By IAN HOLLIDAY
It was a good weekend for the leaders of Europe's top five leagues. Each of the table-topping clubs either maintained or extended its lead with a victory this weekend, and no club helped itself more than AC Milan.
The Rossoneri asserted their dominance over derby rivals Inter in less than a minute with the first of Alexandre Pato's two goals in the match, and even though the visitors had their chances to pull back into the game, Milan was able to pull off a convincing 3-0 win.
The victory sent AC Milan to 65 points, five better than Inter, which fell to third place with the defeat. Napoli jumped back into second with its thrilling 4-3 come-from-behind-twice victory over Lazio, but Milan will likely feel less threatened by the Neapolitan club than it did by its heated rivals.
Meanwhile, in Spain, Real Madrid was shocked at home 1-0 by Sporting Gijon despite controlling 72 percent of the possession and taking a mind-boggling 33 shots, 13 of which were on goal. The result not only ruins the club's perfect home record for the season, but it ends Jose Mourinho's run of nine years without a league defeat at home.
Madrid's loss was Barcelona's gain, as the Catalan club extended its La Liga lead to eight points with a 1-0 victory at Villarreal.
In England, Manchester United got a second-half hat trick from Wayne Rooney to come from 2-0 down at halftime at lowly West Ham to win, 4-2. The result extends the Red Devils' Premier League lead over Arsenal to seven points after the Gunners managed only a scoreless draw with Blackburn on Saturday.
League leaders in France and Germany didn't gain any ground this weekend, but both Lille and Borussia Dortmund helped their causes with convincing wins. Lille defeated Caen, 3-1, and Dortmund dropped Steve Cherundolo's Hannover, 4-1.
Here is a rundown of all the weekend scores from Europe's top leagues:
Tottenham Hotspur has done better in the UEFA Champions League than many predicted it would, but the club is unlikely to qualify for next year's edition of the tournament unless it can find its league form soon. Spurs haven't scored since their 3-3 draw with Wolves on March 6, a span that includes three scoreless draws, one in Champions League play. The club hasn't won since Feb. 12, and is five points behind Chelsea for England's final Champions League place. That's not to say Spurs can't catch the Blues, who managed only a 1-1 draw with Stoke on Saturday, but they'll have to start scoring first.
Fulham 3, Blackpool 0
Manchester City 5, Sunderland 0
West Ham United 2, Manchester United 4
Birmingham City 2, Bolton 1
Everton 2, Aston Villa 2
Newcastle United 4, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
Stoke City 1, Chelsea 1
West Bromwich Albion 2, Liverpool 1
Wigan Athletic 0, Tottenham 0
Arsenal 0, Blackburn 0
The four Spanish Champions League qualifiers for next season are all but assured of their places, but the race for Europa League qualification is still wide open. Espanyol has been in poll position for much of the season, but the club has hit a rocky patch in recent weeks, going just 2-8-0 in its last 10 matches. The Catalan club's ineptitude has left the door open for some of La Liga's other mid-table teams to make a push for European qualification, including perennial contenders Sevilla and Atletico Madrid, both of which won their matches this weekend. Also in the hunt is Athletic Bilbao, which could jump all the way to fifth place with a win Monday night at Almeria.
Deportivo la Coruna 2, Mallorca 1
Espanyol 1, Racing Santander 2
Levante 3, Malaga 1
Real Sociedad 1, Hercules 3
Sevilla 3, Real Zaragoza 1
Osasuna 2, Atletico Madrid 3
Real Madrid 0, Sporting Gijon 1
Getafe 2, Valencia 4
Villarreal 0, Barcelona 1
Monday: Almeria v. Athletic Bilbao
Edinson Cavani has scored some big goals for Napoli this season, and his hat-trick against Lazio Sunday was no exception. Cavani netted both equalizers and the game-winner in the 4-3 victory that raised the club to second place in Serie A with 62 points. The Uruguayan also eclipsed the club's record for most league goals in a season with 25, a number that puts him even with Antonio Di Natale for the Serie A lead.
Napoli 4, Lazio 3
Catania 4, Palermo 0
Cesena 2, Fiorentina 2
Chievo 0, Sampdoria 0
Genoa 0, Cagliari 1
Lecce 2, Udinese 0
Parma 1, Bari 2
AS Roma 0, Juventus 2
Brescia 3, Bologna 1
AC Milan 3, Inter Milan 0
The battle for third place and the Bundesliga's final Champions League berth rages on between Bayern Munich and Hannover 96. This week, Bayern benefitted from a kinder schedule and climbed back into the qualification zone with a 1-0 win over relegation-bound Borussia Moenchengladbach. The victory was far from convincing, however, as the club waited until the 77th minute to get its lone goal from Arjen Robben. Meanwhile, Hannover fell 4-1 to league leaders Borussia Dortmund. Things started well for the club captained by American Steve Cherundolo, which took a 1-0 lead in the 57th minute, only to have it erased just two minutes later. The club never recovered and is now in fourth place, one point behind Bayern, with a critical match coming up next weekend against fifth-placed Mainz.
FC Cologne 1, Nurnberg 0
VfL Wolfsburg 1, Eintracht Frankfurt 1
Bayern Munich 1, Borussia Moenchengladbach 0
Borussia Dortmund 4, Hannover 96 1
Kaiserslautern 0, Bayer Leverkusen 1
Mainz 05 1, SC Freiburg 1
Werder Bremen 1, VfB Stuttgart 1
Hoffenheim 0, Hamburg 0
St. Pauli 0, Schalke 04 2
It's been a long time since Lille last hoisted the Ligue 1 trophy — 47 seasons to be exact — but the club is well-positioned to do just that. Lille has won its last four matches to open a four point lead over last year's champions Marseille at the top of the French table. With nine matches to go, there are still some difficult opponents for the club to face, but it won't play another title contender until the final week of the season when it hosts Stade Rennes. Lille has already played Marseille and Lyon twice, and could easily wrap up the title against lesser competition before the season's May 29 finale.
Nice 2, Lyon 2
St. Etienne 1, Valenciennes 1
Lens 0, Marseille 1
Arles 0, AS Monaco 2
AS Nancy Lorraine 0, Bordeaux 0
Lille 3, Caen 1
Paris St. Germain 0, Lorient 0
Sochaux 2, Brest 1
Stade Rennes 0, AJ Auxerre 0
Toulouse 0, Montpellier 1
What did you think of this weekend's results? Think Real Madrid has any chance of catching Barca now? See any of the current leaders being caught before season's end?
Share your thoughts below.