Manchester City and United both won as the Premier League title battle became a certain two-horse race as Andre Villas-Boas was sacked by Chelsea and Inter Milan’s Claudio Ranieri was spared possibly the same fate by a comeback draw.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic hit a hat-trick for triumphant AC Milan and his former club Barcelona beat Sporting Gijon 3-1 despite going down to 10 men on 46 minutes.
Real Madrid stayed 10 points clear in La Liga with a 5-0 rout of Espanyol and Borussia Dortmund took total control in the Bundesliga.
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Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas was shown the door after a 1-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion added to a long list of disappointing results this season.
Premier League leaders Manchester City rolled on with a 2-0 home win over lowly Bolton Wanderers and Manchester United stayed two points behind after Ashley Young’s double sealed a 3-1 victory at Tottenham Hotspur.
Third-placed Spurs now trail City by 13 points with 11 games left.
Arsenal, in fourth, have a three-point cushion over Chelsea after more Robin van Persie magic secured a lucky 2-1 win at Liverpool.
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Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 30th league goal this season to help fire leaders Real Madrid to a 5-0 win over Espanyol that restored their 10-point lead over Barcelona on Sunday.
Ronaldo, Sami Khedira, Kaka and Gonzalo Higuain with a brace eased Real past a poor Espanyol at the Bernabeu and steered them closer to a first league title in four years with 13 matches left.
Champions Barcelona cut the gap to seven points with a nervy 3-1 home win over lowly Sporting Gijon on Saturday. Seydou Keita and Xavi scored late goals after Gerard Pique had been harshly sent off in the 46th minute.
Real have 67 points from 25 matches, Barca 57 and Valencia are third with 43 after a 1-0 win at Granada.
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Borussia Dortmund took a huge step towards retaining their Bundesliga title by beating Mainz 05 2-1 to open up a seven-point lead at the top with 10 matches to play.
Japanese midfielder Shinji Kagawa scored a 77th minute winner for Dortmund, three minutes after Mainz’s Mohamed Zidan had cancelled out Jakub Blaszczykowski’s first-half opener.
Dortmund moved onto 55 points from 24 games while second-placed Bayern Munich were stuck on 48 after losing 2-0 at Bayer Leverkusen, where Stefan Kiessling and Karim Bellarabi scored in the last quarter of an hour.
Dortmund’s cause was further helped when third-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach lost 1-0 at Nuremberg, ending a nine-match unbeaten run in all competitions, and fourth-placed Schalke 04 went down 2-1 at relegated-threatened Freiburg.
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Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrated his return from a three-match ban by scoring a 15-minute hat-trick which set leaders AC Milan on the way to a 4-0 win at Palermo.
Milan, who have 54 points from 26 games, went three clear of Juventus who blew an early lead and were held 1-1 at home by midtable Chievo. Paolo De Ceglie put Juve in front after 18 minutes only for Boukary Drame to level with 14 minutes left.
Third-placed Lazio beat AS Roma 2-1 in the derby after their opponents had goalkeeper Marten Stekelenburg sent off after only eight minutes. They have 48 points, two more than Udinese who lost ground with a goalless draw at home to Atalanta.
Inter coach Claudio Ranieri faced an eighth loss in nine games before a storming second-half comeback salvaged a 2-2 home draw with modest Catania who were 2-0 up at the break.
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Paris St Germain claimed a comprehensive 4-1 home win against AC Ajaccio to regain top spot in Ligue 1 after Montpellier could only manage a 1-1 draw at Dijon.
PSG, who prevailed with goals by Javier Pastore, Jeremy Menez, Guillaume Hoarau and Nene, lead Montpellier by one point.
Champions Lille were left eight points off the pace in third place after a 2-2 home draw against AJ Auxerre.
Olympique Marseille and Olympique Lyon lost ground in their quest for the Champions League playoff spot occupied by Lille after they lost 1-0 at home to Toulouse and 2-0 at Nancy respectively.
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Brazilian centre back Maicon headed a dramatic 87th-minute winner to give champions Porto a 3-2 victory at fierce rivals Benfica in their top-of-the-table clash.
Porto’s triumph in the ‘Classico’ means they lead the division with 52 points from 21 matches, three clear of second-placed Benfica.
Braga made the most of Benfica’s defeat and beat Nacional 3-1 away to go level with the Lisbon club on 49 points.
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Steve McClaren’s Twente Enschede scored four first-half goals to set up a 6-2 away thrashing of PSV Eindhoven and keep the Dutch title race wide open.
Twente moved into second spot with a game in hand on leaders AZ Alkmaar, who beat Heracles Almelo 3-1 to stay a point clear. PSV slipped to third on the same points as Twente.
Defending champions Ajax Amsterdam came from behind to beat Roda JC Kerkrade 4-1 with Lorenzo Ebicilio scoring a hat-trick to leave them three points behind Alkmaar.
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Olympiakos Pireaus players escaped unhurt after being pelted with flares by OFI Crete fans as they left the field following a 2-0 victory which sent them top of the Greek Super League.
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Celtic could only draw 1-1 at Aberdeen but lie 21 points ahead of Rangers, whose misery at going into administration and having 10 points deducted last month was compounded by a 2-1 home defeat by Hearts. (Editing by Mark Meadows)
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