Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By JUSTIN FERGUSON
Like their last title victory, Manchester City’s English Premier League title-clinching performance had to come on the final day of the league’s long season.
But this time featured significantly less drama as the Citizens easily dispatched West Ham United 2-0 in a match that they needed just a draw from in order to win their second title in three seasons.
Samir Nasri and captain Vincent Kompany scored on both sides of halftime to put away the struggling Hammers on Sunday at Ethiad Stadium, where the sky blue faithful celebrated their club’s high-scoring championship season. After a long stretch of pressure, Nasri smacked a long, low shot in the 39th minute to put Man City on the scoreboard. While Kompany clinched the match and the trophy five minutes after the halftime break with a short-range strike, West Ham never threatened Joe Hart’s goal with a total of three off-target shots in joyous Manchester.
In Spain, first-place Atletico Madrid had a chance to clinch their own league title as second-place Barcelona remained scoreless at Elche, but a dramatic stoppage-time save from Malaga’s Willy Caballero secured a 1-1 draw at the Vicente Calderon. With a three-point lead atop Barcelona, Atletico could have secured La Liga’s title in front of their home fans Sunday. But after Samuel struck midway in the first half for visiting Malaga, Atletico were only able to get an equalizer from Toby Alderwield despite several chances against a clutch Caballero.
Here is a closer look at all the weekend’s action from the top leagues in Europe:
With Liverpool’s 2-1 win against Newcastle United turned meaningless in the title picture with Man City’s victory, the focus on Championship Sunday turned to a Champions League qualifier who still has one match left this season. Arsenal geared up for next weekend’s FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium with a 2-0 road win against Norwich City, who were officially relegated with the loss. Aaron Ramsey, who was replaced by the returning Jack Wilshere midway through the second half, and Carl Jenkinson scored after halftime to put away the Canaries in another dreadful result for Norwich at Carrow Road.
Hull City, who will face Arsenal next weekend in the FA Cup Final, finished their EPL season on a sour note with a 2-0 loss at the hands of fifth-place Everton. James McCarthy put Roberto Martinez’s squad out in front with a goal in the ninth minute of the match, while Chelsea loanee Romelu Lukaku added another goal to his impressive tally at Everton shortly after halftime. Hull now have only won once in their last eight matches, a less-than-stellar run of form to enter Wembley with their sights on a domestic trophy.
Here are the results from this weekend’s English Premier League action:
Chelsea 2, Cardiff City 1
Fulham 2, Crystal Palace 2
Everton 2, Hull City 0
Liverpool 2, Newcastle United 1
Manchester City 2, West Ham United 0
Arsenal 2, Norwich City 0
Southampton 1, Manchester United 1
Swansea City 3, Sunderland 1
Tottenham Hotspur 3, Aston Villa 0
Stoke City 2, West Bromwich Albion 1
Second-place Barcelona set up a winner-takes-all clash against league-leading Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou next weekend after a scoreless draw at Elche. Barcelona had plenty of chances to pull level on points with Atletico on Sunday, but they were never able to find the back of Manu Herrera’s net as Elche ensured their survival in Spain’s top division with the draw. Barcelona will need a victory against Atletico to grab the league title next weekend as they trail by three points but would own the head-to-head tiebreaker for the trophy.
Third-place Real Madrid could have pulled themselves into the thick of the title race Sunday with their two main rivals posting draws, but the undermanned squad lost 2-0 to Celta Vigo, eliminating them from contention. Real were without Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, and Celta Vigo’s Charles bagged a brace against the slumping Blancos to push his squad into eighth place in La Liga. Real Madrid now can put all their focus on their upcoming Champions League Final against crosstown rivals Atletico, but they have now gone three straight matches without a victory.
Here are the results from this weekend’s La Liga action:
Villarreal 4, Rayo Vallecano 0
Levante 2, Valencia 0
Athletic Bilbao 1, Real Sociedad 1
Atletico Madrid 1, Malaga 1
Celta Vigo 2, Real Madrid 0
Elche 0, Barcelona 0
Espanyol 1, Osasuna 1
Getafe 1, Sevilla 0
Almeria 2, Granada 0
Real Betis 4, Real Valladolid 3
Bayer Leverkusen nailed down the final Champions League spot in the Bundesliga on Saturday with a 2-1 victory against Werder Bremen at the BayArena. Leverkusen started off on the wrong foot in front of their home fans when Theodor Gebre Selassie scored an opening goal for the visitors, but they rebounded when Omer Toprak scored off a header from Heung-Min Son’s pass. Son would play the hero once more in the second half, netting the decisive goal in the 53rd minute to clinch Leverkusen’s fourth win in their final five matches and a spot in the world’s biggest club tournament next season.
Here are the results from this weekend’s Bundesliga action:
Bayer Leverkusen 2, Werder Bremen 1
Bayern Munich 1, Stuttgart 0
Augsburg 2, Eintracht Frankfurt 1
Hannover 3, Freiburg 2
Borussia Dortmund 4, Hertha Berlin 0
Mainz 3, Hamburg 2
Schalke 4, Nurnberg 1
Hoffenheim 3, Eintracht Braunschweig 1
Wolfsburg 3, Borussia Monchengladbach 1
Serie A champions Juventus set a new points record Sunday with a dramatic 1-0 road win against second-place AS Roma, their biggest adversaries to a three-peat during the season. Pablo Osvaldo, a former Roma star sold to the EPL’s Southampton and later loaned to Juve, netted a last-second winner for the visiting champions to the dismay of his former club. Osvaldo, who had not scored for Juve since arriving in January, scored the lone goal in a back-and-forth matchup between two sides who will most likely be the top two contenders for the Scudetto next season.
Fifth-place Inter Milan sealed a spot in next season’s Europa League with a commanding 4-1 win against Lazio, who seem to be out of contention for continental qualification. Rodrigo Palacio’s brace and Mauro Icardi’s lone strike put the hosts up 3-1 in the first half of action at the San Siro, and Hernanes scored in the 79th minute against his former club to seal an emotional victory for Inter. Longtime Inter fixture Javier Zanetti came on in the second half for his final home match for the club, and he was able to celebrate with his fans one last time after an important win for his teammates’ European hopes.
Here are the results from this weekend’s Serie A action:
Hellas Verona 2, Udinese 2
Inter Milan 4, Lazio 1
Atalanta 2, AC Milan 1
Catania 2, Bologna 1
Chievo Verona 1, Cagliari 0
Fiorentina 1, Livorno 0
Napoli 5, Sampdoria 2
Sassuolo 4, Genoa 2
Torino 1, Parma 1
Juventus 1, AS Roma 0
Third-place Lille, who were in a good run of form heading into the penultimate weekend’s action in France, needed a victory Saturday to clinch a place in next season’s Champions League. Unfortunately for Les Dogues, they ran into Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain, who got back to their winning ways with a 3-1 decision away from home. Despite having more shots on goal than PSG, Lille only got a 90th-minute consolation goal after Marquinhos, Lucas Moura and Blaise Matuidi found the back of the net for the two-time defending champions at the Stade Pierre Mauroy.
Here are the results from this weekend’s Ligue 1 action:
AC Ajaccio 2, Stade de Reims 1
Bordeaux 1, Marseille 1
Evian Thonon Gaillard 2, Nice 0
Guingamp 2, Toulouse 0
Paris Saint-Germain 3, Lille 1
Lorient 1, Lyon 0
Bastia 2, Montpellier 0
Saint Etienne 3, Nantes 1
Sochaux 2, Stade Rennes 1
AS Monaco 2, Valenciennes 1
What did you think of this weekend’s European league action? Impressed with Manchester City’s high-scoring run to the English Premier League title this season? Who are your favorites to win it all in 2014-15? See Atletico Madrid getting the result they need at Camp Nou for their La Liga title?
Share your thoughts below.