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Minor gains for PSG, major step for United

Published: Monday 18 March 2013
Paris Saint-Germain FC failed to make the most of bad results for their rivals, but Manchester United FC took another stride towards the Premier League title, as explains.

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Published: Monday 18 March 2013

Minor gains for PSG, major step for United

Paris Saint-Germain FC failed to make the most of bad results for their rivals, but Manchester United FC took another stride towards the Premier League title, as explains.

It was a good weekend for the teams at the top of Europe's highest profile leagues, but while Manchester United FC were able to take maximum advantage of a stumble from rivals Manchester City FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC missed the chance to open up a seven-point gap in France. As for FC Bayern München, FC Barcelona and Juventus, all three maintained their healthy respective leads with victories, as explains.

PSG increased their Ligue 1 cushion by one point to five, but they could have left their rivals even further in their wake with a win at AS Saint-Étienne. Instead, the capital club let a two-goal lead slip to draw 2-2 with the side in fourth. "I think both teams gave a good account of themselves tonight," said PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu. "We're really disappointed with the result as I think we could have won today." Carlo Ancelotti's men nonetheless fared better than second-placed Olympique Lyonnais, who suffered a shock 4-1 loss to SC Bastia, while Olympique de Marseille – two points further back than Lyon – were frustrated in a goalless stalemate at home against AC Ajaccio.

"You don't get points or medals for complacency and we won't be," were the wary words of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson after Wayne Rooney's first-half strike proved sufficient to see off Reading FC 1-0 at Old Trafford. The win allowed United to stretch their lead to 15 points following Manchester City's 2-0 loss at Everton FC earlier in the day. "It is a great position to be in, but the only thing we can do now is win our next game," added the Scotsman. As for Chelsea FC, they moved third with a 2-0 triumph against West Ham United FC, Frank Lampard plundering his 200th goal for the Blues, while Tottenham Hotspur FC slipped to fourth following a 1-0 home loss to Fulham FC.

Bayern maintained their near-unassailable 20-point lead atop the Bundesliga standings with a 2-1 win at third-placed Bayer 04 Leverkusen. "We're very happy. It was difficult after the Champions League on Wednesday; you could really see that in the second half," said coach Jupp Heynckes, whose side racked up a 12th away success this term courtesy of Philipp Wollscheid's second-half own goal. "We played well in the first half and played some good football." Second-placed Borussia Dortmund bounced back from last week's Revierderby loss to FC Schalke 04, meanwhile, by sweeping aside SC Freiburg 5-1 thanks in part to a pair of goals from prolific striker Robert Lewandowski.

The importance of a 2-0 triumph against Bologna FC was not lost on Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon as the Bianconeri stayed nine points clear of SSC Napoli at the Serie A summit. "There are still a lot of important games left to play, but we sent out a strong message this evening," he said. "Also, much like last Sunday [against Calcio Catania], it was a contest which was worth more than the three points on offer." As for Napoli, they downed Atalanta BC 3-2 courtesy of a late Goran Pandev strike, while Mario Balotelli scored twice as third-placed AC Milan beat bottom club US Città di Palermo 2-0, and ACF Fiorentina edged Genoa CFC 3-2.

There was no change among the top three as Barcelona swept aside Rayo Vallecano de Madrid 3-1 to remain 13 points better off than Real Madrid CF and 14 clear of Club Atlético de Madrid. José Mourinho's men twice came from behind to defeat RCD Mallorca 5-2, before Diego Costa's double helped Atlético triumph 2-0 at CA Osasuna on Sunday. "We must keep our run going," commented Merengues defender Sergio Ramos. "We defended set pieces poorly and we have to concentrate and improve because we still have a lot of the season left to play." The fourth and final UEFA Champions League qualifying berth is now occupied by Real Sociedad de Fútbol, meanwhile, after they made it ten games unbeaten by overcoming Real Valladolid CF 4-1.

PFC CSKA Moskva moved closer to their first Russian title since 2006 by overcoming FC Krasnodar 1-0, Alan Dzagoev making the difference to lift the Army Men seven points clear of FC Anji Makhachkala, who drew 1-1 with PFC Krylya Sovetov Samara. In Portugal, SL Benfica pounced on FC Porto's 1-1 draw at CS Marítimo to sail four points out in front, while Eredivisie frontrunners AFC Ajax remain a point ahead of PSV Eindhoven after both carved out wins, against AZ Alkmaar and RKC Waalwijk respectively. The big match in Georgia ended goalless, meanwhile, with pacesetters FC Dinamo Tbilisi keeping three points clear of opponents FC Dila Gori. Birkirkara FC ran out 2-0 winners at Valletta FC to go top in Malta, and FC BATE Borisov lifted the Belarusian Super Cup.

Last updated: 04/12/13 6.22CET