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Chelsea devastates ManU, La Liga race gets excited, Seedorf begins with victory

20 January 2014 [13:24] - TODAY.AZ
Chelsea kept the pressure on English Premier League title rivals Arsenal and Manchester City with a dominant victory over Manchester United -- and heaped more trouble on the defending champions.

Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o grabbed his first hat trick for Chelsea to seal a 3-1 win Sunday which edged Chelsea to within two points of league leaders Arsenal.

Manchester United had started strongly at Stamford Bridge and the opening strike from Eto'o, which took a heavy deflection, came against the run of play.

United pressed on and both Belgian teenage winger Adnan Januzaj and England striker Danny Welbeck came close to equalizing but it was effectively game over when Eto'o pounced again on the stroke of halftime, poking in Gary Cahill's cross.

The pair combined again after the break, with Eto'o dinking in Cahill's rebounded header before dancing away to celebrate his hat-trick.

The home side took their foot off the gas in the closing stages of the match and Javier Hernandez slid in to grab a consolation goal for United.

But United boss David Moyes could only roll his eyes in despair when his captain Nemanja Vidic was shown a straight red card for a late challenge on Eden Hazard in the closing seconds of the match.

Chelsea's victory also brought up 100 EPL victories for manager Jose Mourinho in just 142 matches.

The feisty Portuguese manager might be pleased to know that he has ticked off 100 Premier League wins faster than his old rival Sir Alex Ferguson, who needed 162 matches in charge of Manchester United to reach the milestone.

For United, who are seventh in the table and 14 points off Arsenal's lead, and Moyes, victory over their chief rivals would be tonic enough for now.

"Of course 100 matches is nice, it's one more fantastic thing for my career," Mourinho told broadcaster Sky Sports. "But the most important thing is to win the match.

"It now opens a little gap between us, Man Utd and Liverpool and we are in contact with Arsenal and Manchester City."

Commenting on the title defense, Moyes added: "It's a long way away. We'll never say it's gone for us and we'll do our best to get back in it if we can."

In Sunday's other match, Tottenham moved level on points with fourth-placed Liverpool with a 3-1 away win at Swansea.

Emmanuel Adebayor scored twice while Swansea defender Chico Flores inadvertently turned the ball into his own net.

Tottenham are unbeaten in the EPL since Tim Sherwood replaced Andre Villas-Boas at the helm while Swansea, under the leadership of Michael Laudrup, have now gone eight league games without a win and hover near the drop zone.

Atletico Madrid threw away a golden chance to take the lead in the Spanish league as they settled for a draw with Sevilla.

David Villa found his scoring boots again to fire the home side into the lead only for a rash challenge from Juanfran to undo his good work.

The defender pulled back Sevilla's Carlos Bacca in the box late on and Ivan Rakitic coolly slotted the resulting penalty beyond the reaching fingertips of keeper Thibaut Courtois

Atletico stay second behind La Liga champions Barcelona, who were also held to a 1-1 draw by Levante.

Loukas Vyntra headed the home side into the lead in the first half only for Gerard Pique to do likewise at the opposite end of the pitch to level the score.

Barcelona, who welcomed star man Lionel Messi back for his first league start of 2014, poured forward but the home side dug in and delivered a defensive display which earned them a share of the points, a result which the Levante home fans joyously celebrated like a victory.

The Spanish league is proving to be as fiercely fought as the EPL with Barcelona and Atletico both on 51 points with Real Madrid one point further back.

At least in France Paris Saint-Germain can bask five points clear at the top of Ligue 1 following a 5-0 thrashing of Nantes.

Brazil centre-back Thaigo Silva opened the scoring for PSG after just 10 minutes and the league's top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic soon doubled their advantage from the penalty spot.

Thiago Motta and Edinson Cavani got on the scoresheet before star striker Ibrahimovic sealed the rout.

Monaco ticked off a 2-0 win over Toulouse thanks to goals from Layvin Kurzawa and Lucas Ocampos.

The victory for Claudio Ranieri's men kept them within touching distance of PSG.

"It's an important win but we need to back it up," Ranieri said. "We hadn't played well in our last two matches and it's good for the group's confidence to rediscover winning ways."

It was an anxious wait for new AC Milan coach Clarence Seedorf but the player-turned-coach had Mario Balotelli to thank for making it a winning start to his management career.

The former Manchester City striker stroked home a late penalty, after Kaka was brought down, to seal a 1-0 win over Verona Sunday.

"We dedicate this win to the new coach," said Balotelli. "Because the first game in charge of a team is always difficult."

Milan are 11th in Serie A, which is led comfortably by Juventus from Roma, Napoli and Fiorentina.


/CNN/

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