European football roundup: Bayern and PSG on the brink, Serie A hots up
Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain have all but wrapped up their league titles, while Serie A is set up for a grandstand finish. There were individual heroics with four goals apiece for Mohamed Salah, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mauro Icardi. Mint rounds up the last weekend of European football.
Premier League/FA Cup
Manchester United overcame their midweek Champions League disappointment to reach the semi-final of the FA Cup with a 2-0 win over Brighton. Jose Mourinho relegated star signings Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez to the bench and heaped further ignominy on the duo by not using them. Their semi-final opponents will be Tottenham Hotspur who overcame Swansea City 3-0 at the Liberty Stadium.
A hard-fought 2-1 win in extra time for Chelsea over Leicester City took them to the last four where they will face Southampton, 2-0 winners against Wigan. The two semi-finals will be played on 21 and 22 April.
Mohamed Salah lit up the Premier League with his four-goal heroic against Watford. He also registered an assist to help Liverpool inflict a crushing 5-0 defeat on their London opponents. Salah leads the Premier League goal tally with 28 goals and is the frontrunner for the league’s Golden Boot honour. A Cenk Tosun brace helped Everton to a 2-1 win over Stoke City. At the other end of the standings, West Bromwich Albion remained at the foot of the table after a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Bournemouth. Crystal Palace climbed out of the relegation zone with their 2-0 defeat of Huddersfield.
A goal each from Paco Alcacer and Lionel Messi helped Barcelona to a 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao as the Catalans continued their unbeaten run in the league. Atletico Madrid were beaten 2-1 after conceding two goals in the last ten minutes of their clash against Villarreal to slide 11 points adrift of Barcelona in the race for the league title. Real Madrid ran rampant in a 6-3 defeat of Girona with Cristiano Ronaldo registering his 50th career hat-trick, in a four-goal haul. Los Blancos still remain 15 points shy of Barcelona with nine games remaining this league campaign.
Valencia won 3-1 against Alaves while Sevilla lost 2-1 to Leganes. The former have all but secured a top four finish barring any late season collapse, while the Yellow Submarine leapfrogged Sevilla in fifth after their remarkable win. Malaga, Deportivo La Coruna and Las Palmas make the bottom three in the league table.
Juventus had a rare blip. They were held to a scoreless draw by SPAL, dropping points for the first time in 13 games. Napoli capitalised on the Old Lady’s misfortune and secured all three points with an energy-sapping 1-0 win against Genoa courtesy of a Raul Albiol strike. A mere two points separate the Turin and Naples outfits with just nine rounds of games left. Serie A appears set for a photo finish in the title race.
Elsewhere, Mauro Icardi struck four times to help Inter Milan to a 5-0 defeat of Sampdoria. Roma were 2-0 victors against Crotone while AC Milan fought hard for their 3-2 win against Chievo Verona. Benevento remain rooted to the foot of the table and are accompanied by Hellas Verona and Crotone in the relegation zone.
Bayern Munich succumbed to a rare defeat at the hands of RB Leipzig despite going 1-0 ahead early in the game. A goal each from Naby Keita and Timo Werner helped Leipzig secure a 2-1 win and propped their chances for a top four finish. The result, however, only delayed Bayern Munich’s coronation as Bundesliga champions. They have a 17-point lead at the top of the table with seven matches to go.
Schalke and Borussia Dortmund both registered narrow 1-0 wins over Wolfsburg and Hannover respectively to remain second and third in the standings. Bayer Leverkusen’s chances of Champions League qualification suffered a blow with a 2-0 loss against Koln, who were lifted off the foot of the table with the three points. Hamburg appear doomed after losing yet another game, this time 2-1 against Hertha Berlin and are now bottom, perilously close to their first ever relegation to the second division.
Paris Saint-Germain were given a tough game by Nice but eventually prevailed 2-1 with a goal each from Angel Di Maria and Dani Alves. A 90th minute Memphis Depay header helped Lyon to a hard-fought 3-2 win over Marseille which keeps the winning side in the hunt for a Champions League spot next season. Just two points separate Marseille in third from fourth-placed Lyon. A 2-1 win for Monaco over Lille keeps them second. Metz, Lille and Troyes make the bottom three.
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