Pitchside

European Review: Atletico keep title hopes alive, PSG win French league cup

Pitchside

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Atletico Madrid stayed on course for a surprise championship triumph in Spain with a 2-0 win over Elche that kept them four points clear at the summit while Barcelona stayed in touch with a 2-1 comeback win over Athletic Bilbao.

Juventus moved closer to a third straight Serie A crown with a 1-0 victory over Bologna, Paris St Germain won the French League Cup by defeating Olympique Lyon 2-1 and Benfica clinched a first Portuguese title since 2010.

SPAIN

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Atletico Madrid stayed firmly on course for a surprise title triumph when a Miranda header and Diego Costa's late penalty secured a 2-0 win for the leaders at home to Elche on Friday.

Lionel Messi smashed in a superb free kick to complete a 2-1 comeback victory for injury-hit Barcelona at home to Athletic Bilbao on Sunday that lifted them above Real Madrid into second and kept alive their slim hopes of catching Atletico.

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Aritz Aduriz fired fourth-placed Bilbao ahead five minutes into the second half, Pedro levelled in the 72nd minute and Messi struck the winner three minutes later when he drove the ball powerfully into the net, the Argentina forward's 26th goal of the campaign.

With four matches left including a trip to Barca on the final day of the season, Atletico top the standings on 85 points. Barca are second on 81, two ahead of Real, who have a game in hand.

ITALY

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Juventus moved closer to a third consecutive Serie A title when a long-range Paul Pogba goal beat a dogged

Bologna side 1-0 to keep them eight points clear of AS Roma at the top with four games to play.
Juve also maintained a 100 percent home record this season after 17 games.

Roma made sure of secured second spot and a Champions League place by winning 1-0 at Fiorentina with a Radja Nainggolan goal.

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Juventus, who visit Roma on the penultimate day of the championship, have 90 points, with Roma on 82 and Napoli on 68 after a 1-1 draw with Udinese.

AC Milan, making a late charge for European football, beat Livorno 3-0 for their fifth consecutive win.

FRANCE

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Monaco delayed Paris St Germain's march to the Ligue 1 title after Dimitar Berbatov's cheeky goal earned them a 1-0 win against neighbours Nice on Sunday to cement second place.

Bulgarian striker Berbatov casually lobbed David Ospina from the edge of the box in the fifth minute to put his side on 72 points with four games left.

Claudio Ranieri's side trail leaders PSG by seven points with the French champions playing their game in hand against Evian Thonon Gaillard on Wednesday.

PSG won the League Cup by beating Olympique Lyon 2-1 thanks to an Edinson Cavani double on Saturday.

GERMANY

Second-placed Borussia Dortmund made sure of a place in the Champions League group stage next season when a 4-2 win over Mainz 05 guaranteed them a top-three finish in the Bundesliga.

Bayern Munich, who have already wrapped up the title, won for the first time in four league games as they beat bottom club Eintracht Braunschweig 2-0 away with goals from Claudio Pizarro and substitute Mario Manduzkic.

The bottom three all lost at home leaving Hamburg, the only ever-present club in the Bundesliga's 51-year history, in 16th, the relegation playoff spot, and Nuremberg and Braunschweig in the drop zone.

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Hamburg crashed 3-1 to VfL Wolfsburg and Nuremberg were thumped 4-1 by Bayer Leverkusen who stayed in fourth, the Champions League playoff spot. VfB Stuttgart pulled four points clear of Hamburg with a 3-1 win over Schalke 04.

PORTUGAL

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Benfica clinched their first Portuguese league title since 2010 when the hosts beat bottom-of-the-table Olhanense 2-0 with a double from forward Lima on Sunday.

The 30-year-old Brazilian, a little-known journeyman until he joined Benfica two years ago, broke the deadlock in the 57th minute and added a second goal three minutes later helped by a blunder from goalkeeper Vid Belec.

Benfica's 11th successive league win gave them an unassailable seven-point lead over second-placed Sporting with two games to play.

Sporting's 1-0 win at Belenenses guaranteed them second place and a spot in next season's Champions League group stage.

NETHERLANDS

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PEC Zwolle secured a sensational 5-1 upset triumph over hot favourites Ajax in a drama-filled Dutch Cup final on Sunday which was twice halted after fans threw fireworks on to the pitch.

Ryan Thomas and Guyon Fernandez scored twice each in a shock first-ever trophy win for the provincial side, denying Ajax the chance of doing the league and cup double.

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