Man United, AC Milan, Barca close on titles
London: Manchester United, AC Milan and Barcelona closed in on their league titles as the major European leagues moved towards their conclusion over the weekend.
United stayed on course for a record 19th English league crown by beating Everton 1-0 and Chelsea remained six points adrift by overcoming West Ham United but Arsenal lost at Bolton Wanderers to slip nine points behind with four matches left.
Milan moved closer to their first Serie A title for seven years and La Liga leaders Barcelona maintained an eight-point advantage over Real Madrid as both teams won before they meet in the Champions League semi-finals.
The Premier League title battle turned into a two-horse race with Manchester United holding a six-point lead over Chelsea with four matches remaining.
Javier Hernandez scored an 84th-minute header to secure United`s 1-0 home win over Everton on Saturday and Arsenal lost 2-1 at Bolton Wanderers, conceding a last-minute header to Tamir Cohen which ended their 16-game unbeaten league run.
Chelsea defeated West Ham 3-0, helped by a first goal for the club by Spain striker Fernando Torres following his 50 million-pound ($79.69 million) January arrival from Liverpool.
United, who visit Schalke 04 in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Tuesday before going to Arsenal next weekend, have 73 points to Chelsea`s 67 with Arsenal on 64.
David Villa and Lionel Messi scored in a 2-0 home win for La Liga leaders Barcelona over Osasuna which maintained their eight-point advantage over Real Madrid at the top of the standings.
Real, who beat Barca 1-0 in Wednesday`s King`s Cup final, routed third-placed Valencia 6-3 with a hat-trick from Gonzalo Higuain and a Kaka double as the Spanish giants warmed up for their Champions League semi-final first leg at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.
Villa`s goal ended an 11-game scoring drought, while Messi`s strike was his 50th of the season in all competitions and his 31st in the league, putting him two clear of Real forward Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the scoring chart.
AC Milan took a further step towards their first Serie A title in seven years when a late Robinho strike gave the Rossoneri a 1-0 win at Brescia and an eight-point lead with four games to go.
Champions and city rivals Inter Milan beat Lazio 2-1 to move up to second place, ahead of Napoli who lost by the same score at Palermo, while Bari were relegated.
AS Roma beat Chievo Verona 1-0 to consolidate sixth place and close in on Udinese, three points ahead, and fourth-placed Lazio.
Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund put title celebrations on hold on after a surprise 1-0 defeat at relegation-threatened Borussia Moenchengladbach cut their lead to five points.
Dortmund are on 69 points with second-placed Bayer Leverkusen, who beat Hoffenheim 2-1, on 64 with three matches remaining.
Fourth-placed Bayern Munich needed an 89th-minute penalty by top scorer Mario Gomez to rescue a 1-1 draw at Eintracht Frankfurt and move a point behind third-placed Hanover 96, who beat Freiburg 3-1 to keep their own Champions League hopes alive.
Ligue 1 leaders Lille are under threat from Olympique Marseille after they drew 1-1 at Lorient on Sunday.
French champions Marseille, who won the French League Cup on Saturday, lie two points adrift of Lille and will claim top spot if they win their game in hand against Nice on Wednesday.
Paris St Germain`s title challenge suffered another blow on Sunday when the capital side were held 2-2 at Stade Brest. Stade Rennes`s challenge was also virtually ended after the fifth-placed team lost 1-0 at Monaco.
Monaco went two points clear of the danger zone with the win, while RC Lens are on the verge of relegation after drawing 1-1 at AJ Auxerre.
Defending champions Twente Enschede beat ADO Den Haag 2-1, with Bryan Ruiz and Luuk de Jong on target, to move one point clear on top of the league with two matches remaining.
Ajax Amsterdam, 4-1 winners over Excelsior Rotterdam, leap-frogged PSV Eindhoven, who suffered a 3-1 defeat at Feyenoord. Ajax have 67 points and PSV are on 65.