LONDON, April 17 Barcelona closed in on a third
straight La Liga title when they drew 1-1 at 10-man Real Madrid,
while Manchester City reached the FA Cup final for the first
time in 30 years by beating arch-rivals Manchester United 1-0.
AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund stepped closer to the Italian
and German titles respectively when they won and their nearest
rivals lost at the weekend.
Barcelona took a giant stride towards a third straight La
Liga title when they drew 1-1 at 10-man Real Madrid on Saturday
to preserve their eight-point lead over their arch rivals at the
top with six games left.
In a tense encounter at a packed Bernabeu, the first of four
clashes between the teams in three competitions in 18 days,
Lionel Messi put Barca ahead from the spot in the 53rd minute
after Raul Albiol was sent off for a foul on David Villa.
The champions were cruising towards a sixth consecutive
victory in the "Clasico" under coach Pep Guardiola when Dani
Alves felled Marcelo and the referee awarded another penalty,
converted by Cristiano Ronaldo in the 82nd minute.
Manchester City reached the FA Cup final for the first time
in 30 years by beating arch-rivals Manchester United 1-0 with a
Yaya Toure goal in their semi-final at Wembley.
United finished with 10 men after Paul Scholes was sent off
in the second half.
City will face Stoke City who reached the final for the
first time by scoring three times in the first half hour on the
way to a 5-0 win over Bolton Wanderers.
In the Premier League, second-placed Arsenal were held to a
1-1 home draw by Liverpool, keeping them six points leaders
United with six games to play. Both goals came from penalties
deep into stoppage time.
Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund cruised towards their
first German championship since 2002 as they eased past Freiburg
3-0 to open up an eight-point lead with four games left.
First half goals from Mario Goetze and Poland's Robert
Lewandowski put them in the driving seat before Kevin
Grosskreutz added another late in the game to lift them to 69
Second-placed Bayer Leverkusen were stuck in second place on
61 after slumping to a humiliating 5-1 defeat at Bayern Munich
courtesy of a Mario Gomez hat-trick.
The win lifted the champions up to third on 55 points and
kept their Champions League hopes alive.
AC Milan moved closer to a first Serie A title in seven
years when they beat Sampdoria 3-0 while second-placed Napoli
lost 2-1 at home to Udinese.
Those results left Milan six points clear of Napoli with
five matches each to play.
Clarence Seedorf, Antonio Cassano and Robinho shared the
goals for Milan. Napoli's defeat included a penalty miss by
their Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani, the championship's
second-top scorer with 25 goals.
Second-placed Olympique Marseille were the weekend's big
winners, coming back to beat Montpellier 2-1 while leaders Lille
drew 1-1 with Girondins Bordeaux.
Marseille, who triumphed thanks to Taye Taiwo's 82nd-minute
penalty, cut Lille's advantage to a point with seven games left.
Olympique Lyon, in third, lost 1-0 at Champions League
hopefuls Paris St Germain.
Bottom side Arles-Avignon, on a measly 13 points from 31
games, were relegated after a 1-0 home defeat by Valenciennes.
Porto, who have already been crowned champions, beat
Sporting 3-2 at home in Sunday's "classico" to stay undefeated
with three matches to play.
Andre Santos put Sporting ahead with a deflected shot after
11 minutes, but Colombia striker Radamel Falcao turned the score
around with headed goals in the 26th and 51st minutes.
Brazilian forward Walter scored a third on 87 minutes with a
first-time finish and Sporting responded almost immediately
thanks to a close-range shot by Chile playmaker Matias
Second-placed Benfica beat Beira-Mar 2-1 at home thanks to
goals by defender Sidnei and Argentine forward Franco Jara.
The Dutch league is set for a dramatic finale with one point
separating PSV Eindhoven, Twente Enschede and Ajax Amsterdam at
the top and three games each to play.
PSV Eindhoven, 2-0 winners at Heracles Almelo, went top on
goal difference from previous leaders Twente Enschede after the
champions could only manage a 1-1 draw at Graafschap Doetinchem.
Third place Ajax Amsterdam came from behind to beat NEC
Nijmegen 2-1 and are one point behind the leading pair. Ajax
will host Twente on the final matchday on May 15.
(Editing by Brian Homewood; To query or comment on this story