European soccer roundup - Barca, Bayern stay strong but PSG lose

LONDON Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:24pm IST

(L-R) Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates his goal with teammates Pedro Rodriguez, Thiago Alcantara, Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta during their Spanish first division soccer match against Granada at Los Carmenes stadium in Granada February 16, 2013. REUTERS/Pepe Marin

(L-R) Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates his goal with teammates Pedro Rodriguez, Thiago Alcantara, Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta during their Spanish first division soccer match against Granada at Los Carmenes stadium in Granada February 16, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Pepe Marin

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LONDON (Reuters) - Barcelona and Bayern Munich maintained dominance of their respective leagues but there was a shock for French Ligue 1 leaders Paris St Germain who lost to end a nine-match unbeaten run.

In England, Arsenal suffered a shock FA Cup fifth-round defeat by second tier Blackburn Rovers, ending their best remaining chance of winning a first trophy for eight years.

SPAIN

World Player of the Year Lionel Messi passed the 300-goal mark for Barcelona as he guided the La Liga leaders to a 2-1 comeback win with a double in Granada on Saturday.

The Argentine pounced on a loose ball for the equaliser just after halftime and curled a superb free kick over the wall for the winner, his 37th goal in La Liga this season and 301st of his Barca career.

Second-placed Atletico Madrid remembered how to win away again when Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Cristian Rodriguez scored in a 3-0 victory at Real Valladolid, their first win on the road since November.

Barca have 65 points from 24 games, Atletico 53 and Real Madrid 49 in third after surviving an 18th-minute red card for Sergio Ramos to beat city rivals Rayo Vallecano 2-0 at home thanks to early goals from Alvaro Morata and Ramos.

ENGLAND

Ten-times FA Cup winners Arsenal suffered a shock 1-0 fifth- round home defeat by Championship (second division) Blackburn Rovers, one of three second-tier sides through to the quarter-finals.

A late Colin Kazim-Richards goal won it for Blackburn at the Emirates and the final whistle was greeted by a chorus of boos by home fans.

Everton were held to a 2-2 draw by third-tier Oldham Athletic but Premier League sides stamped their authority on the competition on Sunday. Holders Chelsea eased past Brentford 4-0 in a fourth-round replay while in fifth-round ties 2011 winners Manchester City crushed Leeds United 4-0 and Wigan Athletic won 4-1 at Huddersfield Town.

In the weekend's one Premier League match, Liverpool thrashed below-strength Swansea City, eyeing next weekend's Capital One Cup final, 5-0 at Anfield to leapfrog the Welsh side into seventh place.

GERMANY

Bayern Munich continued their dazzling run towards a first Bundesliga title since 2010 with a 2-0 victory at VfL Wolfsburg that kept them 15 points clear at the top.

Forward Mario Mandzukic notched his 15th goal of the campaign and substitute Arjen Robben grabbed his first in stoppage time to register the Bavarians' 18th win in 22 games.

Marco Reus was in fine form for Borussia Dortmund and scored a hat-trick in their 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt that helped them stay in second place.

Bayer Leverkusen are a point behind after Stefan Kiessling scored once to join Mandzukic at the top of the scorers' chart on 15 and set up another goal in their 2-1 victory over Augsburg.

FRANCE

Paris St Germain's march towards a first French league title since 1994 was slowed on Sunday when they suffered a 3-2 defeat at Sochaux.

Cedric Bakambu netted the winner for the hosts to end PSG's nine-match unbeaten run in Ligue 1 and allowed Olympique Lyon, who thrashed Girondins Bordeaux 4-0 away, to narrow the gap to three points.

PSG have 51 points from 25 games and next week face third=place Olympique Marseille, who are five points off the lead after Rod Fanni's stoppage-time goal gave them a 1-0 home win over Valenciennes on Saturday.

Nice climbed to fourth on 42 points thanks to teenager Neal Maupay, who scored the only goal at Bastia on Saturday.

The Mediterranean side leapfrog St Etienne who drew 1-1 at Stade Reims on Sunday.

NETHERLANDS

Goals from Dries Mertens and Georginio Wijnaldum helped PSV Eindhoven overcome Utrecht's early opener to win 2-1 and stay three points clear at the top of the Dutch league.

Ajax Amsterdam beat RKC Waalwijk 2-0 to stay three points behind as Twente Enschede and Feyenoord fell further adrift.

Twente were held to a 1-1 draw by bottom side Willem II Tilburg and Feyenoord slumped to a 3-2 defeat at strugglers Zwolle.

PORTUGAL

Champions Porto and last season's runners-up Benfica stay locked together at the top of the Portuguese Premier League after respective wins over Beira Mar and Academica.

The fierce rivals remain joint-leaders on 49 points after 19 matches.

Ghana international Christian Atsu returned from the African Cup of Nations to open the scoring for Porto with a clinical first-half shot and Colombia striker Jackson Martinez wrapped up a morale-boosting 2-0 away win.

Porto face Malaga in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Benfica dug deep to overcome Academica 1-0 at home, with Brazilian striker Lima converting from the spot deep in stoppage time. (Editing by Toby Davis)

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