European soccer roundup - Juventus, Ajax claim titles
REUTERS - Juventus and Ajax Amsterdam claimed the Italian and Dutch titles respectively on Sunday as two more of Europe's top leagues were decided.
Chelsea ensured the race for Champions League spots in the Premier League will go down to the wire after they beat Manchester United 1-0 while in Spain, Barcelona substitute Lionel Messi scored twice as the La Liga leaders beat Real Betis.
Juventus clinched their second successive Serie A title with three games to spare by beating Palermo 1-0.
Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal scored the only goal from a 59th-minute penalty and Juventus had Paul Pogba sent off late in the game for spitting at an opponent.
Uruguay forward Edinson Cavani scored a hat-trick to give second-placed Napoli, 11 points behind Juventus, a 3-1 win over Inter Milan and a late goal from Mario Balotelli gave third-placed AC Milan a 1-0 win over Torino.
Germany forward Miroslav Klose scored five goals in Lazio's 6-0 rout of Bologna and Pescara were relegated.
Lionel Messi came off the bench to score twice and secure Barcelona a 4-2 home victory over Real Betis that put them within touching distance of the La Liga title.
Betis twice took the lead at the Nou Camp, with Alexis Sanchez and David Villa grabbing equalisers before Messi took to the field in the 56th minute and scored an outstanding free kick and then finished off a flowing passing move in the 71st.
With four games left to play, Barca are 11 points clear of second-placed Real Madrid, who beat Real Valladolid 4-3 at home helped by a brace from Cristiano Ronaldo.
Barca could secure their fourth league title in five years on Wednesday if Real fail to beat Malaga at the Bernabeu.
Chelsea beat champions Manchester United 1-0 when an angled shot from Spaniard Juan Mata was deflected into the goal by Phil Jones in the 87th minute.
United defender Rafael was sent off two minutes later for kicking out at fellow Brazilian David Luiz and the result put Europa League finalists Chelsea back into third in the table with 68 points from 35 games.
Arsenal, who beat relegated Queens Park Rangers 1-0, are in fourth, a point further back but having played one match more. Tottenham Hotspur are on 65 points after Gareth Bale's late goal gave them a 1-0 win over Southampton.
Wigan Athletic's hopes of avoiding the final relegation spot were boosted with a 3-2 win over West Bromwich Albion. They have 35 points, two behind 17th-placed Sunderland.
Bayern Munich, already crowned champions, and second-placed Borussia Dortmund drew 1-1 in a feisty match three weeks before their Champions League final at Wembley.
Kevin Grosskreutz's superb volley gave hosts Borussia an early lead and Mario Gomez equalised before halftime as Bayern's run of 14 successive league wins was ended.
Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer saved a Roberto Lewandowski penalty in the second half and the Bavarians had full back Rafinha sent off shortly afterwards as they stayed 20 points clear at the top.
Dortmund have already qualified for next season's Champions League group stage and Bayer Leverkusen joined them, guaranteeing a top three finish with a 2-0 win at Nuremberg.
Paris St Germain had Thiago Silva sent off in a frustrating 1-1 home draw with Valenciennes that slowed their march towards a first French league title since 1994.
A week after having two players sent off at Evian, PSG picked up another red card when the central defender was dismissed in the first half for putting his hand on the referee.
In the closing stages, Alex cancelled out Gael Danic's early opener to put PSG on 74 points, seven points ahead of Olympique Marseille who beat Bastia 2-1.
Olympique Lyon are third after a Bafetimbi Gomis double helped them beat Nancy 3-0 away.
Ajax Amsterdam won their third consecutive title with one match remaining thanks to a 5-0 thrashing of bottom side Willem II Tilburg.
Goals by Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, Christian Eriksen, Viktor Fischer, Siem de Jong and Danny Hoesen left the 50,000 strong crowd in raptures as Ajax captured their 32nd Dutch title.
PSV Eindhoven, four points adrift of Ajax, remain on track for second spot and a Champions League qualification berth following a 4-2 win over NEC Nijmegen.
Second-placed Porto scored three early goals in their 3-1 win at Nacional to keep the pressure on league leaders Benfica, who host Estoril on Monday.
Porto temporarily moved to within one point of Benfica thanks to a tap-in from Colombian forward James Rodriguez, a neat backheel from centre back Eliaquim Mangala and a Lucho Gonzalez penalty.
Benfica are on 73 points and Porto on 72. The two will clash at the Dragao stadium next weekend in what could be the title-decider.
(Compiled by Josh Reich; Editing by Alison Wildey)
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Barcelona forward Lionel Messi set a La Liga record of 253 goals when he grabbed a hat-trick in Saturday's 5-1 win at home to Sevilla, the latest milestone for the four-times World Player of the Year. Full Article