Nerves show no signs of fraying at Liverpool FC and Club Atlético de Madrid as both clubs moved closer to glory with wins in their respective leagues over the weekend. Juventus also marched another step towards the finish line with victory in Italy, while Paris Saint-Germain clinched the French League Cup, SL Benfica were crowned in Portugal and PEC Zwolle stunned AFC Ajax in the Dutch Cup final. UEFA.com recaps the action.
Liverpool enjoyed a potentially critical weekend in the Premier League to move even closer to their first championship title since 1989/90. Raheem Sterling struck twice in a 3-2 win at Norwich City FC as the Reds strode five points clear of Chelsea FC, who lost 2-1 against Sunderland AFC to end José Mourinho's 77-game unbeaten league run at Stamford Bridge. "The players give me everything," said Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, whose charges host Chelsea next Sunday. "Eleven games on the spin is an incredible achievement." In fourth, Arsenal FC saw off Hull City AFC 3-0 to remain a point clear of Everton FC, 2-0 victors against Manchester United FC.
Atlético stand three wins away from a first Liga crown since 1995/96 after beating Elche CF 2-0 on Friday courtesy of second-half strikes from Miranda and Diego Costa. "The attitude of the players changed in the second half," said coach Diego Simeone. "The intensity increased and, from persistence, came the prize. Our perseverance delivered a fair victory." With Real Madrid CF not in action, it was left to FC Barcelona to keep up pressure, and the Catalan club duly fought back to edge Athletic Club 2-1 on Sunday and return within four points of the Rojiblancos. "We have to be as professional as possible and cling to our Liga dream," said Barça defender Javier Mascherano.
Edinson Cavani scored both goals as Paris defeated Olympique Lyonnais 2-1 to lift the French League Cup for the first time since 2008. "We need to congratulate the players," enthused coach Laurent Blanc. "They were rewarded this evening. They showed their strength of character." In Ligue 1, meanwhile, AS Monaco FC moved within seven points of Blanc's troops courtesy of a 1-0 defeat of OGC Nice, Dimitar Berbatov settling the encounter with an exquisite lob. His goal likewise lifted Monaco eight points clear of third-placed LOSC Lille, who could only draw 0-0 at Olympique de Marseille, while Cheick Diabaté hit a hat-trick as FC Girondins de Bordeaux beat EA Guingamp 5-1.
Juventus remain eight points ahead of AS Roma at the top of the table after registering a 1-0 home win against Bologna FC, Paul Pogba firing the only goal. "Tonight's win was a good step forward. We'll focus on ourselves and not what's happening with Roma, who are enjoying an extraordinary season," said Juve coach Antonio Conte. The Giallorossi prevailed by the same scoreline at ACF Fiorentina, while third-placed SSC Napoli were held 1-1 by Udinese Calcio. At the opposite end of the table, third-bottom US Sassuolo Calcio made it two victories in three unbeaten matches by prevailing 1-0 at AC Chievo Verona.
FC Bayern München ended a three-game winless run in the Bundesliga with a 2-0 victory at bottom-placed TSV Eintracht Braunschweig. "We didn't produce footballing fireworks, but it was always going to be difficult against these opponents and on this pitch," said forward Thomas Müller. As for second-placed Borussia Dortmund, they defeated 1. FSV Mainz 05 4-2 to move six points ahead of FC Schalke 04, beaten 3-1 at VfB Stuttgart in a result that lifted their hosts four points clear of the drop zone. In fourth, Bayer 04 Leverkusen triumphed 4-1 at 1. FC Nürnberg to make it two wins out of two for new coach Sascha Lewandowski.
Two goals from Lima earned Benfica a 2-0 success against SC Olhanense to secure the Eagles' first Portuguese title since 2009/10 and 33rd overall. In Turkey, Fenerbahçe SK missed the chance to do likewise after drawing 1-1 at Beşiktaş JK, but silverware was hoisted aloft in the Netherlands, where Zwolle swept aside Ajax 5-1 to lift their first ever Dutch Cup. One point still separates Russia's top two after FC Zenit and FC Lokomotiv Moskva both won, while the pendulum swung FC Shakhtar Donetsk's way in Ukraine, a 2-1 success against FC Metalurh Donetsk opening up a three-point gap on FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, 1-0 losers at FC Chornomorets Odesa.
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