Lionel Messi scored another hat trick as Barcelona took its winning streak to 11 games on Sunday, while Arsenal advanced in the FA Cup. It was a weekend of draws in Italy and France; Juventus and Roma were both held by relegation-threatened teams in Serie A and Lyon failed to extend its lead in the French league.
Here is a look at the main action across Europe:
Messi’s hat trick helped Barcelona sweep aside Levante 5-0 and keep his team one point behind Spanish league leader Real Madrid. It also took his season tally to 26 league goals, putting him just two behind Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi set up Neymar for Barcelona’s first in the 17th minute at Camp Nou, then scored the second, third and fourth himself. Luis Suarez came away with the goal of the night, though, polishing off the win with a acrobatic scissor kick.
While Barcelona stayed on Madrid’s heels, Atletico Madrid stumbled to a 2-0 defeat at Celta Vigo that left the defending champions seven points adrift.
Third-tier Bradford produced another FA Cup upset against Premier League opposition by beating Sunderland 2-0 to reach the quarterfinals for the first time in 39 years, while defending champion Arsenal ousted Middlesbrough by the same score.
Jon Stead scored for a fifth consecutive round in the second half after an own goal from John O’Shea gifted Bradford the lead in the third.
Bradford, which beat Premier League leader Chelsea to reach the fifth round, is now only one win from a Wembley Stadium semifinal.
It was a routine day, though, for Arsenal. Middlesbrough, which is second in the second tier, never looked like emulating its fourth-round victory over Premier League champion Manchester City.
Olivier Giroud scored both of Arsenal’s goals to take his tally in the season to 10.
The day’s all-Premier League encounter was closer, with Aston Villa beating Leicester 2-1.
The bottom two clubs in Serie A earned draws against the top two teams, maintaining Juventus’ seven-point lead over Roma.
Arturo Vidal missed a late penalty kick that could have been the winner for Juventus, which was held 2-2 at relegation-threatened Cesena for its second draw in three matches.
Earlier, Roma was held scoreless by last-place Parma for a humiliating fifth consecutive draw at home.
With Carlos Tevez suspended, Alvaro Morata and Claudio Marchisio responded before halftime to Milan Djuric’s opener for Cesena but Franco Brienza equalized for the hosts in the 70th.
Struggling AC Milan was fortunate to come away with a 1-1 draw at home with Empoli after ending with nine men. City rival Inter Milan won 4-1 at 10-man Atalanta with Fredy Guarin scoring twice.
Lyon missed the chance to move four points clear of title rivals Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille by drawing 1-1 away to Lorient.
The top three all drew this weekend, meaning Lyon stays two points ahead of Marseille and PSG – who conceded late goals when they drew their home games 2-2.
Clinton Njie grabbed the equalizer for Lyon in the 78th minute of a closely-contested match after Ghana forward Jordan Ayew gave Lorient the lead early in the second half.
Bordeaux beat Saint-Etienne 1-0, while Guingamp continued its resurgent form with a 2-0 win at last-place Metz.
Hertha Berlin lost 2-0 at home to Freiburg and promoted Paderborn left both sides in the Bundesliga relegation zone with a 2-1 win at Hannover.
Freiburg joined Hertha on 21 points but has a better goal difference. Both sides are three points ahead of bottom side Stuttgart.