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Published : 2014-02-09 19:08
Updated : 2014-02-09 19:08

LONDON (AP) ― This season at Chelsea, the Special One might well be Eden Hazard. The Belgium international produced another superb display on Saturday, scoring a hat trick as Jose Mourinho’s team moved top of the Premier League with a 3-0 win over Newcastle while its main rivals in the race for the title struggled on the road.

Liverpool exposed previous leader Arsenal’s frailties in a 5-1 drubbing of the Gunners at Anfield and third-placed Manchester City was held to a goalless draw at Norwich.

Hazard, coming off an excellent performance in Chelsea’s surprise win at City on Monday, scored twice within seven minutes in the first half and added another goal from the penalty spot after the interval as the Blues leapfrogged bitter rival Arsenal.

Liverpool went on a scoring rampage at lunchtime, netting four times in the first 20 minutes to end Arsenal’s eight-match unbeaten sequence with a bang.

“It was a very poor day. We were poor defensively, offensively,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said after the hammering. “Liverpool played very well, so congratulations to them. But it was a poor performance on a day when we couldn’t afford it.”

The loss will again raise questions about Arsenal’s abilities to win its first title since 2004 with the Gunners having already lost 6-3 to Manchester City earlier this season.

Spain

Real Madrid forwards Gareth Bale and Jese Rodriguez each scored and set up goals for Karim Benzema in a 4-2 win over Villarreal on Saturday, giving the powerhouse a share of the Spanish league lead after Atletico Madrid stumbled to a 1-0 loss at Almeria.

With leading scorer Cristiano Ronaldo serving the first of a three-game suspension, Bale stepped up by opening in the seventh minute at the Santiago Bernabeu before he crossed for Benzema’s first goal in the 25th.

After Villarreal’s Mario Gaspar struck in the 43rd, Jese took what proved to be Madrid’s winner in the 64th before Villarreal forward Giovani Dos Santos curled in a free kick in the 69th. Jese found Benzema for his double in the 76th.

If any Madrid supporters were worried how their team would fare without Ronaldo and his league-leading 22 goals, they needn’t have as Carlo Ancelotti’s side extended its unbeaten streak to 23 games in all competitions.

Instead of struggling, Benzema recorded his 12th and 13th league goals, Bale provided more arguments he was worthy of his world-record transfer, and the 20-year-old Jese gave Madrid’s fans more hope they have finally found their next homegrown star.

“It’s great to be back on the pitch and get a goal and an assist as well,” Bale, who had missed two games with a leg injury, said. “(Cristiano) is obviously missed. He is the world’s best player. We knew we had to do the job without him.”

Germany 

Bayer Leverkusen’s Son Heung-min scores against Borussia Moenchengladbach on Friday. Leverkusen won 1-0.
(AP-Yonhap)
Bayern Munich overcame a difficult start to beat Nuremberg 2-0 in the Bavarian derby and restore its 13-point advantage in the Bundesliga on Saturday, while Borussia Dortmund routed Werder Bremen 5-1.

Nuremberg struck the crossbar through Hiroshi Kiyotake in the fourth minute and forced several saves from Manuel Neuer before Mario Mandzukic scored with the visitors’ first real chance in the 18th.

Mario Goetze sent David Alaba through on the left, and the Bayern defender crossed for Mandzukic to get ahead of his marker and convert.

The Croatian striker then crossed for Philipp Lahm to effectively seal the result in the 49th, ensuring Bayern stretched its league record unbeaten run to 45 games.

“It’s a quality that Bayern scores one goal from one chance,” Nuremberg coach Gertjan Verbeek said. “The momentum was then gone. The first half cost us a lot of energy and the belief wasn’t quite as strong. After the quick second goal it was practically impossible.”

Nuremberg was dealt two early blows when striker Daniel Ginczek and defender Timmy Chandler went off with injuries. The club said Ginczek was ruled out for the rest of the season after tearing the cruciate ligament in his right knee, while Chandler tore a meniscus in his left knee, keeping the United States defender out for eight to 10 weeks.

Italy

Gonzalo Higuain scored twice as Napoli came from behind to beat AC Milan 3-1 and reinforce its bid for a Champions League place after Fiorentina’s earlier victory over Atalanta in Serie A on Saturday.

Third-place Napoli remained three points ahead of Fiorentina, which won 2-0.

“We played with high intensity and skill, at a very high level,” Napoli coach Rafa Benitez said. “Higuain is making the difference but his teammates helped him a lot.

“It happens that you make mistakes in some matches but today we saw a team that is growing.”

Adel Taarabt took less than eight minutes of his Serie A debut to fire Milan in front, racing half the length of the pitch before curling a wonderful finish into the bottom right corner.

Gokhan Inler leveled three minutes later with a deflected effort into the top right corner.

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