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United and Madrid sniff fragile leads

Published: Sunday 18 April 2010, 23.55CET
Real Madrid CF and Manchester United FC are a point off the respective Spanish and English summits after pouncing on slips by the leaders. runs the rule over the weekend action.
United and Madrid sniff fragile leads
Paul Scholes is mobbed by his Manchester United team-mates after his derby winner ©Getty Images
Published: Sunday 18 April 2010, 23.55CET

United and Madrid sniff fragile leads

Real Madrid CF and Manchester United FC are a point off the respective Spanish and English summits after pouncing on slips by the leaders. runs the rule over the weekend action.

The leaders in England, Spain and Italy sit atop meagre one-point cushions after the weekend action. assesses the major goings on across the continent.

Two potentially season-defining fixtures lived up to expectation on Saturday. Manchester United FC got the ball rolling at lunchtime, beating city rivals Manchester City FC 1-0 thanks to Paul Scholes's added-time header. United's joy and City's despair were later compounded as Tottenham Hotspur FC followed up their midweek victory against Arsenal FC with a 2-1 triumph over Chelsea FC, who had captain John Terry sent off. Chelsea are a point clear of United and six ahead of Arsenal, who conceded three times in the last ten minutes to lose 3-2 at Wigan Athletic FC. Tottenham are two points clear of City in the race for the final UEFA Champions League qualifying spot.

Real Madrid CF are also back in the hunt for domestic honours after FC Barcelona's seven-match Liga winning streak came to an end against city rivals RCD Espanyol. Barcelona had gone three points clear with victory against Madrid last weekend and maintained that advantage courtesy of a midweek triumph over RC Deportivo La Coruña. They drew a blank against Espanyol, though, and Madrid made no mistake in capitalising with a 2-0 success at home to Valencia CF, reigniting their hopes of wrestling the Liga championship from Josep Guardiola's grasp.

It is a case of 'as you were' in Serie A after leading lights AS Roma and FC Internazionale Milano both picked up valuable victories. Inter scored twice in the closing 15 minutes to beat Juventus 2-0 on Friday night and reclaim the league leadership that had been snatched away from them the previous weekend. The Giallorossi, however, were unbowed, and duly recouped top spot by coming from behind to beat city rivals S.S. Lazio 2-1. They now hold a one-point lead over Inter with four games left, with Milan a further six points in arrears having lost 2-1 at UC Sampdoria.

FC Bayern München sent out an almighty signal of intent with a 7-0 success against Hannover 96 that maintained their two-point lead atop the Bundesliga. FC Schalke 04 had briefly taken the ascendancy when they beat VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-1 but were soon pegged back by Bayern, for whom Arjen Robben scored a hat-trick. Bayer 04 Leverkusen are now nine points off the pace – along with Werder Bremen – having succumbed 2-1 at VfB Stuttgart.

Olympique de Marseille have a five point-cushion at the head of Ligue 1 following their second last-gasp victory in three days, Taye Taiwo's 95th-minute penalty earning them a 2-1 win against US Boulogne. AJ Auxerre are OM's closest challengers having beaten FC Lorient 4-1, while a further four points back are Bayern's UEFA Champions League semi-final opponents Olympique Lyonnais – after their 2-2 draw with titleholders FC Girondins de Bordeaux – and Montpellier Hérault SC, who drew 1-1 with Toulouse FC. LOSC Lille Métropole, 4-0 victors against AS Monaco FC, trail by a further point.

RSC Anderlecht won their 30th Belgian championship with a 2-1 win against closest rivals Club Brugge KV on Sunday. The outcome of the Eredivisie title in the nearby Netherlands remains up in the air, though, after FC Twente and AFC Ajax both won to leave the former a point clear heading into the final round of games on 2 May. There is also just a solitary point between Turkish Super League leaders Bursaspor and Fenerbahçe SK after both recorded weekend victories, the latter against Istanbul rivals Beşiktaş JK in a match which saw three players sent off in the closing moments.

Last updated: 19/04/10 9.51CET

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