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Published : 2014-01-12 19:15
Updated : 2014-01-12 19:15

LONDON (AP) ― Chelsea moved provisionally top of the English Premier League by beating Hull 2-0 on Saturday, while Manchester United ended a sorry run of three straight defeats to lift the gloom surrounding the reigning champions.

Sunderland’s Ki Sung-yueng (center) celebrates his goal against Fulham with teammates on Saturday.
(AFP-Yonhap News)
Meanwhile, there were huge wins for Sunderland and West Ham over fellow relegation rivals at the foot of the table, leaving the battle to avoid the drop up for grabs with the bottom 11 teams separated by only six points.

Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres scored second-half goals to seal a fourth straight victory for Chelsea, which climbed above Arsenal and Manchester City in the standings ahead of their games on Monday and Sunday respectively.

United had moved to the brink of a crisis, by its high standards, after losing three games in six days to kick off 2014, but a 2-0 win over Swansea will boost the confidence among David Moyes’ squad and keeps his seventh-place team in touch with the top four.

Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck scored goals in a 13-minute span at the start of the second half for United.

Everton will spend the night in fourth thanks to a 2-0 win over Norwich and Tottenham also boosted its chances of finishing in the Champions League spots by earning a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace, which slipped to last place.

That’s because Sunderland, which started the day at the bottom, beat Fulham 4-1 mainly thanks to a hat trick by winger Adam Johnson. West Ham was next to last at kickoff but climbed out of the relegation zone with a 2-0 win at Cardiff, despite playing the final stages with 10 men following James Tomkins’ sending-off.

England midfielder Adam Lallana scored Southampton’s winner in a 1-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion in the day’s other game.

Spain

Spanish co-leaders Atletico Madrid and Barcelona drew 0-0 in their first league meeting of the season on Saturday.

The teams finished the first half of the season tied with 50 points after an exciting, back-and-forth showdown at Vicente Calderon Stadium yielded no winner.

Barcelona was troubled by Atletico pair Diego Costa and Arda Turan throughout, while second-half substitute Lionel Messi enjoyed the visitors’ best chances as the Barcelona forward headed wide before forcing goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois into a clutch stop in the 81st.

Neymar also came on in the second half for Barcelona but the Brazil striker made little impact as the teams played out their third straight draw following the summer Spanish Super Cup series.

Also, Athletic Bilbao maintained its grip on fourth by routing Almeria 6-1, while Valencia’s season-long slide continued with a 2-1 loss at Celta Vigo.

Italy

Parma ended its poor streak at the Stadio Picchi by beating relegation-threatened Livorno 3-0 in Serie A on Saturday.

Parma had never won at Livorno but got off to the perfect start. With less than two minutes on the clock, Jonathan Biabiany went past a defender and crossed to the far side of the penalty area for Raffaele Palladino to volley low into the bottom right corner.

Palladino, who spent a season on loan at Livorno, almost doubled his tally in similar circumstances 15 minutes later but volleyed narrowly past the right post.

Amauri sealed the match three minutes from time, firing home the rebound after Massimo Gobbi’s effort crashed off the right upright. Former Juventus striker Amauri then scored his third goal in two matches with an unstoppable penalty into the bottom right corner after Emerson had fouled Pedro Mendes.

Livorno’s fourth consecutive defeat leaves the team provisionally two points off safety and 17th-placed Bologna.

France

Defending champion Paris Saint-Germain moved five points clear of Monaco at the top of the French league after coming from behind for a hard-fought 2-1 win at last-place Ajaccio on Saturday

Argentina winger Ezequiel Lavezzi and France midfielder Blaise Matuidi scored, with star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic setting up both despite having a poor game by his high standards.

Forward Eduardo gave Ajaccio the lead in the sixth minute.

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