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Montpellier make gains, Madrid eye finishing line

Published: Monday 30 April 2012, 0.42CET
Montpellier Hérault SC moved five points clear at the top in France on a weekend that bolstered the title claims of Real Madrid CF and Juventus and resolved plenty of issues elsewhere.

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Published: Monday 30 April 2012, 0.42CET

Montpellier make gains, Madrid eye finishing line

Montpellier Hérault SC moved five points clear at the top in France on a weekend that bolstered the title claims of Real Madrid CF and Juventus and resolved plenty of issues elsewhere.

Montpellier Hérault SC moved a step nearer to their maiden Ligue 1 crown after a loss for rivals Paris Saint-Germain FC left the capital side five points adrift at the summit, while Real Madrid CF and Juventus both clinched wins that brought their own title dreams closer. The suspense is over in a number of other leagues, meanwhile, with FC Zenit St Petersburg taking the honours in Russia and FC Porto settling matters in Portugal. recaps the action.

Montpellier beat Toulouse FC 1-0 on Friday night to pile pressure on PSG to respond in kind against reigning champions LOSC Lille Métropole. However, a dramatic turnaround inspired by substitute Nolan Roux earned Lille a 2-1 win against ten-man PSG, leaving Carlo Ancelotti's charges five points shy of Montpellier and cutting their lead over Lille to just two points with four games remaining. "It has become very complicated," admitted Ancelotti. "The championship is not over; we will give a strong and immediate response." The French Cup is done and dusted, on the other hand, after Lisandro earned Olympique Lyonnais a 1-0 win against third-tier US Quevilly in the final.

Juventus retained their three-point lead at the Serie A summit as Mirko Vučinić struck twice in their rousing 4-0 defeat of Novara Calcio. The Bianconeri will be crowned champions if they win their next two games against US Lecce and Cagliari Calcio, but coach Antonio Conte warned against complacency. "Dangers can only come from ourselves now," said the 42-year-old. "Therefore, in our next fixtures we're required to get on the pitch with the right attitude, like we did today." AC Milan remain on their trail after a comfortable 4-1 victory at AC Siena, while the race for the last UEFA Champions League spot remains wide open, with four teams tied on 55 points.

FC Barcelona responded in scintillating fashion to the most exacting of weeks as they inflicted a 7-0 home loss on Rayo Vallecano de Madrid, but it was not enough to put any sort of dent into Madrid's Liga lead. Karim Benzema scored twice as José Mourinho's men beat Sevilla FC 3-0 to stay seven points clear with three games to go. "We didn't celebrate because we still need three points to win the title," said Benzema. "Winning the Spanish league would be a dream come true for me." Meanwhile, Málaga CF beat Valencia CF 1-0 to move level with their third-placed opponents on 55 points.

Tottenham Hotspur FC moved into fourth position on goal difference ahead of Newcastle United FC after a 2-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers FC at White Hart Lane, a win that leaves Spurs four points behind North London rivals Arsenal FC with a game in hand. "We've just got to keep trying to win the games," said Spurs boss Harry Redknapp, "and if we do, no one can finish above us. We've got a much better goal average than Newcastle. Chelsea are looking very dangerous, they're in fantastic form, but we'll see how we go." Newcastle fell to a 4-0 defeat at Wigan Athletic FC, while Chelsea FC's 6-1 win against Queens Park Rangers FC leaves them one point behind the Magpies in sixth.

FC Schalke 04 will compete in the UEFA Champions League group stage next season after wrapping up third spot in the Bundesliga with a 4-0 win against Hertha BSC Berlin, Raúl González finding the net in his last home game with the Royal Blues. "I scored in my last match and seeing the love of the fans during these two years has been very special," said the Spanish striker. "I have no words to describe it." Crowned last weekend, champions Borussia Dortmund also triumphed, beating 1. FC Kaiserslautern 5-2, while UEFA Champions League finalists FC Bayern München overcame VfB Stuttgart 2-0 and VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach drew 0-0 with FC Augsburg.

There were celebrations across the continent as title and cup issues were resolved this weekend, not least in Russia, where Zenit successfully defended the championship crown they won last season. There was joy in Portugal too, where FC Porto settled matters, while Basel won their third successive Swiss title, Avram Grant's FK Partizan took the honours in Serbia, Valletta FC prevailed in Malta and Neftçi PFK collected their seventh Azerbaijani crown. On the knockout front, Olympiacos FC lifted the Greek Cup for the 25th time and FC Shirak clinched the Armenian Cup.

Last updated: 05/12/13 6.47CET

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