Juventus FC and Real Madrid CF have taken important steps towards winning their titles.
Although title matters remain tense in England and France, Juventus FC and Real Madrid CF took important steps towards winning their respective championships at the weekend.
Reduced to eight
Having beaten ailing city rivals Torino Calcio 4-0 earlier this season, Juventus completed the Turin double by winning a tempestuous derby 2-0 on Saturday. After Gianluca Comotto put through his own net to give Juve the lead, home defender Igor Tudor and Torino's Cristiano Lucarelli were sent off. Two more followed after the interval, the Granata's Luca Mezzano and Carlos Marinelli, before Mauro Camoranesi clinched victory for Juventus.
Other results also went the way of Juventus to leave Marcello Lippi's side with a five-point advantage at the Serie A summit. On Saturday, AC Milan, in third, fell further away from contention as they lost 1-0 at Parma AC, while second-placed Internazionale FC relinquished a 3-1 lead against AS Roma, who struck twice in the last eight minutes for a 3-3 draw. Juve have 60 points from 27 matches, Inter 55 and Milan 52. S.S. Lazio, who beat Como Calcio 3-0 yesterday, have 48 points.
Two for Morientes
Madrid, who face Manchester United FC tomorrow, delighted in a dramatic 3-1 home win against lowly Rayo Vallecano. Rayo led with only five minutes left, but Fernando Morientes, on for Ronaldo, equalised with his first touch and scored the third late on, just after fellow substitute Javier Portillo had put Madrid ahead.
Deportivo in second
Valencia CF, the reigning champions, lost 2-0 to Real Betis Balompié to virtually end their title hopes, but the vital result for Madrid came on Sunday as Real Sociedad conceded second place to RC Deportivo La Coruña following a 2-1 defeat at the Riazor, where Fran González struck the winning goal in the 82nd minute. Both sides are now six points adrift of Madrid.
United score four
In the Premiership, though, the top two are now separated only by goal difference. Manchester United FC warmed up for their match with Madrid in style, beating Liverpool FC 4-0. Ruud van Nistelrooij, with two penalties, Ryan Giggs and Ole Gunnar Solskjær scored for United, while Liverpool's Sami Hyypiä saw red in the fourth minute. Leaders Arsenal FC could only draw 1-1 with Aston Villa FC. Newcastle United FC are now six points behind after losing 2-1 to Everton FC, who climb to fifth.
First place in France's Ligue 1 again changed hands as the champions, Olympique Lyonnais, beat Le Havre AC 2-1 to move two points clear. Previous leaders AS Monaco FC lost 1-0 to OGC Nice, while Olympique de Marseille were defeated 2-0 at home by En Avant Guingamp. FC Girondins de Bordeaux won 4-3 at Stade Rennais FC, and are only three points behind Lyon in fourth.
In Germany, FC Bayern München saw their advantage cut to 14 points following a 2-2 draw against Hannover 96. VfB Stuttgart took second place with an exciting 3-2 win at FC Energie Cottbus after BV Borussia Dortmund fell to a 2-1 defeat by SV Werder Bremen despite taking the lead.
AFC Ajax, who take on Milan in the Champions League on Wednesday, still have a chance of retaining the Dutch title after beating RBC Roosendaal 4-1. They are now within eight points of PSV Eindhoven, held 1-1 by Willem II. Feyenoord are a point further behind following an incredible 4-3 win at De Graafschap - a victory achieved with nine players.