Saturday, May 4, 2013
Arsenal, Tottenham on course for Champions League
MANCHESTER, England -- Tottenham and Arsenal relied on the strength of their wingers Saturday to stay on course for qualification for next season's Champions League.
Gareth Bale smashed home a shot in 86th-minute from the edge of the penalty area, leading Tottenham to a 1-0 victory over Southampton in the Premier League. It was his 20th league goal of the season, coming in his first game since he was honored as English soccer's player of the year.
"A great moment of individual brilliance," Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas said.
It wasn't enough to lift Tottenham above rival Arsenal. Theo Walcott scored the quickest goal of the season -- after 20 seconds -- to earn the Gunners a 1-0 win at Queens Park Rangers.
Arsenal climbed into third place -- two points ahead of Chelsea and Tottenham but having played more games than both its London rivals. Chelsea visits Manchester United on Sunday.
At the bottom of the standings, Wigan avoided relegation with a 3-2 victory, keeping the team third from last but reducing the gap to Sunderland to two points.
Aston Villa took a big step to the safety zone. Gabriel Agbonlahor's two goals led a 2-1 win at Norwich, which is only three points ahead of Wigan but has played a game more. Newcastle is even on points with Norwich after drawing 0-0 at West Ham.
Man City dropped points in its bid to finish second by drawing 0-0 at Swansea. The deposed champions are five points ahead of Arsenal. Already-relegated Reading won 4-2 at Fulham.
Hull will return to the Premier League after a three-year absence. It finished second in the League Championship ahead of Watford.
BERLIN -- Borussia Dortmund held Bayern Munich to a 1-1 draw in the Bundesliga before their Champions League final in three weeks.
Kevin Grosskreutz opened the scoring for Dortmund with a volley in the 11th minute, and Mario Gomez tied it with a header from Rafinha's cross in the 23rd.
Dortmund was awarded a penalty kick when Nuri Sahin's shot struck Jerome Boateng's arm, but Manuel Neuer saved Robert Lewandowski's effort in the 60th minute.
Rafinha was sent off for an elbow to Jakub Blaszczykowski's face in the 64th, two minutes after the Brazilian earned his first yellow card for a foul on Julian Schieber.
Bayern, which wrapped up the title with six rounds to go, maintained its 20-point lead over Dortmund.
BARCELONA, Spain -- Cristiano Ronaldo headed in two goals to help Real Madrid beat Valladolid 4-3 in a Spanish league match that was overshadowed by growing dissatisfaction with Madrid coach Jose Mourinho for criticizing the club.
Madrid's ninth straight home win in league play denied Barcelona the chance to clinch the league title this weekend.
Madrid reduced Barcelona's lead to eight points, meaning the Catalan side can't seal the domestic title by beating Real Betis on Sunday.
Elsewhere, third-place Atletico Madrid booked its spot in next season's Champions League with a 0-0 draw at Deportivo La Coruna. Also, Valencia eased to a 4-0 win over nine-man Osasuna to stay in the hunt for a top-four finish, while Malaga lost 1-0 at Granada to slip three points behind Valencia in sixth place.
Sections of the crowd jeered Mourinho's name when it was announced before the match, scolding the manager for his recent comments that he may be leaving the club and a country where he doesn't feel "loved."
Mourinho used his team's exit from the Champions League on Tuesday as an opportunity to link his immediate future to a return to England. He repeated on Friday that he didn't know if he would stay at Madrid next season, while also taking another veiled shot at benched Spain international Iker Casillas by saying his only mistake was not having brought in new goalkeeper Diego Lopez before this winter.
That latest dig at Madrid's captain even made some of Mourinho's most trusted players bristle.
Mourinho, who is under contract with Madrid until the summer of 2016, appears to running out of allies at the club. He didn't speak after the match, sending assistant Aitor Karanka in his place.
Karanka supported his boss, saying that "no player has been disrespected," while accepting the ire of Madrid's fans for what they widely perceive as a snub by Mourinho.
MILAN -- Chievo Verona is all but certain of playing in Serie A next season after its goalless draw at home to Cagliari.
Cagliari got off to what seemed a promising start when Marco Sau beat the offside trap and raced clear toward the goal. But Chievo goalkeeper Christian Puggioni parried his powerful shot.
Chievo had the best chance of the match shortly before halftime. Nicolas Frey nodded on Cyril Thereau's cross to Boukary Drame, whose fierce volley was blocked by Cagliari goalkeeper Michael Agazzi. Radja Nainggolan almost won it for Cagliari with a long, screaming shot that flew just past the left post.
Chievo has eight points more than relegation-threatened Genoa and Palermo, who play on Sunday.
PARIS -- Marseille beat Bastia 2-1 in the French league to postpone Paris Saint-Germain's title celebrations for at least another week.
With three rounds left and a six-point lead in Marseille, PSG cannot clinch the title this weekend but it has a vastly superior goal difference to Marseille. PSG hosts Valenciennes on Sunday.
Andre-Pierre Gignac scored in each half for Marseille at Stade Velodrome to help keep the pressure on PSG. Florian Thauvin tied it for Bastia 53 seconds after halftime as Marseille conceded its first goal in eight matches.
Marseille has almost mathematically secured second place. It is seven points ahead of third-placed Lyon, which plays at Nancy on Sunday.
LISBON, Portugal -- FC Porto won 3-1 at Nacional to keep the pressure on Benfica as the Portuguese league season reaches its finish.
Porto's victory cut Benfica's lead at the top of standings to one point before the leaders host Estoril Monday.
Forward James Rodriguez opened for Porto in the 10th minute. Eliaquim Mangala doubled the advantage in the 19th, and Lucho Gonzalez added a third goal from the penalty spot three minutes later.
Daniel Candeias scored for the hosts in the 27th.
Porto hasn't lost at Nacional since the 2007-08 season.
Both Porto and Benfica are undefeated this season.