Barca stays in control in Spain; City grabs late winner
LONDON (AP) — Lionel Messi helped Barcelona stay in control of the title race in Spain, while Manchester City left it late for a victory that inched the English champions toward Champions League qualification.
Here is a look at the action in Europe’s top leagues:
Messi and Neymar scored for Barcelona in a 2-0 win at Espanyol that provisionally increased its lead over Real Madrid to five points.
Luis Suarez, the third member of the star-studded attack, played a part in both goals against Barcelona’s cross-town rival.
Messi’s incisive pass started a move that Neymar finished off in the 17th minute after Suarez coolly let the ball run between his legs. Suarez then crossed for Messi to double the visitors’ advantage in the 25th with his 47th goal in 48 games this season.
Madrid visits Celta Vigo on Sunday.
Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann recorded his third brace in as many league games as the defending champions brushed aside Elche 3-0 at home, strengthening their hold on third place. Levante edged away from the relegation zone with a 1-0 victory at Getafe.
Manchester City’s disappointing season looks like ending with the consolation prize of Champions League qualification after an unconvincing win over Aston Villa opened a nine-point gap to the fading chasers for the Premier League’s top four.
An 89th-minute goal by Fernandinho earned City a 3-2 victory that moved the soon-to-be-deposed champions provisionally into second place — above Arsenal and Manchester United, who both play on Sunday. More importantly, City was nine points ahead of fifth-place Liverpool and sixth-place Tottenham with four games remaining after their draws.
Liverpool drew 0-0 at West Bromwich Albion, and Spurs twice came from behind to draw 2-2 at Southampton. For two teams looking to reel in what increasingly appears a locked-in top four, a point isn’t enough at this stage.
Leicester and Hull enjoyed significant away wins at the bottom of the standings, dropping Sunderland into the relegation zone in what looks like a fight to the final day for survival.
Watford sealed promotion to the Premier League after an eight-year absence by guaranteeing a top-two finish in the second-tier League Championship with a 2-0 win at Brighton.
Bastian Schweinsteiger scored with 10 minutes remaining for Bayern Munich to beat Hertha Berlin 1-0 and move even closer to the Bundesliga title.
Mitchell Weiser eluded four Hertha defenders and cut the ball back for Schweinsteiger to score with a fine strike to the top corner.
Bayern will claim its 25th German title on Sunday if second-place Wolfsburg fails to beat Borussia Moenchengladbach away.
Mauro Icardi scored in added time as Inter Milan beat visiting Roma 2-1 in Serie A to signal a late charge for a spot in Europe.
Roma remained level second with Lazio, which hosts Chievo Verona on Sunday.
Also, AC Milan’s four-match unbeaten run was halted by a 2-1 loss at Udinese.
On Sunday, Juventus can clinch its fourth straight title if it beats Torino in a derby and Lazio loses.
Paris Saint-Germain bounced back from its lackluster performance against Barcelona by thrashing Lille 6-1 to move three points ahead of Lyon at the top of the French league.
Lyon still has a marginally better goal difference and can move back to the top if it wins away at Reims on Sunday.
Winger Ezequiel Lavezzi grabbed a hat trick and striker Edinson Cavani scored twice in what midfielder Blaise Matuidi called PSG’s “best performance of the season.”
League Cup winner PSG remains on course for an unprecedented domestic treble, and will be looking to plunder more goals on Tuesday when it plays its game in hand at home to 19th-place Metz.