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Leaders tremble as rivals ramp up title pressure

Published: Monday 2 April 2012, 0.28CET
It proved a harsh weekend for several of Europe's leading sides as the likes of AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund had their advantages cut and Paris Saint-Germain FC lost in France.

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Published: Monday 2 April 2012, 0.28CET

Leaders tremble as rivals ramp up title pressure

It proved a harsh weekend for several of Europe's leading sides as the likes of AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund had their advantages cut and Paris Saint-Germain FC lost in France.

It was a difficult weekend for several leading sides across Europe as the likes of AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund had their advantages cut by title rivals and Paris Saint-Germain FC missed the chance to move clear in France. Liga pacesetters Real Madrid CF enjoyed a landmark win, in contrast, as now recaps.

Juventus capitalised on Milan's 1-1 stalemate at Calcio Catania to close the gap to two points at the Serie A summit. Prior to their match with SSC Napoli, Antonio Conte admitted the title was Milan's to lose, but he praised his side's efforts after they stretched their unbeaten league run to 30 matches. "I am proud of what my lads achieved tonight," he said. "We are also maturing in psychological terms and this result is crucial to secure second place, which is already beyond our expectations for the season." There were goals aplenty elsewhere, as Diego Milito's second hat-trick of the season ensured that Andrea Stramaccioni's FC Internazionale Milano tenure began with a 5-4 win against Genoa CFC, while AS Roma downed Novara Calcio 5-2.

Dortmund's Bundesliga lead is down to three points after the defending champions contested a rollercoaster 4-4 draw with VfB Stuttgart, Christian Gentner equalising for Stuttgart in added time. That allowed FC Bayern München to pile on the pressure with a 1-0 triumph at 1. FC Nürnberg courtesy of Arjen Robben's winning goal. "We're not concerned with what Dortmund do – we're just aiming to win our own matches," commented Bayern midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger. Behind the front two, third-placed FC Schalke 04 could only draw 1-1 at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and fourth-placed VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach lost 2-1 at Hannover 96. Bayer 04 Leverkusen sacked coach Robin Dutt after their 2-0 home loss to SC Freiburg, meanwhile.

Paris Saint-Germain spurned the opportunity to move three points clear of Montpellier Hérault SC, who possess a game in hand, as they slipped to a 2-1 defeat at AS Nancy-Lorraine – their first Ligue 1 loss under Carlo Ancelotti. "There's no crisis," said the Italian coach. "We're still on course to win the title." Four points off the pace, title holders LOSC Lille Métropole moved back into contention by toppling Toulouse FC 2-1, Eden Hazard scoring from the spot and setting Dimitri Payet up for their second. Elsewhere, Olympique Lyonnais climbed up to fourth after a 1-1 draw with Stade Rennais FC and bottom side AJ Auxerre beat Valenciennes FC 2-0 to clinch their maiden win under new coach Jean-Guy Wallemme.

Madrid racked up their 100th Liga goal this term in a 5-1 success at CA Osasuna that maintained their six-point cushion at the top. "We have a great lead in the championship and we must keep up the good work till the end of the season," said Gonzalo Higuaín, who brought up the century with his second of the game – having notched his 100th for the club with his first. "There are eight games left and we're calm about the prospect of winning the title we all want." Closest pursuers FC Barcelona defeated Athletic Club 2-0, while third-placed Valencia CF were held 1-1 by neighbours Levante UD and Málaga CF, in fourth, lost 2-0 to Real Betis Balompié.

Manchester City FC dropped two points in the Premier League title race after needing two late goals to draw 3-3 at home to Sunderland AFC. The stalemate means Manchester United FC can open up a five-point lead at the summit by beating Blackburn Rovers FC on Monday, although City boss Roberto Mancini is convinced the gap will be smaller: "maybe our confidence will go down after this game, but only for this afternoon because United will probably draw and we'll be three points behind." Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur FC beat Swansea City AFC 3-1 to exploit Arsenal FC's surprise 2-1 defeat at Queens Park Rangers FC and draw level on points with their third-placed rivals.

Olympiacos FC are celebrating their 39th Greek title and the 14th in 16 years after beating Panaitolikos GFS 1-0 to assure their coronation on Sunday. Galatasaray AŞ’s lead in Turkey is nine points, meanwhile, after they beat Orduspor 2-0 and the game between second-placed Fenerbahçe SK and Trabzonspor AŞ, in third, ended 1-1. Over in the Netherlands, AFC Ajax moved to the top of the pile by sweeping aside Heracles Almelo 6-0, with previous leaders AZ Alkmaar held to a 2-2 draw at Vitesse. In Portugal, finally, FC Porto have taken over at the top after previous leaders SC Braga suffered a 2-1 loss at SL Benfica, who trail their great rivals by one point.

Last updated: 05/12/13 9.11CET

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