By JUSTIN FERGUSON
After a 9-2 league victory and a 2-0 first leg performance against the champions of Italy, Bayern Munich wrapped up a memorable eight-day stretch by reclaiming the Bundesliga title in record-setting fashion.
Bayern ended the quickest German league race of all-time on Saturday with a 1-0 victory at sixth-place Eintracht Frankfurt, clinching the league in the 28th round of the competition—two rounds earlier than their earlier record from the 1972-73 and 2002-03 campaigns. Second-place Borussia Dortmund now sit 20 points back from Bayern with only six matches remaining.
Vice-captain Bastian Schweinsteiger grabbed the lone goal, a 52nd-minute backheel finish, after a first half of missed chances from the visitors. The midfielder received a cross from captain Phillipp Lahm that appeared to be just behind his intended target, but Schweinsteiger calmly flicked the ball past Oka Nikolov for the eventual match-winner.
Schweinsteiger would be the hero once again for Bayern in the late stages of the match. After Manuel Neuer was tested by a Srdjan Lakic shot in the 79th minute, Schweinsteiger was forced to clear the ball off of his goalkeeper’s line moments later. Eintracht, now winners of only one of their last seven matches, pressed harder but were unable to grab a late equalizer in front of a sold-out Commerzbank Arena.
Minutes later, Bayern were celebrating a record 23rd league title on Eintracht’s home turf.
Meanwhile, in England, Chelsea reclaimed third place from Tottenham Hotspur after a busy Sunday in the Premier League.
Chelsea handed 17th-place Sunderland a 2-1 loss in Paolo Di Canio’s first match in charge of the Black Cats. Sunderland went up just before halftime on an own goal from Cesar Azpilicueta, but Matthew Kilgallon relinquished the lead two minutes into the second half with an own goal of his own. Branislav Ivanovic would score the winner eight minutes later by redirecting a David Luiz shot with a backheel. Di Canio urged his team to attack in the final half-hour but Sunderland were unable to produce a single shot on goal, extending the club’s winless run to nine matches.
The Blues were able to jump back into third place after Tottenham failed to record three points at home earlier in the day. In fact, Spurs had to get an 87th-minute rebound goal from Gylfi Sigurdsson to grab just one point from their match with Everton, a 2-2 draw. After Emmanuel Adebayor scored 33 seconds into the match, Everton fired back with goals from Phil Jagielka and Kevin Mirallas. It seemed that the Toffees were about to jump into the heart of the race for European qualification with a win, but Sigurdsson was able to equalize for a Tottenham offense that was sorely missing star winger Gareth Bale.
Here is a closer look at all of this weekend’s action from Europe’s top leagues:
Although the move back into the top four for the first time since December did not last more than a day, Arsenal recorded a much-needed 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. Tomas Rosicky scored both goals for the Gunners at The Hawthorns, and they appeared to be coasting to a victory before Per Mertesacker was sent off for bringing down Shane Long in the box. James Morrison’s penalty conversion put pressure on the Arsenal defense, but the visitors held off a charging West Brom side to notch their sixth win in their last seven league matches.
Aston Villa moved two points clear of the drop zone on Saturday, using a late surge to defeat Stoke City 3-1. Stoke, who now only have one win from their last 13 matches, appeared to have snatched a point from their home match with Villa after Michael Kightly equalized in the 80th minute. But Villa’s Matthew Lowton scored a Goal of the Year candidate three minutes from time to give his side the lead. Christian Benteke sealed the crucial three points for the Villans in stoppage time, slicing right through the Potters’ defense for an easy finish. As Villa celebrated their third win in four matches, Stoke City now sit just three points above the relegation line.
Here are the results from this weekend’s Premier League action:
Southampton 2, Reading 0
Norwich City 2, Swansea City 2
Aston Villa 3, Stoke City 1
Arsenal 2, West Bromwich Albion 1
Liverpool 0, West Ham United 0
Tottenham Hotspur 2, Everton 2
Chelsea 2, Sunderland 1
Newcastle United 1, Fulham 0
QPR 1, Wigan Athletic 1
The top two clubs in La Liga each scored five goals in their Saturday matches, giving them some extra momentum entering the return legs of the Champions League quarterfinals. Despite the absence of goal machine Lionel Messi, Barcelona routed last-place Mallorca 5-0 in a special night at Camp Nou. Cesc Fabregas recorded his first career hat trick during the Catalans’ stretch of five goals in 26 minutes, and Eric Abidal made an emotional first appearance for the side in 14 months—the veteran French defender underwent a liver transplant last April.
Second-place rival Real Madrid fell behind 10th-place Levante in the 31st minute, but the defending champions rallied for five goals in the final hour to win 5-1 at the Bernabeu. Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil both scored off the bench in the victory as Jose Mourinho elected to rest some of his starters prior to Tuesday’s trip to face Galatasaray.
Meanwhile, Real Sociedad extended their lead over Malaga to four points following a 4-2 victory on Saturday. Malaga manager Manuel Pellegrini elected to make eight changes from the lineup that held Borussia Dortmund to a scoreless draw last Wednesday, and Sociedad took full advantage of their opponents’ weaker lineup. Sociedad scored three goals in the span of ten minutes to open up a 3-0 lead, and defender Inigo Martinez sealed the victory for the home team in the 51st minute with a fine header. Valencia has now emerged as the new threat to Real Sociedad’s coveted 4th-place spot as the new fifth-place club defeated Real Valladolid 2-1 by way of a Jonas goal deep into stoppage time.
Here are the results from this weekend’s La Liga action:
Real Betis 5, Granada 1
Real Sociedad 4, Malaga 2
Real Madrid 5, Levante 1
Deportivo La Coruna 3, Real Zaragoza 2
Barcelona 5, Mallorca 0
Rayo Vallecano 2, Celta Vigo 0
Espanyol 2, Osasuna 0
Getafe 0, Atletico Madrid 0
Valencia 2, Real Valladolid 1
Borussia Dortmund may have failed to repeat as Bundesliga champions, but the club got closer to their recent league goal of finishing above Bayer Leverkusen with a 4-2 win over Augsburg. While Leverkusen played out a 1-1 draw with 12th-place Wolfsburg, Dortmund rallied to score three second-half goals to defeat their relegation playoff-bound opponents. Julian Schieber’s opening goal was erased by a quickfire double from Augsburg, prompting Jurgen Klopp to insert his usual attack combo of Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski into the side. The move paid off instantly for Dortmund as Schieber equalized with his second goal moments after the double switch. After a dreadful shooting night at Malaga last week, Lewandowski got back to his scoring ways in stoppage time, sealing the win after Neven Subotic scored from a Gotze free kick.
Schalke 04 continued their recent run of good performances with a 2-0 win at Werder Bremen on Saturday, moving the club four points behind third-place Leverkusen and three points ahead of Freiburg and Eintracht Frankfurt. After a slow start to the match, Schalke’s offense came alive in the second half. Julian Draxler’s 51st minute goal came in-between two fine efforts from Schalke that had to be stopped by some incredible individual efforts from the Bremen defense. But that same defense would play a huge hand in Schalke’s second goal as Ciprian Marica scored after a backpass to the keeper went horribly wrong for the home side.
Here are the results from this weekend’s Bundesliga action:
Hoffenheim 3, Dusseldorf 0
Bayer Leverkusen 1, Wolfsburg 1
Borussia Dortmund 4, Augsburg 2
Borussia Monchengladbach 1, Greuther Furth 1
Bayern Munich 1, Eintracht Frankfurt 0
Schalke 04 2, Werder Bremen 0
Freiburg 1, Hamburg 0
Nurnberg 2, Mainz 1
Hannover 96 0, Stuttgart 0
Down two goals and a man with less than a half hour left, things looked grim for European hopeful Fiorentina in their home match with AC Milan. But the Viola drew and converted two penalties in seven minutes, securing a precious point to stay six points behind their Milan opponents. After David Pizarro’s bad turnover led to Milan’s opening goal, Fiorentina defender Nenad Tomovic was sent off for elbowing Stephan El Shaarawy. Mathieu Flamini gave Milan a 2-0 lead in the second half to silence the crowd at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. However, two defensive mistakes in the box from Milan allowed Fiorentina to steal a point at home as Pizarro redeemed himself with a 73rd-minute equalizer.
Inter Milan also had a tough time holding onto a late two-goal lead on Saturday—but instead of a draw, the Nerazzurri were handed a loss after Atalanta’s German Denis recorded a hat trick in the span of 12 minutes. Ricardo Alvarez’s second half brace gave Inter a 3-1 lead with 25 minutes left in the match. But, just like in AC Milan’s match, a 65th minute penalty signaled the beginning of the end for Inter. Denis converted the penalty and quickly added two more goals. A shocked Inter squad pressed for the equalizer in stoppage time, but Andrea Ranocchia’s wide-open shot from a yard out inexplicably flew over the bar to end the match.
Here are the results from this weekend’s Serie A action:
Juventus 2, US Pescara 1
Bologna 2, Torino 2
Fiorentina 2, AC Milan 2
Catania 0, Cagliari 0
Palermo 3, Sampdoria 1
Siena 0, Parma 0
Udinese 3, Chievo Verona 1
Atalanta 4, Inter Milan 3
Napoli 2, Genoa 0
Paris Saint-Germain kept their seven-point lead over Marseille intact with a 2-0 win over Stade Rennes on Saturday. While Carlo Ancelotti elected to rest most of his starters ahead of their return leg at Barcelona on Wednesday, Jeremy Menez and Zlatan Ibrahimovic started and scored in PSG’s Ligue 1 victory. Hosts Stade Rennes were outplayed for the majority of the 90 minutes, effectively killing their chances at European qualification.
St-Etienne moved to a Champions League-qualifying third place in the league table on Sunday after a 1-0 victory over relegation candidate Evian Thonon. The hosts dominated possession against Evian Thonon throughout the match, but goalkeeper Bertrand Laquait was able to keep Etienne out of the goal for the first 75 minutes of the match. However, Laquait could do nothing to stop Romain Hamouma’s unmarked header off a cross. Although it was officially ruled a Laquait own goal, the game-winner had more to do with the French midfielder’s effort than a Laquait mistake.
Here are the results from this weekend’s Ligue 1 action:
Marseille 1, Bordeaux 0
PSG 2, Stade Rennes 0
Nancy 1, Troyes 0
Bastia 4, Brest 0
Montpellier 3, Valenciennes 1
Sochaux 0, Ajaccio 0
Nice 4, Toulouse 3
St-Etienne 1, Evian Thonon 0
Stade de Reims 1, Lyon 0
Lille 5, Lorient 0
What do you think of the weekend’s results? Would you consider Bayern’s league campaign one of the most dominant ones in history? Who do you think will finish higher this season, Chelsea or Tottenham? What are your thoughts on Barcelona’s five-goal performance without Messi?
Share your comments below.