FC Barcelona, Manchester United FC and AC Milan edged closer to winning their respective league titles with victories this weekend, while Borussia Dortmund must wait before wrapping up the Bundesliga crown. UEFA.com reviews the best of the action from across the continent.
The gap in the Liga title race remains eight points after Barcelona and Real Madrid CF warmed up for their UEFA Champions League semi-final opener on Wednesday with wins. Both teams made wholesale changes to their lineups following Madrid's midweek Copa del Rey final triumph and it was they who posted the more emphatic result, 6-3 at third-placed Valencia CF. "A weight has been lifted now that we won the Copa del Rey in what was a very tough match," said defender Raúl Albiol after Gonzalo Higuaín plundered a hat-trick. Leaders Barcelona overcame CA Osasuna 2-0 in their game, Lionel Messi bringing up a half-century of goals for the club this term with a late second.
Manchester United remain well placed to claim the Premier League title after Javier Hernández's late header earned them a 1-0 win against Everton FC. "I think there's a winning attitude among all the players," said United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. "They refuse to give in and they have a determination to do better." Next up for United are third-placed Arsenal FC, who are nine points adrift having lost 2-1 at Bolton Wanderers FC. Chelsea FC, 3-0 victors against West Ham United FC, lie three points better off in second. The Blues go to Old Trafford on 8 May.
Milan took another stride towards their first Scudetto in seven years thanks to a late Robinho winner in their 1-0 success at Brescia Calcio. The victory lifted the Rossoneri eight points clear at the top, with FC Internazionale Milano now second after their 2-1 defeat of fourth-placed S.S. Lazio combined with a 2-1 reverse for SSC Napoli at US Città di Palermo. "We're not planning any title celebrations right now," said Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri. "We just need to relax over Easter." At the bottom, UC Sampdoria won 1-0 at basement side AS Bari to climb out of danger and consign their opponents to relegation.
Dortmund could have wrapped up the Bundesliga title on Saturday but instead allowed challengers Bayer 04 Leverkusen another glimmer of hope by succumbing 1-0 to relegation-threatened VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach. Leverkusen had earlier beaten TSG 1899 Hoffenheim 2-1 and now lie five points shy of the summit with three games remaining. Meanwhile, third spot and the final UEFA Champions League qualifying berth still belongs to Hannover 96 after fourth-placed FC Bayern München could only draw 1-1 at struggling Eintracht Frankfurt.
Olympique de Marseille enjoyed a memorable weekend that began when they retained the French League Cup with a 1-0 success against Montpellier Hérault SC on Saturday. "You get a taste for victory," said OM coach Didier Deschamps. "Last year's win, after many years without winning anything, got everyone going. It's the same this year." They were then given further reason for cheer the following day when Ligue 1 leaders LOSC Lille Métropole could only draw 1-1 at FC Lorient, leaving them just two points ahead of Marseille but having played a game more. Five points behind the champions in fourth are Paris Saint-Germain FC, level with Olympique Lyonnais after their 2-2 result at Stade Brestois 29.
It was also a good weekend for the League Cup holders in Portugal as SL Benfica retained their trophy, the UEFA Europa League semi-finalists triumphing courtesy of a 2-1 win against FC Paços de Ferreira. There were celebrations in Croatia too as NK Dinamo Zagreb wrapped up their domestic league, while FC Twente now lead the way in the Netherlands. Their 2-1 success at ADO Den Haag leaves them a point ahead of AFC Ajax after previous leaders PSV Eindhoven lost 3-1 at Feyenoord. In Scotland, finally, Rangers FC goalkeeper Allan McGregor saved a penalty in a 0-0 draw with Celtic FC that kept his side one point better off than their neighbours.
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