League Leaders Barcelona, Dortmund, Milan Stumble
German, Spanish and Italian league leaders Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona, AC Milan made uncharacteristic slip-ups at the weekend, with varying consequences to their title hopes.
Bundesliga trailblazers Dortmund fell to only their third defeat of the season, a 1-0 reverse to Hoffenheim; Barcelona were held 1-1 by Sevilla, and Milan suffered the same fate against Bari.
Despite their setback Dortmund are still on target to claim their seventh ever title as they hold a nine point lead over Bayer Leverkusen after a weekend marked by Bayern Munich's sizzling 6-0 drubbing of Hamburg.
Dortmund fell to a second-half goal from Hoffenheim striker Vedad Ibisevic.
"This game was predestined for such a result," said Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp. "We were better in nearly all areas, but we didn't make it count.
"Our approach to the game was right, so I am not worried by our first defeat of the year."
Barca in contrast are now only two points clear of arch rivals Real Madrid, who gave their title hopes a shot in the arm with a 2-0 win over Hercules.
Milan, knocked out of the Champions League last week by Tottenham, meanwhile are five points to the good over fellow San Siro residents Inter Milan, who came away from their meeting with Brescia also with a 1-1 stalemate.
Antonio Cassano scored a late equalizer for the hosts when they were already down to 10 men after Zlatan Ibrahimovic's sending off to rock-bottom Bari to cancel out Gergely Rudolf's first-half opener.
Milan now face the prospect of losing Ibrahimovic for the top-of-the-table derby with Inter in three weeks, depending on the length of his ban.
Coach Massimiliano Allegri suggested it may be Ibrahimovic's recent dry spell in front of goal that had riled him.
"He has to stay calm, these periods can happen. He shouldn't get annoyed because he hasn't scored for a month, he's giving a lot."
"We knew this game wasn't won before kick-off but we made things difficult by going behind in a terrible first half," added Allegri.
"We're disappointed and bitter. This week we've twice played well but not got what we deserved."
A different fate to Dortmund and company lay in store for French leaders Lille, who emerged from the weekend action three points clear of closest pursuers Rennes after their Belgian starlet Eden Hazard bagged an injury time goal in their 2-1 win over Valenciennes.
The 20-year-old winger received a pass from Rio Mavuba and cracked a low shot into the bottom-left corner in the 91st minute, after Moussa Sow's first-half opener for the hosts had been cancelled out by Gregory Pujol.
"I've scored two lovely goals," said Hazard, who also scored a spectacular opening goal for Lille in their 2-1 win at Marseille last weekend.
"So much the better for me and the team. They're two very important goals. We'll go to Brest (next weekend) with a three-point lead."
In Spain, Barcelona completely dominated the first half and took the lead on the half hour mark through Bojan Krkic who came on for the injured Pedro Rodriguez.
Andres Iniesta floated a pass to Diego Alves who found Bojan and he was able to walk the ball into the net.
After the break it was a different looking Sevilla who pressed forward and got their reward with Jesus Navas heading in an Alvaro Negredo cross.
Barcelona were on the back foot as Navas and Frederic Kanoute had good chances to score but late on the Catalan side rallied and could have won it when Iniesta hit the post.