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Clawing back into the title race

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Published : 2012-04-12 19:25
Updated : 2012-04-12 19:25

LONDON (AP) ― Manchester United stumbled on its path to the Premier League title, losing 1-0 at Wigan on Wednesday night and allowing Manchester City to close within five points with a 4-0 win over West Bromwich Albion.

Shaun Maloney scored on a curling shot in the 50th minute, sending the defending champions to their first league loss since Jan. 4.

“We were poor. We only had one shot on target and we were second to every ball,” United manager Alex Ferguson said. “You wish the lead was better, but considering where we were a few months ago, you have to take it.”

City got goals from Sergio Aguero in the sixth and 54th minutes. Carlos Tevez, in his first start since Sept. 21, made it 3-0 in the 61st and David Silva added a goal in the 64th.

Manchester United (25-4-4), seeking a record 20th English league title, has 79 points with five games remaining to 74 for Manchester City (23-5-5), which hasn’t won the league since 1968. The rivals play at Manchester City on April 30.

City led by five points from mid-October to mid-December but dropped eight points back last weekend.

“The title race is finished because United is a fantastic team and they have a fantastic spirit. I think five points is too much,” City manager Roberto Mancini said.

Wigan (7-16-10) moved out of the relegation zone into 17th place with 31 points, two ahead of Bolton (9-21-2).

Queens Park Rangers (8-18-7) rose to 16th with 31 points, winning 3-0 at home against Swansea on goals by Joey Barton in the 45th, Jamie Mackie in the 55th and Akos Buzsaky in the 67th.

Arsenal (20-9-4) won 3-0 at last-place Wolverhampton (5-21-7). Robert Van Persie converted a ninth-minute penalty kick for his league-leading 27th goal. and the Gunners also got goals by Theo Walcott in the 11th and Yossi Benayoun in the 69th as they moved four points ahead of fourth-place Tottenham.

Blackburn (7-19-7) is 19th with 28 points, six ahead of Wolves.

Spain

Cristiano Ronaldo matched his own Spanish league record of 40 goals in a season, scoring a hat trick that included two spectacular long-range strikes as Real Madrid beat Atletico Madrid 4-1 to restore its four-point lead over second-place Barcelona.

Ronaldo opened the scoring in the 25th by bending a stunning 40-yard free kick past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

Radamel Falcao tied it in the 55th, but Ronaldo scored on a dipping shot in the 68th and converted a penalty kick in the 83rd for his 52nd goal of the season, one shy of his career high set last season. Ronaldo’s hat trick was his seventh of the season and 15th for Real Madrid and 16th overall. In the league scoring race, he is one goal ahead of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.

Germany

Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben failed to convert a penalty kick in the 86th minute, and Borussia Dortmund opened a six-point Bundesliga lead with a 1-0 victory.

Robert Lewandowski scored his 20th league goal of the season in the 77th minute.

Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller brought down Robben the penalty area in the 85th, but guessed the right way to deny the Dutchman a minute later.

Italy

Juventus regained first place in the Serie A, beating visiting third-place Lazio 2-1 as Alessandro Del Piero scored in the 82nd minute, nine minutes after entering the match.

Simone Pepe had given Juve the lead in the 30th, but Stefano Mauri’s header tied the score in the 45th.

France

Younes Belhanda scored twice, including a goal on a spectacular scissors kick, and Olivier Giroud got his 19th league goal of the season. giving Montpellier a 3-1 win at Marseille that opened a three-point over second-place Paris Saint-Germain in the French league.

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