Football - European roundup-Barcelona, Man United close in on titles

Robin van Persie was on the scoresheet for the first time in 10 games as Manchester United closed in on the Premier League title with a 2-0 win over Stoke City.


Neighbours Manchester City were also celebrating after beating Chelsea to earn a place in next month's FA Cup final against Wigan Athletic.

Former Manchester United striker Cristiano Ronaldo was in commanding form with two goals for Real Madrid in their win over Athletic Bilbao and the absence of Lionel Messi did nothing to slow Barcelona's march towards the La Liga title as they beat Real Zaragoza 3-0.


Manchester United took another big step towards reclaiming the Premier League title with a 2-0 win at Stoke City as Manchester City and Wigan Athletic booked an FA Cup final meeting at Wembley.

Michael Carrick put United ahead at Stoke with an early goal and a second-half penalty by Robin van Persie sealed a victory which left Alex Ferguson's team 15 points ahead of second-placed City with six games left.

Champions City, who have seven league games to play, beat Chelsea 2-1 at Wembley on Sunday in the second FA Cup semi-final, Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero scoring the goals.

Premier League strugglers Wigan overcame Championship (second division) Millwall 2-0 on Saturday to reach their first FA Cup final. The match was marred by fighting among Millwall supporters and 14 people were arrested.

Arsenal climbed to third in the Premier League, scoring three late goals to secure a 3-1 victory over Norwich City on Saturday.


Leaders Barcelona fielded a weakened side but still enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 win at Real Zaragoza that left them on 81 points, 13 clear at the top of La Liga with seven games left.

Thiago Alcantara opened the scoring and Cristian Tello notched two more goals as they cruised to victory with a side shorn of players such as Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice and set up a third for Gonzalo Higuain as a near full-strength Real muscled their way to a 3-0 win at Athletic Bilbao to stay second with 68 points.

Atletico Madrid were three points adrift in third after Radamel Falcao scored twice in a 5-0 home rout of Granada, and Real Sociedad were 11 points further back in fourth after an Imanol Agirretxe double gave them a 2-0 win at Rayo Vallecano.


Napoli drew 1-1 at AC Milan in a battle between the second and third-placed Serie A teams, improving their chances of a Champions League group stage place next season but reducing their hopes of catching leaders Juventus.

The result meant that Napoli, on 63 points, are still eight behind Juventus, who visit Lazio on Monday. Milan, meanwhile, stayed four behind Napoli in third place, which earns a place in the Champions League playoff round.

Mathieu Flamini fired Milan ahead in the 29th minute and Goran Pandev replied four minutes later as a scrappy game briefly came to life, but Frenchman Flamini was sent off for a studs-up tackle in the second half.

Milan may also have to look over their shoulder at fourth-placed Fiorentina, who moved within four points of them by winning 2-0 at Atalanta.


Germany's Champions League semi-finalists Borussia Dortmund went on a scoring spree in the Bundesliga, blasting five first-half goals in a 6-1 win at Greuther Fuerth while champions Bayern Munich defeated Nuremberg 4-0.

With two goals from Ilkay Guendogan and Mario Goetze and one each from Jakub Blaszczykowski and Bundesliga top scorer Robert Lewandowski, Dortmund cruised to victory with ease four days after their last-gasp victory over Malaga in the Champions League.

Jerome Boateng, Mario Gomez, Rafinha and Xherdan Shaqiri were on target for Bayern, who wrapped up the title last week with six games to spare.

Bayern are top on 78 points, with Dortmund in second on 58. Bayern Leverkusen are a further eight points behind in third place after their 2-2 draw against fourth-placed Schalke 04.


Paris St Germain moved nine points clear at the top of the Ligue 1 table with six games left thanks to a laboured 1-0 victory at bottom club Troyes and a 0-0 draw for second-placed Olympique Marseille.

Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda was in inspired form to rescue a point for the side, who recorded their fifth consecutive clean-sheet with the draw at Lille.

Olympique Lyon climbed up to the third and final Champions League qualifying spot, two points behind Marseille, after they beat mid-table Toulouse 3-1 to end a three-game losing run.

They 56 points, two more than St Etienne, in fourth after a goalless draw at Valenciennes, and Nice, who overcame lowly Sochaux 3-0.


Ajax Amsterdam registered their first win in Eindhoven since 2007, beating PSV 3-2 to go five points clear in the league with four matches remaining.

Kolbeinn Sigthorsson and Christian Eriksen put Ajax ahead twice only for Jeremain Lens to score an equaliser each time. However, the home side lacked an answer to Derk Boerrigter's winner 13 minutes from time.

Vitesse Arnhem moved into second despite dropping a three-goal lead in a 3-3 draw at lowly Roda JC Kerkrade.

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