Real Madrid and Bayern Munich extended their leads at the weekend, while Inter maintained their four-point cushion and United and Lyon saw their closest challengers cut the gap.

With the season's end fast approaching, the championship races look to be all but over in Spain and Germany. But as reports in its weekly round-up of all the key action from Europe's major leagues, there is still everything to play for in Italy, France and England.

Premier League: Chelsea poised for an ambush
Snapped up from Heerenveen during the January transfer window, Middlesbrough striker Afonso Alves breathed new life into the Premier League race on Sunday with a well-taken double against Manchester United. The Brazilian's one-man show came close to toppling the leaders but Wayne Rooney struck late on to secure a 2-2 draw for the Red Devils.

Comfortable 2-0 winners at Manchester City on Saturday, Chelsea moved to within three points of United and will be hoping fellow Londoners Arsenal do them a favour when they visit Old Trafford next weekend. The fading Gunners remain third after they were held to a 1-1 draw at home in the second of their three games in a week against Liverpool. Only a win at Old Trafford next weekend will keep their title bid alive.

The smoke seems to be clearing on the basement battle after Fulham and Bolton both lost on a goal-packed weekend, although Birmingham City and Reading, four and six points clear of the relegation trapdoor respectively, are not quite out of danger yet.

Top three: Manchester United (77 points), Chelsea (74), Arsenal (71)
Bottom three: Bolton Wanderers (26), Fulham (24), Derby County (11)
Top scorers: Cristiano Ronaldo (27 goals), Fernando Torres (21), Emmanuel Adebayor (19)
Weekend stat: The United defence looked unusually fragile in shipping two goals against Boro. Prior to their trip the Riverside, Sir Alex Ferguson's side had conceded only 15 goals in 32 league encounters.

Bundesliga: Schalke 04 move second
Bayern continued on their seemingly inexorable way to a 21st league title when they saw off Bochum 3-1 at home to move nine points clear of the pack. Lying second at the start of the day, Hamburger SV saw their hopes of winning a first domestic crown since 1983 fade when they lost 1-0 away to reigning champions Stuttgart, who moved fifth to revive their chances of a top-three finish.

That defeat for the northerners allowed UEFA Champions League quarter-finalists Schalke 04 to slip into second place following a hard-fought 1-0 win over Hansa Rostock. Werder Bremen stayed fourth after registering a 2-1 win at Hertha Berlin, their first league triumph since 1 March.

Down at the bottom, Energie Cottbus and Arminia Bielefeld hauled themselves out of the drop zone to leave Hansa Rostock, Nuremberg and Duisburg at the bottom.

Top three: Bayern Munich (57 points), Schalke 04 (48), Hamburger SV, Werder Bremen (47)
Bottom three: Hansa Rostock (24), FC Nuremberg (23), MSV Duisburg, (22)
Top scorers: Luca Toni (16 goals), Mario Gomez (15), Mladen Petric (13)
Weekend stat: Hamburger SV's defeat to Stuttgart was their first in the league since 1 December and saw them move back to third behind Schalke 04.

La Liga: Real make their point
FC Barcelona let slip a golden chance to trim Real Madrid's lead. After LosMerengues were held to a 1-1 draw at Real Mallorca, the Catalans were unable to break down Getafe at the Camp Nou and now lie seven points adrift of their eternal rivals.

Real's weekend was made even sweeter by Villarreal's 2-0 reverse at Sevilla, putting an end to their four-game winning streak and an unbeaten run stretching back to late January.

Two teams to take major strides to escape the congested lower reaches of the table were Deportivo La Coruna, who downed fifth-placed Racing Santander 3-1, and Real Betis, comprehensive 3-0 winners at Zaragoza, a result that leaves the Maños firmly entrenched in the relegation zone.

Top three: Real Madrid (66 points), FC Barcelona, Villarreal (59)
Bottom three: Real Zaragoza (33), Real Murcia (29), Levante (19)
Top scorers: Luis Fabiano (23 goals), Daniel Guiza (17), Raul (16)
Weekend stat: Atletico Madrid and UD Almeria served up nine goals in a crazy clash at the Vicente Calderon. Argentinian prodigy Aguero scored two of his side's six goals to take his tally for the season to 12.

Serie A: Inter coping with the pressure
Still without Francesco Totti, AS Roma kept up the pressure on Inter Milan with an exciting 3-2 win at home to Genoa on Saturday. The frontrunners maintained their poise on Sunday, however, when France skipper Patrick Vieira scored the opener in a 2-0 defeat of Atalanta that restored their four-point cushion and kept them on course for a third consecutive scudetto.

With six games still to go, the fight for fourth place and the final UEFA Champions League slot is far from over. Currently lying fifth, AC Milan boosted their bid with a 3-1 win at home to Cagliari on Saturday only to see Fiorentina draw four points clear again when they beat Reggina 2-0 the following day. Sampdoria moved into contention by downing Livorno 2-0 to leapfrog into sixth ahead of Udinese, who drew 1-1 at Siena. Juventus remain third despite going down to Palermo but are now only two points ahead of La Viola.

Top three: Inter Milan (72 points), AS Roma (68), Juventus (58)
Bottom three: Empoli, Cagliari (29), Reggina (27)
Top scorers: Marco Borriello (18 goals), David Trezeguet (17), Adrian Mutu (16), Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Antonio di Natale (15)
Weekend stat: Patrick Vieira scored his first league goal of the season in Bergamo on Sunday. The Frenchman set the Milanese on their way, helping them to end a run of three games without a win.

Ligue 1: Marseille and Nancy hang tough
Marseille definitely seem to have the measure of l'OL this season, trumping the league leaders for the second time with a 3-1 home win on Sunday evening. Mamadou Niang scored twice as the Southerners halted the six-time champions' advance and allowed Bordeaux to cut their lead to six points. Niang and Co remain fourth, however, still three points behind Nancy, 1-0 winners earlier in the day over PSG.

At the other end of the table, meanwhile, the game of musical chairs looks set to continue to the end of the season with the four teams occupying the four places above soon-to-be-relegated Metz all tied on 35 points. Down in the mire wth PSG are Lens and Toulouse, who were held to respective home draws by Metz and Lorient, and Strasbourg, who dropped to 19th place after falling to AS Monaco 2-0 at home, the Monegasques' first win since 23 January.

Top three: Olympique Lyonnais (67 pts), Girondins Bordeaux (61), AS Nancy (55)
Bottom three:
RC Lens, Toulouse FC, PSG, RC Strasbourg (35), FC Metz (18) Top scorers: Karim Benzema (17 goals), Mamadou Niang (15), Fernando Cavenaghi, Djibril Cisse, Tulio De Melo (12)
Weekend stat: Sunday's narrow win over the struggling Parisians was Nancy's 12th in 15 home games. What made the result even more notable was the fact it was PSG's first defeat at Nancy in 22 years.

Other leagues: Three in a row for peerless Porto
Saturday saw FC Porto claim their 23rd Portuguese championship and their third title in a row after they crushed Estrela Amadora 6-0, an emphatic result that took them 18 points clear of Vitoria Guimaraes with only five rounds of games remaining.

In the Netherlands, Klaas Jan Huntelaar grabbed a hat-trick in Ajax's 4-1 defeat of De Graafschap to take his Eredivisie tally for the season to 32, just three short of the target he set himself in an exclusive interview with back in September. But with PSV Eindhoven also winning, the men from Amsterdam remain five points off the pace.