There was plenty to savour for some of Europe's leading clubs this weekend as FC Bayern München marched within three points of the Bundesliga title, Paris Saint-Germain FC stretched their lead in France and both Manchester United FC and Juventus maintained their advantages with wins. As for FC Barcelona, they remain well clear in Spain despite a draw, with Lionel Messi on target yet again. UEFA.com recaps the action.
Bayern moved to within one victory of the Bundesliga crown with a scintillating display on Saturday, sweeping aside Hamburger SV 9-2. Claudio Pizarro struck four goals and Arjen Robben two as Jupp Heynckes' men also sent a warning to Tuesday's UEFA Champions League last-eight rivals Juve. "It was important for us to tank up on self-confidence," said Heynckes. "We played textbook football at times and we've got to do something similar on Tuesday because we have other objectives." Anything less than a win for Borussia Dortmund would have handed Bayern the title with seven games to go, but the current champions – who visit Málaga CF on Wednesday – won 2-1 at VfB Stuttgart, while third-placed Bayer 04 Leverkusen prevailed 4-1 at Fortuna Düsseldorf.
PSG warmed up for Tuesday's UEFA Champions League meeting with FC Barcelona by extending their Ligue 1 lead to seven points, substitute Kevin Gameiro sealing a 1-0 win against Montpellier Hérault SC. "We're focused more than ever on the challenges to come, whether it be winning the title, the Coupe de France or the Champions League," commented PSG midfielder Javier Pastore. "The squad is very united and we're pulling together to finish the season the best way possible." The capital club were aided by a 2-1 defeat for Olympique Lyonnais at home against FC Sochaux-Montbéliard, which also allowed Olympique de Marseille to move into second spot, André-Pierre Gignac sealing their 1-0 success at OGC Nice.
Manchester United took another step closer to the Premier League title with a 1-0 triumph at Sunderland AFC, Titus Bramble's own goal keeping the Red Devils 15 points clear of Manchester City FC, who saw off Newcastle United FC 4-0. "We have got to win four games, I think, to get there, but the important thing is to focus on the next match, and that's Manchester City at home," said United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, whose Sunderland counterpart Martin O'Neill was dismissed after the match. "It's obviously getting closer because it's one game less and we have won again." Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur FC won 2-1 at Swansea City AFC to move third ahead of Chelsea FC, who lost by the same scoreline at Southampton FC.
"The manager's been rotating the strikers for two years now; nobody moans when they're not involved," said Juventus forward Fabio Quagliarella after marking a rare start with a goal in the Bianconeri's 2-1 triumph at FC Internazionale Milano. "The most important thing is to ensure you're ready when your time comes to play." The result preserved Juventus' nine-point lead over second-placed SSC Napoli, who routed Torino FC 5-3 thanks to a hat-trick from Blerim Dzemaili and an Edinson Cavani double. Meanwhile, AC Milan edged out AC Chievo Verona 1-0 to stretch their unbeaten sequence to nine Serie A games and move six points clear of fourth-placed ACF Fiorentina, beaten 2-1 at Cagliari Calcio.
Lionel Messi found the net for a 19th consecutive league game as Barcelona drew 2-2 at RC Celta de Vigo. The Argentina forward struck on 73 minutes to match Cristiano Ronaldo's record of scoring against every Liga outfit last season. "What Leo is doing is an unheard of feat in the league's history and it shows the importance he has and his greatness as a player," said assistant coach Jordi Roura. "With time, we will give him even more credit for what he does." Due to tackle Galatasaray AŞ on Wednesday, Real Madrid CF were held as well, 1-1 at Real Zaragoza, and that was also the scoreline between third-placed Club Atlético de Madrid and Valencia CF.
AFC Ajax took full advantage of PSV Eindhoven's 2-2 draw at Roda JC to open up a three-point lead at the top of the Eredivisie, 18-year-old Viktor Fischer scoring twice as they downed NEC Nijmegen 4-1. SL Benfica remain four points clear of FC Porto in Portugal after defeating Rio Ave FC 6-1, while, in Poland, leaders Legia Warszawa overcame city rivals KSP Polonia Warszawa 2-1 courtesy of Dominik Furman's 91st-minute goal, the win leaving them seven points ahead in pole position. Things are tight at the top in the Czech Republic, in contrast, after second-placed AC Sparta Praha defeated FC Viktoria Plzeň 1-0 to move level with the leaders, and The New Saints FC retained the Welsh Premier League title with five fixtures to spare.
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