Milan derby tied, PSG beat l’OM

VICTORY IN SIGHT::There were no surprises in Spain, England or Germany as league leaders Barca, United and Bayern closed in on their respective titles with weekend wins

Reuters and AFP, LONDON and MILAN, Italy

Tue, Feb 26, 2013 - Page 18

AC Milan’s surge up the Serie A table was slowed by a 1-1 derby draw with Inter, while the runaway leaders in Spain, England and Germany all secured victories with Barcelona, Manchester United and Bayern Munich now in sight of their respective titles.

Manchester United remained 12 points clear of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League after both teams recorded comfortable 2-0 victories over the weekend.

United won at bottom club Queens Park Rangers on Saturday thanks to a spectacular early goal by young Brazilian rightback Rafael and a late one by 39-year-old midfielder Ryan Giggs.

Second-half goals by Yaya Toure and Carlos Tevez earned City a deserved victory over third-placed Chelsea, who are only a point clear of Tottenham Hotspur ahead of their London rivals’ trip to West Ham United yesterday.

SPAIN

Leaders Barcelona and third-placed Real Madrid both had to come from behind to win 2-1 in La Liga at the weekend, as they fielded weakened sides ahead of their Copa del Rey semi-final second leg today.

David Villa and Lionel Messi scored as Barca rallied to beat Sevilla at home, shaking off any hangover felt from their shock 2-0 defeat at AC Milan in the Champions League last week.

It was only after Cristiano Ronaldo came on as a second-half substitute that Real came back to beat bottom club RC Deportivo de La Coruna with goals from Kaka and Gonzalo Higuain.

Barca have 68 points from 25 games, 12 ahead of Atletico Madrid in second after they maintained their perfect home record with a 1-0 win with 10 men at home to RCD Espanyol. Radamel Falcao’s penalty kept them four points ahead of Real.

ITALY

Defending champions and leaders Juventus found little resistance from lowly AC Siena in a 3-0 win on Sunday, with Stephan Lichtsteiner, Sebastian Giovinco and Paul Pogba sharing the goals.

Juventus, who have 58 points from 26 games, moved seven clear of SSC Napoli, who were to visit Udinese yesterday.

Third-placed AC Milan, a further six points behind, dominated the first half of the derby against Inter and went ahead through Stephan El Shaarawy after 20 minutes.

However, they were pegged back when Ezequiel Schelotto headed in three minutes after coming on as a substitute for fifth-placed Inter.

In other Serie A matches on Sunday, UC Sampdoria downed Chievo 2-0, while Atalanta BC fell to AS Roma by one goal despite a double from Croatian striker Marko Livaja.

A seven-goal thriller saw Cagliari beat Torino 4-3 with a last-minute goal from Daniele Conti in the fourth minute of stoppage-time.

Parma lost 2-1 to Catania, while the match between Bologna and Fiorentina was postponed.

GERMANY

Bayern Munich opened up a 17-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga and are cruising unhindered toward their first league title in three years after a 6-1 demolition of Werder Bremen, their 19th win in 23 games.

Mario Gomez was twice on target and Arjen Robben also scored as manager Jupp Heynckes made six changes to the team that beat Arsenal 3-1 in the Champions League in the middle of last week.

Borussia Dortmund’s title defense looks dead in the water after their 1-1 draw at Borussia Moenchengladbach, despite having the hosts on the backfoot for more than an hour.

Dortmund managed to hold on to second spot after Bayer 04 Leverkusen gave a lackluster performance in a goalless draw at bottom-placed SpVgg Greuther Furth.

THE NETHERLANDS

Third-placed Feyenoord beat leaders PSV Eindhoven 2-1 at home thanks to second-half goals from Ruben Schaken and Graziano Pelle to stay in the title race as they reduced the gap to three points.

Second-placed Ajax wasted the chance to go level on points with PSV as they were held to a 1-1 draw at home against ADO Den Haag.

Steve McClaren’s Twente slipped to fifth as their woes continued with a 2-1 defeat at Heerenveen.

PORTUGAL

Porto and SL Benfica’s tight race at the top of the Portuguese Premier League continued, with both coming out victorious against Rio Ave and Pacos de Ferreira respectively to stay joint leaders on 52 points after 20 matches.

In-form Colombian striker Jackson Martinez went from villain to hero as he grabbed a brace in Porto’s 2-1 win after missing a penalty which he had tried to chip.

Benfica brushed aside surprise packages Pacos de Ferreira, who are placed third in the championship, with a quality performance that earned them a 3-0 win thanks to goals from South American trio Enzo Perez, Oscar Cardozo and Eduardo Salvio.

GREECE

Olympiakos continued their march to the title with a 2-1 home win over relegation-threatened Aris, which left their lead at the top at 16 points.

SCOTLAND

Champions Celtic are 21 points clear after a 5-0 home drubbing of bottom side Dundee.