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European Weekend Review

The tension levels were ratcheted up in this weekend as a defeat for leaders added fresh uncertainty to the title race, in contrast to the situations in and France, where leaders and Lille both managed big wins.

Italy
It was the perfect end to the perfect week for , who qualified for the quarter-finals on Tuesday and have now closed to within two points of Milan. A 1-0 loss for the leaders at Palermo on Saturday gave Inter their chance, and they responded with victory by the same scoreline against US Lecce, Giampaolo Pazzini’s winner setting up a tantalising Milan derby in two weeks’ time. “It won’t be a decisive match and I don’t want to talk about revenge against my old side,” said Inter coach Leonardo, who was at the Rossoneri helm last season. “We go into the match in great form but we have a lot of players on international duty beforehand.”

England
Manchester United won what could prove to be three crucial points in the Premier League title race as Dimitar Berbatov struck an 88th-minute winner in a 1-0 success against Bolton Wanderers, United having earlier lost Jonny Evans to a red card. “You have to keep believing and trusting each other,” said midfielder Michael Carrick. “Experience helps because we have done it a few times before.” The result took the victors five points clear of , who have a game in hand but were left frustrated after drawing 2-2 at . are now third thanks to their 2-0 victory against Man City.

France
Lille gave another demonstration of their title credentials by fighting back from behind to win 2-1 at Stade Brestois 29. “The pressure is on our pursuers now,” said Lille coach Rudi Garcia, whose charges surged five points clear after that result, with Rennes only able to draw 1-1 with fellow high-fliers Lyon. Lille’s cushion was then cut to four points on Sunday as titleholders moved into second spot with a 2-1 victory at home against traditional rivals .

Spain
After being held by FC last weekend, returned to winning ways with a 2-1 defeat of Getafe. Bojan Krkić marked his 100th league game with his second goal in as many matches to help keep the Azulgrana five points clear of , winners of the Madrid derby by the same scoreline. Karim Benzema and Mesut Özil scored for José Mourinho’s side, with still abuzz at the possibility of a Champions League semi-final between the ‘Clásico’ rivals. Further back, slipped to a 1-0 loss at home against Sevilla that allowed to take over in third spot on goal difference.

Germany
Borussia Dortmund’s lead has been cut to seven points after Petar Slišković earned 1. FSV Mainz 05 a 1-1 draw with an 89th-minute leveller. That allowed Bayer Leverkusen to close the gap at the top and they duly profited, seeing off and their interim coach Seppo Eichkorn 2-0. Hannover held on to third spot and a Champions League qualifying berth by beating Hoffenheim 2-0, but are just two points back following their 2-1 success at Freiburg. “Once you know the Champions League, then you always want to play in the Champions League,” said Bayern forward Franck Ribéry. Elsewhere, Mladen Petrić scored a hat-trick as Hamburg beat Koln 6-2.

Elsewhere
Olympiacos won the Greek title on Sunday following a 6-0 rout of AEK Athens FC. Former AEK striker Raffik Djebbour scored twice as the victors claimed a 13th championship in 15 years after stretching their league lead to an unassailable ten points. In Glasgow, the Old Firm bragging rights went to Rangers, who won the Scottish League Cup for the 27th time at the expense of Celtic.

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