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Chelsea, Juventus and Bayern falter as Liverpool go top


LONDON: The leaders in England, Italy, and Germany all dropped points as Chelsea suffered a shock 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace, Juventus lost 2-0 to Napoli and Bayern Munich drew 3-3 with Hoffenheim. Chelsea were overtaken by Liverpool, who thrashed Tottenham Hotspur 4-0, while Juve’s lead at the top of Serie A was cut to 11 points and German champions Bayern’s 19-game winning streak was ended by Hoffenheim. Atletico Madrid, 2-1 winners at Athletic Bilbao, stayed on course for a surprise La Liga title triumph as Spain’s top three all won and Paris St Germain increased their advantage in Ligue 1 to 13 points with a 1-0 win at Nice.
England: Liverpool moved top of the Premier League table for the first time since Christmas with a 4-0 drubbing of Tottenham as their main title challengers all dropped points. Chelsea suffered a shock 1-0 defeat at lowly Crystal Palace while Arsenal drew 1-1 with Manchester City, leaving Liverpool two points clear at the summit with six games left. Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea are second with City in third, four points behind Liverpool but with two games in hand. Arsenal are fourth, three points adrift of City and four ahead of Everton who won 3-1 at Fulham to keep their top-four aspirations alive. Liverpool, seeking their first English title since 1990, overpowered Spurs thanks to an own goal by Younes Kaboul and strikes by Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson.
Spain: Atletico Madrid moved a step closer to an unlikely title triumph when they battled back from a goal down to secure a 2-1 victory at fourth-placed Athletic Bilbao as the top three all won on Saturday. Atletico’s hard-fought victory at the San Mames, through goals from Diego Costa and Koke, maintained their one-point lead over champions Barcelona, who won 1-0 at Espanyol thanks to a Lionel Messi penalty. Atletico have 76 points with seven games left with Barca, who host the Madrid club in the Champions League quarterfinal first leg on Tuesday, on 75. Third-placed Real Madrid, who have 73 points, avoided a third successive defeat when La Liga top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo netted his 28th goal of the campaign and Gareth Bale struck twice in a 5-0 stroll at home to city neighbours Rayo Vallecano.
Germany: Champions Bayern Munich’s 19-game Bundesliga winning streak ended with a 3-3 home draw with Hoffenheim. Peru striker Claudio Pizarro, given a rare start, responded by scoring twice and Xherdan Shaqiri was also on target as Bayern led 3-1 at halftime after Anthony Modeste had put Hoffenheim ahead. The visitors hit back, however, with second-half goals from Sejad Salihovic and Roberto Firmino. Marco Reus scored a hat-trick to give second-placed Borussia Dortmund a 3-2 win at VfB Stuttgart after they had trailed 2-0. The defeat left Stuttgart in 16th place, the relegation playoff spot, ahead of Hamburg SV on goal difference. Hamburg, the Bundesliga’s only ever-present club, were beaten 3-1 at Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Italy: Juventus’s Serie A lead was cut to 11 points after they suffered a 2-0 defeat at Napoli where Jose Callejon and substitute Dries Mertens scored the goals. Earlier, second-placed AS Roma did their part by winning by the same score at lowly Sassuolo with goals from Mattia Destro and Michel Bastos. Juventus, still firmly on course for a third successive title, have 81 points from 31 games and Roma are on 70 with a game in hand. Third-placed Napoli, on 64, are in the Champions League playoff spot.
France: Paris St Germain geared up for their Champions League clash against Chelsea with an industrious 1-0 win at Nice that sent them 13 points clear at the top of Ligue 1. Their nearest rivals Monaco had their slim title hopes all but extinguished by lowly Evian Thonon Gaillard after a surprise 1-0 away defeat. Lille, six points further adrift in third, won 1-0 at home to En Avant Guingamp.
Portugal: Benfica stayed on course for their first league title since 2010 with a 1-0 win at Sporting Braga. Brazilian Lima scored the only goal in the 13th minute as the Eagles chalked up an eighth successive league win despite a late penalty miss from forward Rodrigo. Benfica, who have 64 points, are seven clear of sporting who beat Vitoria Guimaraes 1-0 with a Marcos Rojo goal early in the second half.
Greece: PAOK Salonica came from behind to beat Kalloni 2-1 on Sunday thanks to a late goal from 18-year-old Efthimis Koulouris which keeps them in the driving seat for Greece’s second Champions League place ahead of the Super League playoffs. The win moved second-placed PAOK to 66 points with two matches to play before the playoffs begin, while Atromitos and Panathinaikos lie in third and fourth place respectively on 63 points after they shared the spoils in a 0-0 draw on Saturday. Champions Olympiakos Piraeus, who have already wrapped up a 41st league title, returned to winning ways after a 2-1 midweek defeat by Asteras Tripolis with a 1-0 home success against bottom club Aris Salonica. 

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Aaj Kal