Borussia Dortmund have one hand on the Bundesliga title after extending their lead to eight points with four matches remaining, while it was also a dream weekend for AC Milan, whose nearest challengers stumbled, and, to a lesser extent, FC Barcelona, who maintained their healthy cushion over Real Madrid CF with a draw in the Clásico. Olympique de Marseille were another side with every reason to be cheerful as UEFA.com discovers in our pick of the weekend's domestic action.
It was a tale of two penalties in the first of four tussles between Madrid and Barcelona. The points seemed set for the Camp Nou side when Lionel Messi scored from the spot after David Villa had been fouled by Raúl Albiol, who was sent off. Cristiano Ronaldo's spot kick levelled matters with eight minutes remaining, however, following Daniel Alves's foul on compatriot Marcelo. Attention now turns to Wednesday and part two of the Clásico series: the Copa del Rey final. Valencia CF, meanwhile, made it 12 goals and nine points from their last three games thanks to a 3-0 victory at bottom-of-the-table UD Almería.
Though Manchester United FC's treble hopes were ended by a 1-0 loss to Manchester City FC in the first of the weekend's FA Cup semi-finals, they will have been heartened by the late turn of events in the game involving title rivals Arsenal FC. Yaya Touré's second-half strike earned Manchester City a place in their first major cup final since 1981, but matters improved for United 24 hours later in north London, when Arsenal and Liverpool FC traded added-time penalties, the result being a 1-1 draw for the Gunners and a six-point deficit to the Red Devils with as many games remaining. Stoke City FC won the other semi-final emphatically, defeating Bolton Wanderers FC 5-0, as they reached the FA Cup showpiece for the first time.
Dortmund fans will have the champagne on ice after their team moved eight points clear with four games left courtesy of a 3-0 home victory against SC Freiburg. That came a few hours after their only challengers, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, lost 5-1 to outgoing champions FC Bayern München, whose striker Mario Gomez scored his fifth hat-trick of the season. That all means Dortmund will be crowned champions for the seventh time, and first since 2002, if they beat relegation-threatened VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach next weekend and Leverkusen slip up at home to TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.
It turned out to be a great weekend for Milan, who edged closer to their first Scudetto in seven years thanks to a 3-0 success at struggling UC Sampdoria and the capitulation elsewhere of their closest rivals. Edinson Cavani had a penalty saved as second-placed SSC Napoli lost 2-1 at home to Udinese Calcio, while FC Internazionale Milano suffered a 2-0 defeat by Parma FC. "We are leading and we have to keep going to the end," said Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri.
The Ligue 1 title race took another twist as leaders LOSC Lille Métropole's advantage was whittled down to one point on Sunday night. Lille were held to a draw by FC Girondins de Bordeaux before Olympique de Marseille took on Valenciennes FC, coming from behind to win 2-1 after they – and their hosts – had been reduced to ten men. "With 25 minutes to go, the media would have been saying we were a bunch of losers," commented Marseille coach Didier Deschamps. "But this was proof of our character and desire. It was a wholehearted victory." Third-placed Olympique Lyonnais's challenge faltered with a 1-0 reverse against Paris Saint-Germain FC, who are now a point back in fourth.
FC Twente's hopes of retaining their Eredivisie title suffered another setback as they were held to their second successive 1-1 draw. After Rogier Meijer's 89th-minute goal cancelled out Denny Landzaat's opener in that game, PSV Eindhoven prevailed 2-1 at Heracles to edge ahead on goal difference, with AFC Ajax just a point behind.
In Malta, Valletta FC clinched their 20th league title thanks to a 1-0 success against Marsaxlokk FC, while FK Partizan's hold on the Serbian Super League slipped following a 1-0 home defeat by FK Vojvodina. The loss means they have been joined at the summit by FK Crvena zvezda – 1-0 winners at FK Metalac – with Vojvodina three points back following what was their ninth consecutive win since the winter break.
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