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Sociedad, Nice surprise leaders

Paris: Established giants Juventus and Bayern Munich, plus minnows Real Sociedad and Nice top the tables in continental Europe’s major leagues this weekend.

For Juventus, their 4-0 away thrashing of Torino Sunday night meant the defending champions grabbed top spot and Bayern beat VFL Wolfsburg 1-0 in Germany to maintain their five-point lead.

Yet in France and Spain, smaller clubs are still hogging the spotlight.

Real Sociedad drew 0-0 at European Champions League reigning champions Real Madrid to leave them a point ahead of Real Mallorca, and four points ahead of Valencia.

Little Nice are setting the pace in France and their 2-0 win at Burgundy Club Auxerre meant they have a one-point lead over Lyon and a four-point margin over fellow Riviera side Marseille, following the weekend matches.

Juventus’ Czech international Pavel Nedved, in irresistible form this season, was the architect of both their first-half goals.

In the sixth minute he floated over a free-kick from out on the left for Alessandro del Piero whose back-heel flick beat Torino goalkeeper Luca Bucci at the near post. Twelve minutes from the interval, Nedved picked up the pieces after a Torino attack broke down and picked out Marco di Vaio’s intelligent run. The Italy international, who scored in the 2-1 win over AC Milan last week, was celebrating again after finding the bottom corner with a low right foot shot.

Nedved got on the scoresheet himself six minutes after the interval with a rising left foot drive before Dutchman Edgar Davids completed the scoring with a rare goal two minutes from time.

Torino’s misery was compounded by Marco Ferrante’s 73rd minute penalty miss. Juve, still unbeaten, rose to the summit in Italy with 24 points from ten matches, one more than second-placed Inter who were held by AS Roma Saturday.

Andrea Pirlo converted two second-half penalties as AC Milan edged Parma 2-1 in an unconvincing display at the San Siro to cement third place in the table and Inter dropped a place to second after drawing 2-2 at Roma Saturday.

Bayern Munich stayed ahead of the chasing pack with a 1-0 win over VFL Wolfsburg after a Roque Santa Cruz goal maintained their five-point lead in the German championship.

Defending champions Borussia Dortmund got the better of Bayern’s co-tenants 1860 Munich, also Saturday, with an early goal by Brazilian Ewerthon to win by the same score to remain second.

Real Sociedad hung on to their place at the top of the Spanish first division, and their ten-game unbeaten streak, with a 0-0 draw at Real Madrid Sunday.

The San Sebastian side have 22 points from their ten games and are one point ahead of Real Mallorca, who won 2-1 at Racing Santander.

Despite the fact that neither side was able to score, the battle royal between Madrid and their Basque visitors was not short on excitement and opportunities fell to both sides.

Valencia started the day in second, but slipped to third and stay on 18 points after going down 0-1 at Osasuna.

Nice won 2-0 at Auxerre Saturday with two late goal to consolidate their lead in the French championship and yet further dent the Burgundy club’s faltering season.

Goals from Adekamni Olufade and Sammy Traore in the 88th minute and then in injury time left Guy Roux’ men languishing in mid-table, adding to their elimination from the Champions League first round. (AFP)

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