Red faces got in the way of Blue fists. Mancini is on very wobbly ground now and only a Champions League spot might save his job.

City’s loss was perfect for Spurs’ mission and the opportunity was seized. In all fairness, Tottenham’s success can be largely attributed to Chelsea abysmal performance at White Hart Lane. Incredibly poor displays by Deco, Ballack and Paulo Ferreira. John Terry and Drogba were pathetic. Chelsea looked battered and disheveled. But for Roman Pavlyuchenko’s comical mis-haps, the score could have been run up. Tottenham is now in excellent position for the fourth Champions League spot, a feat not accomplished since the 1980s, having beaten Arsenal and Chelsea in the same week.

Tottenham supporters finally have reason to smile again

Tottenham supporters finally have reason to smile again

Looking ahead, Chelsea still has control of its destiny, but a very difficult away match at Liverpool with determine its Premiership fate. Man United’s toughest test is next week at home against Tottenham. Liverpool and Aston Villa won to remain in the mathematical mix for Champions League, while Arsenal is effectively resigned to third place, yet again, after a shocking defeat at Wigan despite being ahead 2-0 in the 80th minute.

The most exciting moment of Lazio-Roma came at the end of the match, when every Roma soul in the stadium from President Rosella Sensi to each of the players and coaches was jumping with elation as if the World Cup was theirs. The energy was firmly Laziale at the start of the match, on and off the pitch. Roma showed very little on the field, its leaders De Rossi and Totti were substituted in the second half and this did not seem like a match Roma was going to win. Yet somehow the giallo-rossi pulled three points through sheer will power and a couple of Mirko Vucinic strikes to boost greatly their Scudetto chances. Roma has not lost a Serie A match since October of last year! That is an incredible run that they hope to extend for another four weeks.

Inter is going into its Champions League semifinal match against Barcelona with great confidence and that good feeling that comes from beating Juve. Still on track for three titles, Mourinho’s men know that this season can end up gloriously, but they can also end with nothing. The players seem focused and unified. Inter now need a Roma slip-up to re-claim the lead. Sampdoria beat a ten-men Milan with a last minute winner to end Milan’s Scudetto ambitions and boost their own Champions League ambitions. Napoli also won to keep pace, while Palermo earned an improbable draw at Cagliari with two goals in the last three minutes to keep their Champions League hopes alive.

view spectacular goal by Douglas Maicon from Inter – Juventus 2-0

In Argentina the 152nd meeting between bitter rivals San Lorenzo and Huracan generated a great spectacle on and off the field. Amidst a sensational atmosphere, the match was fairly even through the first half – for those who could keep an eye n the game itself. San Lorenzo pulled away in the second half after Huracan were reduced to ten, giving its passionate followers something to be enthusiastic about in an otherwise miserable campaign. Racing boosted its survival chances with a big win against Velez Sarfield in a match marked by violence among the fans and ten minutes of added time at the end. River started the Angel Cappa era with a victory and a renewed spirit, while Boca’s calamitous season continued with a loss at lowly Gimnasia La Plata.

The biggest match of the week-end took place in Rosario, where struggling Rosario Central, fighting for survival, and Newell’s Old Boys met in what some consider the second greatest derby of Argentina after Boca – River. Central got a dream start going ahead early, but Newell’s equalized twelve minutes later from a penalty and that’s how it ended. Each team finished with nine players on the field in a typical war-like encounter that always plays out bitterly. At 1-1, everyone went home less than happy but with pride intact and hope for the next day.