Arsenal powers 7 points clear in Premier League
LONDON (AP) — Arsenal powered to a seven-point lead in the Premier League after beating Cardiff 3-0 on Saturday, with Aaron Ramsey’s prolific season touching new heights with a double against his former club.
There was more misery for Fulham at the other end of the standings, with a demoralizing 3-0 loss at fellow struggler West Ham keeping the team in the bottom three and leaving beleaguered manager Martin Jol fighting for his job.
Ramsey marked his return to his boyhood club by taking his remarkable goal tally for the season to 13 in all competitions. Mathieu Flamini scored in between in the leaders’ 10th victory in 13 games.
“This is where I started my career and where everything began, and hopefully they’ve seen the player they produced today,” said Ramsey, arguably the Premier League’s star player so far this season.
Everton moved level on points with second-place Liverpool and third-place Chelsea, which both play Sunday, with a crushing 4-0 home win over Stoke that was rounded off by Romelu Lukaku’s eighth goal in nine league games.
At the bottom, Crystal Palace dropped to last place by losing 1-0 at Norwich in Tony Pulis’ first match in charge of the London side.
Martin Jol acknowledged on Friday that he could be fired if he lost against West Ham at Upton Park and again at home to former club Tottenham on Wednesday. The Dutchman is halfway there after this fifth straight league defeat.
“It is not in my hands,” Jol said. “If I have to worry, I was probably worried a couple of months ago because it is not one day and then the other. It is probably the last two months we have been inconsistent.”
Sunderland climbed off the bottom with a 0-0 draw at Aston Villa, and Newcstle hosts West Bromwich Albion in the late game.
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Diego Costa scored his 15th goal of the Spanish league season to seal Atletico Madrid’s 2-0 win at Elche on Saturday, provisionally lifting Diego Simeone’s side level with Barcelona at the top of the table.
Celta Vigo came back to beat Almeria 3-1 for its first home victory at Balaidos Stadium in eight attempts this season under first-year manager Luis Enrique.
Diego Costa fired in substitute Adrian Lopez’s chipped throughball to secure the three points in the 74th after Jorge “Koke” Resurreccion had opened the scoring in the 63rd.
Diego Costa is the league’s second leading scorer through 15 rounds behind injured Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo with 17 goals.
Later on Saturday, third-place Madrid hosted Valladolid, looking to close its six-point gap with its two title rivals, while Real Sociedad visits Espanyol.
Barcelona can reclaim sole possession of the league lead when it plays at Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.
MILAN (AP) — Antonio Cassano scored his 100th Serie A goal as Parma was held to a 1-1 draw by 10-man Bologna in the Italian league on Saturday.
Bologna took the lead in the Emilia-Romagna derby in the 10th minute when Panagiotis Kone latched onto Rolando Bianchi’s ball over the defense and fired it past Antonio Mirante from 25 meters.
Cassano’s strike was even more spectacular as the forward volleyed an unstoppable effort into the top left corner.
Bologna played almost the entire second half with 10 men after Frederik Sorensen was sent off following a second booking in the 52nd minute.
Bologna almost snatched all three points when Kone curled a free kick just wide of the left upright nine minutes from time.
Genoa hosts Torino later.
BERLIN (AP) — Arjen Robben scored twice for unbeaten Bayern Munich to beat bottom side Eintracht Braunschweig 2-0 in the Bundesliga on Saturday, while Borussia Dortmund needed two late penalties to win 3-1 at Mainz.
Robben scored in the second minute after Mario Goetze picked him out with a ball over the top. The Dutchman’s initial effort struck the post but the rebound fell kindly for him to head home.
He added his second in the 30th when he cut inside two defenders before letting fly.
Dortmund found Mainz a tough nut to crack as Juergen Klopp returned to the club where he spent his entire playing career and coached for 7½ years.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang finally broke the deadlock in the 70th, with a free kick that went in off the left post. Mainz tied it on Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting’s penalty four minutes later after Lukasz Piszczek brought down Yanus Malli.
Robert Lewandowski restored Dortmund’s lead through another penalty five minutes after that, and Mainz midfielder Elkin Soto was sent off for handling Aubameyang’s effort on goal, before Lewandowski gave the scoreline a flattering look with another penalty in injury time.
Werder Bremen scored in the last minute for a 4-4 draw at Hoffenheim, Bayer Leverkusen beat relegation-threatened Nuremberg 3-0 and Hertha Berlin drew 0-0 with Augsburg.
PARIS (AP) — Monaco showed little sign of missing star striker Radamel Falcao as it beat Rennes 2-0 on Saturday to keep up the pressure on French league leader Paris Saint-Germain.
James Rodriguez curled in a free kick in the 19th minute to give Monaco the lead after the Colombia forward had been tripped by Cheikh M’Bengue.
Anthony Martial was handed his first league start in place of the injured Falcao and the 17-year-old forward scored on the stroke of halftime, exchanging passes with Emmanuel Riviere just inside the area before firing into the bottom right corner.
Rennes almost got one back 12 minutes from time but Tiemoue Bakayoko’s effort crashed off the right upright.
Monaco moved provisionally into second place, two points above Lille which travels to Valenciennes later. It is two points behind defending champion PSG, which hosts Lyon on Sunday.
Earlier, Saint-Etienne eased to a comfortable 4-0 win at home to Reims.