Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By JUSTIN FERGUSON
Thanks to some heroics from striker Edin Dzeko, Manchester City are two wins away from an English Premier League title.
Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City team defeated fifth-place Everton, who were eliminated from Champions League contention, on Saturday by a scoreline of 3-2 at Goodison Park. After scoring machine Sergio Aguero left with an injury midway through the first half, Dzeko took over for the visiting Citizens with a goal on both sides of the halftime break.
Everton’s Ross Barkley put the Toffees out in front with a marvelous long-range goal, but Aguero equalized for high-scoring Manchester City with a shorter finish past USMNT goalkeeper Tim Howard. Dzeko scored his first goal in the 43rd minute and started the second half like he finished the first, knocking a decisive goal for the title-minded Citizens in the 48th minute. Romelu Lukaku pulled one back for Everton in the 65th minute to setup a tense finish at Goodison Park, but Manchester City held onto push themselves into the EPL lead with two home matches remaining against bottom-half sides.
In Spain, the front runners for La Liga’s title fell in shocking fashion as Atletico Madrid were beaten 2-0 by 10th-place Levante. Felipe Luis scored an own goal in the opening minutes of the match, and the Atletico offense could not find a way to the back of Keylor Navas’ net for the entire road match. Levante sealed the three points in the 69th minute thanks to David Berral, whose goal gave new life to the title fights for both second-place Barcelona and third-place Real Madrid with just two weekends remaining in the campaign.
Here is a closer look at all the weekend’s action from the top leagues in Europe:
Third-place Chelsea lost their momentum in the EPL title race Sunday with a scoreless draw against relegation-zoned Norwich City at Stamford Bridge. Despite dominating possession and firing 23 shots, Chelsea’s offense struggled at their home stadium against a defensive-minded Norwich squad looking for any points necessary in their relegation fight. But even with a point from their trip to the Bridge, Norwich will still need 17th-place Sunderland to drop points later this week in order to have a chance at staying in the EPL next season.
Sunderland condemned Cardiff City and Fulham to relegation and almost secured their own safety with a 1-0 victory at Manchester United. The Black Cats notched the match’s only goal at the half-hour mark when Sebastian Larsson scored on a cross from Conor Wickham, which was Sunderland’s only shot on goal in the entire match. Sunderland had not won at Manchester United’s home of Old Trafford since 1968, and their historic win Saturday could be the moment that keeps them in England’s top division.
Here are the results from this weekend’s English Premier League action:
West Ham United 2, Tottenham Hotspur 0
Sunderland 1, Manchester United 0
Stoke City 4, Fulham 1
Southampton 1, Swansea City 0
Aston Villa 3, Hull City 1
Newcastle United 3, Cardiff City 0
Manchester City 3, Everton 2
Arsenal 1, West Bromwich Albion 0
Chelsea 0, Norwich City 0
Second-place Barcelona took a major step back in their title hunt Saturday when they drew 2-2 with Getafe, who earned an important point in their fight to avoid relegation. Lionel Messi opened the scoring at Camp Nou with a 23rd-minute strike, but Getafe striker Lafita equalized 14 minutes later off a set piece. While Alexis restored Barcelona’s advantage in the 67th minute, Lafita came through again for Levante with a late stoppage-time goal past Barcelona goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto.
Third-place Real Madrid also dropped points with a 2-2 home draw, but Los Blancos were the ones on a positive end of a stoppage-time equalizer Sunday. Visiting Valencia went on top just before halftime through a Jeremy Mathieu goal, and teammate Daniel Parejo put his squad back on top in the 65th minute after Sergio Ramos equalized for Real Madrid. Cristiano Ronaldo would be the hero for the Champions League finalists, making sure he and his teammates would gain a small amount of ground in the title race with a spectacular goal off a backheel flick in second-half stoppage time at the Bernabeu.
Here are the results from this weekend’s La Liga action:
Athletic Bilbao 3, Rayo Vallecano 0
Barcelona 2, Getafe 2
Elche 1, Malaga 0
Celta Vigo 2, Osasuna 0
Real Valladolid 1, Espanyol 0
Almeria 3, Real Betis 2
Levante 2, Atletico Madrid 0
Sevilla 0, Villarreal 0
Real Madrid 2, Valencia 2
The race for the final Champions League spot in the Bundesliga will go down to the final weekend with three points separating fourth and sixth place in the league table. Fourth-place Bayer Leverkusen kept hold of their spot Saturday with a 2-0 road win against Eintracht Frankfurt. Leverkusen scored both goals in the first half against an ineffective Frankfurt with Gonzalo Castro and Emre Can scoring in the span of 10 minutes midway through the half to put Leverkusen on track for another spot in next season’s major continental competition.
Fifth-place Wolfsburg, who trail Leverkusen by one point, stayed in the hunt for the Champions League with a thrilling 2-1 road win at Stuttgart. Kevin De Bruyne put the visitors ahead in the 13th minute with a stunning, long-range strike, but Stuttgart equalized near the hour mark when former Wolfsburg player Christian Genter beat old teammate Diego Bengalio. The match appeared to be heading to a disappointing draw for Wolfsburg until Ivica Olic scored from close range in stoppage time to grab the win against Stuttgart, who were officially safe from relegation despite the loss.
Here are the results from this weekend’s Bundesliga action:
Borussia Dortmund 3, Hoffenheim 2
Borussia Monchengladbach 3, Mainz 1
Bayer Leverkusen 2, Eintracht Frankfurt 0
Bayern Munich 4, Hamburg 1
Hannover 2, Nurnberg 0
Schalke 2, Freiburg 0
Augsburg 1, Eintracht Braunschweig 0
Wolfsburg 2, Stuttgart 1
Werder Bremen 1, Hertha Berlin 0
Juventus won their third consecutive Serie A title this weekend without taking the field as second-place AS Roma were stunned 4-1 by relegation-fighting Catania. Mariano Izco put the hosts out to a shocking 2-0 lead in the first half before Francesco Totti’s goal for AS Roma, but the damage was already done for the capital club. Gonzalo Bergessio and Pablo Barrientos scored in the second half to finish the important victory for Catania, who are three points below the relegation line with two matches remaining in the league schedule.
Eighth-place AC Milan secured a vital win in their fight for a Champions League spot Sunday with a 1-0 derby victory against rivals Inter Milan. Both sides had a hard time generating much offense throughout the match, and losing Inter failed to register a single shot on Christian Abbiati’s goal. Nigel de Jong proved to be the difference for “hosts” AC Milan, who scored the match-winner in the 65th-minute off a header from a Mario Balotelli free kick.
Here are the results from this weekend’s Serie A action:
Catania 4, AS Roma 1
Torino 1, Chievo Verona 0
Genoa 0, Bologna 0
Parma 2, Sampdoria 0
Udinese 5, Livorno 3
AC Milan 1, Inter Milan 0
Fifth-place Marseille, who are still in the hunt for a Europa League spot heading into Ligue 1′s final weekend, used a torrent of goals in the first hour of action at the Stade Velodrome to put away Lyon 4-2 on Sunday in the latest matchup of France’s two Olympique clubs. Soulemayne Diawara and Florian Thauvin gave Marseille a two-goal advantage before Arnold Mvuemba pulled one back for visiting Lyon. Pierre-Andre Gignac netted a quickfire brace for Marseille right after the break, leaving Lyon with nothing but a Bafetimbi Gomis consolation goal in the dying moments of the match.
Here are the results from this weekend’s Ligue 1 action:
Bastia 1, Lille 1
Saint Etienne 2, Montpellier 0
Lorient 1, AC Ajaccio 0
Sochaux 2, Nice 0
Stade de Reims 1, Evian Thonon Gaillard 0
Toulouse 1, Nantes 1
Bordeaux 1, Valenciennes 0
Marseille 4, Lyon 2
What did you think of this weekend’s European league action? Impressed with Manchester City’s road win against Everton? Think the Citizens will take care of business in their last two matches? Surprised at Atletico Madrid’s loss to Levante? See any more shakeups in La Liga’s title race?
Share your thoughts below.