Barcelona loses 2nd match this season to drop to 3rd in Spain; Arsenal into FA Cup final
Saturday, Apr 12, 2014 05:15 pm
LONDON - Barcelona isn't used to such demoralizing weeks. After being eliminated from the Champions League on Wednesday, the Catalan giant made a miserable return to Spanish league action, losing 1-0 at Granada on Saturday and dropping to third place.
It also looked like a bleak day for Arsenal until Arsene Wenger's side scraped into the FA Cup final by beating second-tier club Wigan in a penalty shootout.
Here's a look at the action from the leading leagues in Europe:
Barcelona's loss ensured the same Atletico Madrid that ousted it from the Champions League would retain the domestic lead with five more rounds to go — even before playing Getafe on Sunday.
"Normally Barcelona wins this game by four or five goals," Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino said. "After two losses, the squad feels that something important is slipping away."
Real Madrid moved ahead Barcelona into second place — only behind Atletico on goal difference for now — after beating Almeria 4-0. With Cristiano Ronaldo out injured, the goals came from Angel Di Maria, Gareth Bale, Isco Alarcon and Alvaro Morata.
Arsenal will have a chance to end its nine-year trophy drought in the FA Cup final next month, but it needed a late equalizer from Per Mertesacker to force the semifinal against Wigan into extra time before winning 4-2 in a shootout.
It made for the disappointment of dropping out of the Premier League's top four earlier in the day as Everton moved into the Champions League place by beating bottom-placed Sunderland 1-0.
While Sunderland looks doomed — seven points from safety with six games left — the race to avoid the other two relegation spots heated up after big wins for Fulham and Cardiff, who stayed in the bottom three but closed the gap to their rivals.
Third-bottom Fulham beat fourth-bottom Norwich 1-0 and next-to-last Cardiff surprisingly won 1-0 at Southampton, while Aston Villa is only four points from the bottom three after losing 1-0 at Crystal Palace thanks to in-form Jason Puncheon's goal. Just eight points separates the nine teams above Sunderland.
Sixth-place Tottenham came from 3-0 down after 31 minutes to draw 3-3 at West Bromwich Albion, and Newcastle lost 1-0 to Stoke.
It was an emotionally charged day in English football, with every league and cup match starting seven minutes later than originally scheduled to mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, in which 96 Liverpool fans died in a crush in the stands during an FA Cup semifinal against Nottingham Forest.
Roma kept up the pressure on Serie A leader Juventus with a comfortable 3-1 win against Atalanta on Saturday.
With a club-record equaling 24th league victory this season, Roma moved provisionally five points behind Juventus, which visits Udinese on Monday.
Monaco consolidated second place and put leader Paris Saint-Germain's title celebrations on hold by winning 1-0 at Rennes.
PSG could have clinched the title this weekend if Monaco lost and it won on Sunday at Lyon. For now, Monaco pulled within 10 points of the leader.
With the Bundesliga title already wrapped up and a Champions League semifinal against Real Madrid to prepare for, Bayern Munich lost 3-0 to second-placed Borussia Dortmund. Dortmund is 17 points behind Bayern but three points ahead of Schalke.