PARIS, November 20, 2011 (AFP) – Manchester City brushed aside record annual losses of £194.9million pounds, the highest ever recorded in English football, to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League with their 11th win in 12 games, ending Newcastle’s unbeaten run with a 3-1 win at the Etihad Stadium.
City lead Manchester United, 1-0 winners at Swansea, by five points after goals from Mario Balotelli, Micah Richards and Sergio Aguero secured the points, meaning City have made the best ever start to a Premier League campaign.
While City’s embarrassment of riches proved too much for budget conscious Newcastle, Liverpool and Chelsea decided they could leave their record signings on the bench as they went toe to toe at Stamford Bridge, Glen Johnson topping off a 2-1 win for the Reds against his former club.
Blues’ boss Andre Villas-Boas is under pressure after Chelsea’s second successive home loss which came after Daniel Sturridge had first cancelled out Maxi Rodriguez’s first half opener with an equaliser ten minutes after the restart.
Liverpool moved up to sixth, level on points with their hosts yet 12 points off City.
But coach Kenny Dalglish opted not to call on 35 million pound man Andy Carroll, preferring Luis Suarez and Craig Bellamy in attack to the gangling former Newcastle man.
Liverpool shelled out the money on Carroll last January after losing Fernando Torres to Chelsea for 50 million, but the Londoners left the misfiring Spaniard on the bench until late on.
Villas-Boas said of the loss: “It’s a bad blow for us in the Premiership. It’s a big blow.”
Dalglish in contrast saluted “a good day for us.”
In Spain, Real Madrid thanked Cristiano Ronaldo for their crucial third goal at Valencia in a 3-2 win which left the nine-times European champions three points clear of rivals and reigning champions Barcelona.
Barcelona cruised to a 4-0 win over Zaragoza.
Gerard Pique headed home a Xavi Hernandez free-kick and Leo Messi bagged the second just before the break.
Carlos Puyol knocked in a scrappy third and David Villa made it four with a late header.
“Messi is a player who always causes problems and it was the same here. He said he was okay to play and so we decided to start him and it paid off,” said Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, who also backed Villa, initially left on the bench.
Karim Benzema gave Real the lead against Valencia at the Mestalla and Sergio Ramos made it 2-0.
But former Real striker Roberto Soldado managed a brace and it was Ronaldo’s cool finish from an acute angle on 79 minutes which proved decisive.
In Germany, the focus was on the attempted suicide of a top-level referee, Babak Rafati, 41, who was discovered in the bathtub of his hotel room in Cologne having cut open his veins.
On the pitch, defending champions Borussia Dortmund pulled off an upset when teenage star Mario Goetze scored the winner for a 1-0 victory at league leaders Bayern Munich, who saw their lead trimmed to two points.
Dortmund claim second spot in the Bundesliga on goal difference from Borussia Moenchengladbach, whose Marco Reus scored a hat-trick in the 5-0 hammering of Werder Bremen.
In Italy, Juventus went back to the top of Serie A and are the only unbeaten team after a 3-0 win over Palermo which took them ahead of Lazio on goal difference.
Simone Pepe, Alessandro Matri and Claudio Marchisio scored the goals to down the Sicilians.
Udinese fell off the top and are now a point behind Juve in fourth as they lost 2-0 at Parma.
Roma moved up to fifth with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Lecce.
On Saturday Lazio goalkeeper Federico Marchetti was the hero as the capital-based club held out for a 0-0 draw at Napoli.
That was enough to keep them level with Juve on points at the top.
In the Dutch league, Alkmaar lead the way from PSV but had their game at Excelsior called off for bad weather, while PSV moved to within three points after a 3-1 success at De Graafschap.