The leaders of Europe's biggest leagues all avoided
slip-ups at the weekend and now look odds-on for title glory.
Bayern Munich extended their cushion atop of the Bundesliga to ten
points, while Real Madrid, Manchester United and Inter Milan also
recorded crucial wins to stay nine, six and four points clear
FIFA.com reviews the action from around the continent.
Premier League: United end Arsenal's title challenge
Manchester United took a giant stride towards the Premier League title, coming from behind to beat third-placed Arsenal 2-1 courtesy of goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Owen Hargreaves. The narrow but ultimately deserved victory sent United nine points clear of the Gunners, who are marooned in third and now retain only theoretical hopes of the title. Chelsea will move to within three points of United if they overcome Wigan Athletic on Monday.
At the bottom, Fulham beat Reading and Bolton Wanderers overcame West Ham United to keep alive their flickering hopes of avoiding the drop.
Top three: Manchester United (80 points), Chelsea
(74), Arsenal (71)
Bottom three: Bolton Wanderers (29 points), Fulham (27), Derby County (11)
Top scorers: Cristiano Ronaldo (28 goals), Fernando Torres (22), Emmanuel Adebayor (20)
Weekend stat: A lack of stamina has cost Arsenal dear this season. The Gunners' title challenge has stumbled and faded on the back of just one win in their last seven matches.
La Liga: Real Madrid close in on title
With Barcelona unexpectedly dropping points, Real Madrid took advantage with a 1-0 victory over Murcia, Dutch international Wesley Sneijder netting the only goal of the game. Coach Bernd Schuster's side were already down to ten men at the time after Miguel Torres' 19th-minute dismissal.
For their part, Barça were held 2-2 by relegation-haunted Recreativo Huelva. Star striker Samuel Eto'o fired the Catalans in front after just two minutes, but Huelva's Marco Ruben levelled four minutes from the break. Eto'o restored Barcelona's lead immediately after the restart, but Ruben grabbed a second equaliser 20 minutes from time. Villarreal lost ground in a surprise 1-0 defeat at Almeria, another bad setback for the side in third following last week's 2-0 reverse at Sevilla. Villarreal now lie a point behind Barcelona, themselves nine adrift of leaders Real.
Top three: Real Madrid (69 points), Barcelona
(60), Villarreal (59)
Bottom three: Real Zaragoza (34 points), Real Murcia (29), Levante (22)
Top scorers: Luis Fabiano (23 goals), Daniel Guiza (18), Raul (16)
Weekend stat: Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o continued his rich vein of form, which has brought him 14 goals in as many games.
Bundesliga: End of the road for Schalke coach Slomka
Schalke were responsible for the headline news on Matchday 27 in Germany, collapsing to a 5-1 defeat at Werder Bremen and firing coach Mirko Slomka 24 hours later. Bremen leapfrogged Schalke and Hamburg, who slipped to fourth after a 1-0 home defeat to struggling Duisburg, into second.
Apart from Werder, the big winners of the weekend were leaders Bayern Munich. The Bavarians beat Borussia Dortmund 5-0 and stretched their advantage at the top to ten points.
Top three: Bayern Munich (60 points), Werder Bremen (50), Schalke (48)
Bottom three: Duisburg, Arminia Bielefeld (both 25 points), Nuremberg (23)
Top scorers: Luca Toni (18 goals), Mario Gomez (15), Mladen Petric (13)
Weekend stat: Bayer Leverkusen forward Sergej Barbarez became the Bundesliga's longest-serving overseas player on Sunday. The Bosnian entered the fray after 41 minutes of Bayer's meeting with Stuttgart to register his 324th German top-flight appearance.
Serie A: Inter keep Roma at bay
Inter continue to dictate at the head of the Italian top flight after defeating Fiorentina 2-0 at home late on Sunday evening to maintain a four-point lead over Roma. After a dour first half, Esteban Cambiasso and Mario Balotelli sealed the points for the Milanese giants. Roma had earlier laid down the gauntlet with a 3-1 victory at Udinese.
In the league's traditional clash of the titans, Juventus edged AC Milan in a five-goal thriller in Turin. Bosnian Hasan Salihamidzic claimed a brace on 45 and 80 minutes to win it for the home side. Alessandro del Piero had fired Juve in front on 12 minutes, but a Filippo Inzaghi double on 14 and 31 minutes temporarily tipped the balance Milan's way.
Top three: Inter Milan (75 points), Roma (71), Juventus (61)
Bottom three: Reggina (30), Empoli (30), Livorno (29)
Top scorers: Marco Borriello (19 goals), David Trezeguet (17), Adrian Mutu, Antonio di Natale (both 16)
Weekend stat: Milan's 3-2 reverse by Juventus was their ninth defeat of the season. The Rossoneri last suffered as many defeats back in 2002/03.
Ligue 1: Bordeaux take advantage as Lyon slip
Second-placed Bordeaux moved to within four points of leaders Lyon with a 2-1 success against Caen, Fernando Cavenaghi netting a brace against the promoted outfit. Leaders Lyon had earlier been pegged back on Friday, conceding a stoppage-time equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Rennes.
In the race for UEFA Champions League qualifying places, Marseille won 2-1 away to doomed Metz and overtook Nancy, losers away to Lille by the same score.
Top three: Lyon (68 points), Bordeaux (64), Marseille (55)
Bottom three: Paris St. Germain (35 points), Strasbourg (35), Metz (18)
Top scorers: Karim Benzema (17 goals), Mamadou Niang (15), Fernando Cavenaghi (14)
Weekend stat: Fernando Cavenaghi likes to get his goals in pairs. The Bordeaux marksman claimed a seventh brace of the season at the weekend.
Promoted Vitoria Guimaraes are the team of the moment in Portugal, defeating Boavista 1-0 to take second spot from Sporting. Way ahead of the chasing pack, Porto have already retained their domestic title. In Turkey, Galatasaray beat Trabzonspor 1-0 to go level with leaders Fenerbahce on 67 points with four games remaining.