By JUSTIN FERGUSON
After going 24 years without a league title, Liverpool now have one hand on this season’s English Premier League trophy.
Liverpool pulled seven points ahead of fellow title contenders Manchester City with a thrilling 3-2 win at Anfield on Sunday. The high-scoring Reds raced out to a 2-0 lead on the visiting Citizens inside the first half-hour and endured a second-half Manchester City rally before striking a crucial goal in the final 15 minutes of play in front of their home fans.
Golden Boot leader Luis Suarez did not get on the score sheet for Liverpool on Sunday, but he supplied a perfect through ball for Raheem Sterling’s sixth-minute opener. Martin Skrtel doubled the lead for Liverpool in the 26th minute, but Man City rallied in the span of five minutes early in the second half with David Silva scoring from close range and drilling a shot that became a Glen Johnson own goal. The two sides went back and forth until the 78th minute, when a poorly attempted clearance from Man City captain Vincent Kompany turned into a golden opportunity for Phillip Coutinho’s match-winning strike.
In Spain, Barcelona dropped to third place in La Liga this weekend with another stunning loss away from their home at Camp Nou. Yacine Brahimi scored in the 16th minute against the defending champions, and his strike was enough to push his Getafe side to a 1-0 victory against Barcelona, who were already coming off a disappointing loss to league-leading Atletico Madrid in the Champions League quarterfinals. Barcelona, who had 29 shots and 81 percent of the match’s possession, were unable to find a way past a clutch Orestis Karnezis, and now the Catalans are four points behind league-leading Atletico in La Liga.
Here is a closer look at all the weekend’s action from the top leagues in Europe:
After netting the crucial winner against Paris Saint-Germain earlier in the week, Demba Ba came through for Chelsea once again as the Blues defeated Swansea City 1-0 in Wales. Despite the Swans going down a man just 14 minutes into the match and their offense firing 26 shots, Chelsea could only get one goal, a 68th-minute strike earned the Blues all three points from their trip to Liberty Stadium. Chelsea now trail Liverpool by two points in the race for the EPL title, setting up a potential title decider against the Reds in two weeks.
In the FA Cup, Arsenal are just one win away from breaking their long trophy drought after their nail-biting penalty-kick shootout win against Wigan Athletic at Wembley. Jordi Gomez put Championship side Wigan, the defending champions, ahead in the 63rd minute on a penalty kick. But after Per Mertesacker’s 82nd-minute equalizer and a scoreless period of extra time, it was Arsenal who prevailed from the spot as goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski came through with two clutch saves to setup next month’s final meeting with fellow EPL club Hull City in London.
Here are the results from this weekend’s English Premier League action:
Crystal Palace 1, Aston Villa 0
Fulham 1, Norwich City 0
Cardiff City 1, Southampton 0
Stoke City 1, Newcastle United 0
Everton 1, Sunderland 0
West Bromwich Albion 3, Tottenham Hotspur 3
Liverpool 3, Manchester City 2
Chelsea 1, Swansea City 0
Here are the results from this weekend’s FA Cup semifinal action:
Arsenal 1 (4), Wigan Athletic 1 (2)
Hull City 5, Sheffield United 3
First-place Atletico Madrid also kept their league lead with a crucial victory, but they received a scare when star striker Diego Costa went down with a shin injury. Atletico defeated city opponents Getafe 2-0 on the road thanks to goals from the league leaders’ Diego tandem, opening up a three-point lead on their main Madrid rivals Real. Diego Godin put Atletico ahead in the 40th minute, but it took until the 84th minute for Costa to put the match to bed with another goal—and his collision with the post on the goal caused him to leave the match a few minutes early.
Real Madrid stayed three points behind Atletico and moved up to second place with their 4-0 home rout of relegation-zoned Almeria at the Santiago Bernabeu. Real Madrid winger Angel Di Maria put Los Blancos ahead in the 26th minute with a fantastic curling effort, and Gareth Bale and Isco combined early in the second half to put the match out of reach for the visitors. Alvaro Morata capped Real Madrid’s dominating performance, their third straight shutout victory in league play, with an 85th-minute goal off a fine assist from Asier Illaramendi.
Here are the results from this weekend’s La Liga action:
Osasuna 0, Real Valladolid 0
Celta Vigo 2, Real Sociedad 2
Villarreal 1, Levante 0
Granada 1, Barcelona 0
Real Madrid 4, Almeria 0
Sevilla 2, Real Betis 0
Valencia 2, Elche 1
Atletico Madrid 2, Getafe 0
Espanyol 2, Rayo Vallecano 2
For the second weekend in a row, Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich were shut out by another team in the domestic league they have already won this season. This Saturday’s loss, however, was extra painful as Bayern fell 3-0 at home to their biggest domestic rivals, second-place Borussia Dortmund. Unlike last weekend’s loss to Augsburg, Bayern manager Pep Guardiola sent out a strong first-team squad, but Dortmund were more clinical in front of the net thanks to goals from midfielders Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marco Reus and Jonas Hofmann.
Sascha Lewandowski’s debut as Bayer Leverkusen manager was a resounding success as his side defeated Hertha Berlin 2-1 at home to move back into a Champions League-qualifying fourth-place spot. Stefan Kießling scored just 39 seconds into the match at the BayArena, and Julian Brandt doubled the lead 23 minutes later with a precise lob of Hertha goalkeeper Thomas Kraft. Although Sandro Wagner pulled one back for Hertha before halftime, Leverkusen hung on to grab their second win in 10 Bundesliga matches and keep their hopes of returning to Europe’s top competition alive.
Here are the results from this weekend’s Bundesliga action:
Schalke 2, Eintracht Frankfurt 0
Borussia Monchengladbach 1, Stuttgart 1
Hannover 2, Hamburg 1
Mainz 3, Werder Bremen 0
Freiburg 2, Eintracht Braunschweig 0
Wolfsburg 4, Nurnberg 1
Borussia Dortmund 3, Bayern Munich 0
Bayer Leverkusen 2, Hertha Berlin 1
Hoffenheim 2, Augsburg 0
Second-place AS Roma defeated Atalanta 3-1 on Saturday at the Stadio Olimpico and moved five points behind defending champions Juventus, who travel to Udinese on Monday. Rodrigo Taddei put Roma on the path to three points in the 13th minute, and Adem Ljajic doubled the lead for the capital club just seconds before the halftime whistle. Gervinho rounded out the comfortable win in the 63rd minute by putting the finishing touch on a great team move, and all Atalanta could do was grab one consolation goal in the 78th minute.
Gonzalo Higuain netted a hat trick for third-place Napoli in a vital 4-2 home victory against Lazio, who are chasing one of the Europa League spots in the Serie A table. Lazio’s Senad Lucic and Napoli’s Dries Mertens traded goals in a back-and-forth first half, but the match turned in favor of the hosts when Lazio defender Lorik Cana was sent off in the 48th minute for his second yellow card. Higuain converted from the penalty spot off Cana’s foul, doubled Napoli’s lead in the 67th minute and restored the hosts’ two-goal advantage late in second-half stoppage time with a close-range finish.
Here are the results from this weekend’s Serie A action:
Sassuolo 1, Cagliari 1
AS Roma 3, Atalanta 1
Bologna 1, Parma 1
Fiorentina 5, Hellas Verona 3
Chievo Verona 4, Livorno 2
Napoli 4, Lazio 2
Inter Milan 4, Sampdoria 0
Torino 2, Genoa 1
AC Milan 1, Catania 0
First-place Paris Saint-Germain’s rough week away from the Parc des Princes continued Sunday with a 1-0 loss at fifth-place Olympique Lyon. Jordan Ferri scored in the 31st minute to put Europa League-chasing Lyon past the defending Ligue 1 champions, who were coming off a loss to Chelsea in the Champions League quarterfinals. PSG were unable to take full advantage of their six shots on Anthony Lopes’ goal, and the capital club fell for only the second time in this domestic league campaign.
Second-place AS Monaco trail PSG by 10 points with five matches to play after their 1-0 road victory at Stade Rennes on Saturday. Emmanuel Riviere, who has led the Monaco attack in the absence of injured striker Radamel Falcao, scored the match’s only goal in the 55th minute by netting a shot off a pass from Jeremy Toulalan. Rennes only had one shot on goal in the entire match, but their loss did little to their season as they sit eight points ahead of the drop zone heading into the final few matches of the season.
Here are the results from this weekend’s Ligue 1 action:
Marseille 3, Montpellier 2
Lille 1, Valenciennes 0
AC Ajaccio 1, Bordeaux 1
Evian Thonon Gaillard 2, Bastia 1
Lorient 2, Nice 1
Sochaux 2, Toulouse 0
AS Monaco 1, Stade Rennes 0
Nantes 1, Guingamp 0
Stade de Reims 2, Saint Etienne 2
Lyon 1, Paris Saint-Germain 0
What did you think of this weekend’s European league action? Think Liverpool will win the EPL title after their victory against Manchester City? See Atletico slipping up any down the stretch of the La Liga race? Surprised by Bayern’s back-to-back league losses after their long unbeaten run?
Share your thoughts below.