Roundup-Tight at top in France, Arsenal lose at Wembley


Sun, 27 Feb 22:48:00 2011

Only four points separate the top five clubs in France after leaders Lille were held 1-1 at home by Olympique Lyon. In contrast, Barcelona lead La Liga by seven points after beating Real Mallorca 3-0 and Borussia Dortmund are 12 clear in the Bundesliga after overcoming Bayern Munich 3-1.

In England, Arsenal suffered a surprise 2-1 defeat in the League Cup final at the hands of Birmingham City. Manchester United went four points clear in the Premier League with a 4-0 win at Wigan Athletic.


Leaders Lille drew 1-1 with championship rivals Olympique Lyon as the Ligue 1 title race got even tighter.

Stade Rennes are level on points with Lille after a 2-0 win over Racing Lens while champions Olympique Marseille are just a point behind in third after Andre Ayew's double secured a 2-1 win at AS Nancy.

Paris St Germain are a point further back in fourth following a 2-1 home win over Toulouse and Olympique Lyon are fifth.

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The first major trophy of the English season went to Birmingham City when they surprised Arsenal 2-1 in the League Cup final to end a 48-year wait for silverware on Sunday.

Relegation-threatened Birmingham won it with an 89th-minute goal by Obafemi Martins after a mix-up between defender Laurent Koscielny and goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, leaving Arsenal still searching for their first trophy in six years.

Manchester United took full advantage of Arsenal's Wembley distraction to move four points clear at the top of the Premier League thanks to a 4-0 win at Wigan Athletic. United lead on 60 points with Arsenal on 56. Manchester City are third with 50 after they were held 1-1 at home by Fulham.

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World Player of the Year Lionel Messi netted a rare header and Spain internationals David Villa and Pedro added a goal each to lift leaders Barcelona to a 3-0 win at Real Mallorca on Saturday.

Second-placed Real Madrid slipped up at Deportivo Coruna, twice hitting the post of a frustrating 0-0 draw that left them seven points behind the champions.

Barca have 68 points from 25 matches, with Real on 61.

Barca's victory stretched their unbeaten run in away matches to 19, equalling a La Liga record set by Basque club Real Sociedad in 1979-80.

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Second-half goals from Wesley Sneijder and Samuel Eto'o gave champions Inter Milan a 2-0 win at Sampdoria which moved them up to second place in Serie A and within two points of leaders AC Milan, at least for 24 hours.

Milan host Napoli, who were overtaken by Inter and dropped to third, on Monday.

The real fireworks, however, came in Sicily where Chile striker Alexis Sanchez scored four goals and Antonio Di Natale a hat-trick as Udinese won 7-0 at nine-man Palermo. Palermo coach Delio Rossi's chances of keeping his job were rated as "one percent" by his furious president Maurizio Zamparini.

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Borussia Dortmund extended their lead at the top of the Bundesliga to 12 points after beating champions Bayern Munich 3-1 to douse their rivals' flickering title hopes.

Dortmund's youngest Bundesliga team ever with an average age of about 22 years, gave the hosts no chance with former Bayern player Mats Hummels sealing the win after goals from Lucas Barrios and Nuri Sahin.

Luiz Gustavo equalised for Bayern, who are fourth on 42, 16 points behind Dortmund.

Second-placed Bayer Leverkusen failed to keep up with Dortmund, squandering a two-goal lead against Werder Bremen to draw 2-2.

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Left back Fabio Coentrao created one goal and scored another deep into injury time to give Benfica a 2-1 home win over Maritimo and keep their hopes of retaining their title alive.

But Benfica remain eight points adrift of undefeated leaders Porto, who posted their 19th win in 21 league games by beating Olhanense 3-0 away with two goals by Colombia striker Radamel Falcao and one by Argentine midfielder Fernando Belluschi.

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Offensive chanting by Twente Enschede fans aimed at the referee forced their game at AZ Alkmaar to be halted for 15 minutes.

They were venting their anger at Brazilian Douglas Costa's dismissal late in the first half.

Second-placed Twente lost 2-1 after conceding the winner in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

Twente are three points behind leaders PSV Eindhoven who were held to a 0-0 draw at home by third-placed Ajax Amsterdam.

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Champions Litex Lovech surged eight points clear at the top with a 3-0 win at Minyor Pernik in their first domestic match after the winter break.

They top the standings with 40 points, well ahead of Levski Sofia, beaten 3-1 at home by bitter city rivals CSKA.

Lively Brazilian winger Doka Madureira scored twice for the leaders, including a penalty. Senegalese striker Pape Diouf, who made his Litex debut after coming on as a second-half substitute, made it 3-0 in the injury time with a fine solo run.


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