LONDON (Reuters) – Leicester City kept alive their remarkable title challenge by climbing back to the top of the Premier League as Barcelona also recaptured top spot and Bayern Munich and Paris St Germain maintained their runaway form.
Leicester City moved three points clear at the top of the Premier League as striker Jamie Vardy scored for the first time in eight matches to help them to a 3-0 home win over Stoke City.
Diego Costa’s first-half goal earned Chelsea a 1-0 win at Arsenal to dent the title challenge of their London rivals whose day was made worse by the sending-off of defender Per Mertesacker.
Manchester City were held to a 2-2 draw at West Ham United, Tottenham remained fourth after a 3-1 win at Crystal Palace and Manchester United were booed off after a 1-0 home defeat by Southampton courtesy of a late goal from new signing Charlie Austin.
Champions Barcelona recaptured top spot when they edged a 2-1 win at Malaga thanks to Lionel Messi’s second-half winner and Atletico Madrid were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Sevilla.
It was a good weekend for Barca, who have a game in hand over their main rivals, as third-placed Real Madrid also dropped points when they could only manage a 1-1 stalemate at Real Betis.
In new coach Zinedine Zidane’s first away match since taking over from Rafa Benitez, Betis took a surprise seventh-minute lead thanks to a stunning Alvaro Cejudo volley.
Karim Benzema levelled for Real 19 minutes from time and Betis held out against waves of attacks to leave Real four points adrift of the top two with just over half the season played.
Napoli stayed top of Serie A with an impressive 4-2 win at Sampdoria while Juventus beat AS Roma 1-0, their 11th league win in a row, to stay two points behind in second.
Inter Milan lost ground on the leaders when they were held 1-1 at home by relegation-threatened Carpi, leaving them a further four points behind, and were joined in third place by Fiorentina who beat Torino 2-0.
Bayern Munich stayed eight points clear at the top after Robert Lewandowski’s double gave them a 2-1 win at Hamburg SV as the Bundesliga resumed following the winter break.
Second-placed Borussia Dortmund won 3-1 at Borussia Moenchengladbach and Hertha Berlin, who are third, lost ground when they were held 0-0 at home by Augsburg.
Leaders Paris Saint-Germain maintained their 21-point leadat the top of Ligue 1 after thrashing Angers 5-1 with Angel Di Maria scoring twice.
Monaco remain in second after outclassing Toulouse 4-0,while Nice beat Lorient 2-1 to keep pace with the principality club.
Marseille extended their unbeaten run to nine league gamesafter drawing 1-1 at Lyon, who equalised through Corentin Tolisso after Remy Cabella’s opener.
Bottom-club Troyes won their first game of the season whenthey beat Lille 3-1 away.
After 22 matches, PSG are top on 60 points, Monaco have 39in second and Nice are third on 36.
Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven were indebted to Mexicans Hector Moreno and Andres Guardado in a 4-2 win over Twente Enschede on Sunday to close on leaders Ajax Amsterdam.
Moreno scored twice and Guardado had three assists as PSV moved to within three points of Ajax, who beat Vitesse 1-0.
Third-placed Feyenoord stumbled with a 4-2 defeat at AZ Alkmaar — including a hat-trick from Vincent Janssen — and now trail PSV by eight points.
Sporting Lisbon kept their noses in front in the Primeira Liga with a 3-1 win at Pacos de Ferreira as second-placed Benfica, champions for the last two years, triumphed 3-1 at Arouca.
Sporting lead Benfica by two points with FC Porto, who have a game in hand, a further six points adrift, while Sporting Braga closed the gap in fourth after a 5-1 thumping of Rio Ave.
Champions Gent continued their pace-setting form with a 3-0 win at Standard Liege to stay three points clear of Club Brugge, who beat Waasland Beveren 2-1.
Anderlecht defeated Sporting de Charleroi 2-1 to maintain their challenge, two points further back in third.
KV Oostende faltered with a 2-1 defeat by KV Kortrijk to lose ground in fourth.
Olympiakos Piraeus maintained their 16-point lead at the top of the Super League with a 1-0 win against Skoda Xanthi as AEK Athens cemented their grip on second place with a 1-0 victory against PAOK Salonika.
Panathinaikos, whose fans delayed the game by 25 minutes with an offensive banner protesting against sanctions for crowd violence, edged into third with a 2-0 win at Levadiakos.
(Editing by Rob Hodgetts)