Around The First Four of The Big Four II

In Spain Barcelona had a hard time to defeat Athletic, Pato gives Milan the winning goal in Italy, Borussia Dortmund mantains their ten point lead in Germany, and in England Manchester City was upset at home by Everton.

Once again Messi saves the day

No.2 Real Madrid played on Saturday at home against No.17 Levante for match day 24 in Spain. Decided to win and go to bed only two points away from Barcelona that had to play on Sunday, the Whites opened the score early, at minute 6 through Karim Benzema, and five minutes before halftime Ricardo Carvalho scored the definite 2-0. With this triumph Real Madrid reached 60 points in La Liga.

With the pressure from the victory their closest contender that was now only two points away, the leaders Barcelona received No.5 Athletic in need of a victory. The defending champions also wanted to overcome the setback from last week, when they tied to one on the road versus Sporting. With only three minutes of game David Villa put things 1-0 and the score wasn’t going to change until the second half, when Sergio Busquets committed a penalty on Fernando Lorrente that was scored by Andoni Iraola evening the result.

Unable to break through Athletic’s defense the Barcelona fans present in the Camp Nou began to worry about another draw, but Lionel Messi -who else if not him?- connected a cross ball from Daniel Alves with 13 minutes to go, and gave Barcelona the winning goal. The victory helps them keep their five-point lead over Real Madrid and reach 65 points.

No.3 Valencia couldn’t make the best of their home field advantage and tied with no goals versus Sporting, leaving two important points behind. The good news for them was that No.4 Villareal missed the chance reclaim the third place in the standings by tying to one at home against Malaga. This way Valencia has 48 points and Villareal 46.

Key win for Milan at Verona

Match day 26 was a positive one for the Top 4 in Italy, as they were all able to win their respective games. No.4 Lazio defeated last place Bari at home by 1-0 with Anderson Hernanes’ goal in minute 6, and secured the fourth place with 48 points.

Just one goal was enough for No.3 Inter to reach 50 points. At minute 7 Andrea Ranocchia scored the lonely goal with which the defending champions defeated at home No.9 Cagliari.

No.2 Napoli continued with the pattern of winning at home by the minimum thanks to a goal from Juan Camilo Zuniga in the first half. The Azzurri have 52 points, three less than the leaders Milan that had a rough time in Verona against No.13 Chievo.

A goal from Gelson Fernandes in minute 61 of the second half changed the outlook for a Milan that was winning until then, thanks to goal from Robinho in the first half. Immediately Coach Massimiliano Allegri decided to substitute Antonio Cassano for Alexandre Pato and his decision was accurate, as with eight minutes before the end Pato scored the winning goal. With 55 points Milan continue as the solo leaders of the Serie A.

Borussia Dortmund don’t give rivals a chance

The leaders didn’t suffer setbacks to defeat No. 13 St. Pauli at home by 2-0, and keep the ten-point lead over Bayern Leverkusen. A goal from striker Lucas Barrios in minute 39 and an own goal by unfortunate Ralph Gunesch were enough for Borussia Dortmund to keep leading the Bundesliga with 55 points after 23 rounds.

Second place Bayer Leverkusen are only focused in winning as they hope that Borussia Dortmund leaves some points on the way that allow them to reduce the ten point distance in the standings. And they didn’t lose their focus this weekend defeating second-bottom Stuttgart at home by 4-2. Stefan Kiessling opened the score at minute 7, nine minutes later Shinji Okazaki got the equalizer for Suttgart, and with four minutes before halftime Gonzalo Castro gave the home team the lead.

In the second half Zdravko Kuzmanovic tied the game for the visitors, and with only nine minutes left Stefan Reinartz scored the winning goal for Leverkusen. Later in the last minute of game Kiessling scored his second goal of the match to seal the victory and reach 45 points.

Bayern Munich secured their third place with a road win against No.5 Mainz 05 by 1-3. Bastian Schweinsteiger in the first half, and Thomas Mueller as well as Mario Gomez in the second one scored the goals for the defending champions (42 points). Sami Allagui would shorten distances for the home team with six minutes to go before the end.

Fourth place Hannover 96 had no problems to defeat third-bottom Kaiserslautern at home by 3-0, thanks to the goals from Jan Schlaudraff and Mohammed Abdellaoue in the first half and Schlaudraff again in the second half. With that victory they now have 41 points.

The Citizens’ risked their third place

The first 19 minutes of the game were enough for Everton to defeat third place Manchester City on the road. Tim Cahill at minute 4 and Leighton Baines at 19 frustrated the Citizens that were only able to score through an own goal from Phil Jagielka in the second half.

This setback compromised their third place in the Premier League standings, as their closest rival, Tottenham Hotspur, was playing round 27 until Tuesday on the road versus No. 15 Blackpool. If the Spurs won they would reach 50 points, one more than the Citizens.

Luckily for Manchester City Tottenham lost 3-1 to Blackpool with goals from Charlie Adam -through a penalty kick- and DJ Campbell -connecting a cross- in the first half for the Seasiders. In the second half Brett Ormerod put things 3-0 for the home team and Roman Pavyluchenko left things 3-1. With this loss the Spurs remain with 47 points.

Second place Arsenal still haven’t played round 27, they will do so on Wednesday when they receive last place Wolverhampton. This will be a good chance for the Gunners to reach 56 points and reduce the distance with the leaders Manchester United to only one point.

Manchester United’s round 27 match against fifth place Chelsea was postpone until further notice, but despite this, they will remain as the solo leaders with 57 points for at least one more week.

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