The Temperature is truly reaching boiling point as confirmation of both winners and losers on the continent is steadily becoming apparent. Title chasing sides slip up , teams avoid relegation, others are not as lucky , and one team takes a steady advantage into the second league of a major cup final, all in a good weekend`s work.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic put a seal on Barcelona`s victory over rock bottom Xerez at the Nou Camp. The Swedish striker scored the third goal in a 3-1 win as Barca remain top, but manager Pep Guardiola felt his team already had their minds on the Champions League semi final second leg against Ibrahimovic`s former team, Inter Milan. Speaking of Wednesdays tie, Guardiola was as hungry as ever “ we have come from winning six titles and there is a sensation that if we don’t win both La Liga and the Champions League , that we have achieved nothing”.
Celtic secured a massive 2-0 away win at third placed Dundee United to secure Champions League football for next season. Thomas Rogne deputised at centre back, his first start since a hamstring injury in February and the Norwegian matched United`s attackers with some well timed tackles. While Celtic, who were without the suspended Morten Rasmussen, will be delighted at earning a Champions League berth for next year they will also feel terrible anguish on a day that Rangers won their second successive SPL title, something we knew was coming for a long time.
Erik Nevland opened the scoring as Europa League semi finalists Fulham visited Everton. But an own goal from Chris Smalling and a last minute penalty from Mikel Arteta ensured Everton recorded a 2-1 win over Roy Hodgson`s men.
John Arne Riise`s Roma side slipped off top spot in Serie A this weekend as they were undone by 4th placed Sampdoria. Giampaolo Pazzini`s brace severely dented the Norwegian and his team mates title credentials, as they now trail Inter Milan by two points with three games remaining.
Christian Eriksen and Dennis Rommedahl both made cameo substitution appearances as Ajax beat Feyenoord 2-0 in the first leg of the Dutch Cup Final. A quick brace from Siem De Jong, with goals in the 6 and 7th minute, ensure Martin Jol`s men will take a comfortable advantage to Rotterdam.
Danish midfielder Martin Bergvold struck home the third goal as Livorno beat Catania 3-1 at home.
It was an awful weekend for Danish goalkeepers in the Premiership. Brian Jensen`s Burnley were condemned to relegation after a 4-0 reverse against Liverpool .
Thomas Sorensen suffered a dislocation of his elbow as Stoke lost 7-0 at Chelsea. The Dane was replaced by Asmir Begovic while the match was 2-0. The thrashing compounded his misery and he may know miss the World Cup. Stoke manager Tony Pulis hopes his33year old keeper doesn’t require surgery “He`s dislocated his elbow. We`re hoping they can pop it back in and he doesn’t need an operation. If he needs an operation he will struggle for the World Cup”.
Kasper Schmeichel`s Notts County side remain top of League 2 despite a 2-1 defeat away to Port Vale. The defeat is manager Steve Cotterill`s first in charge since taken over 15 games ago yet the Magpies remain top as second placed Rochdale also suffered a 2-1 reverse, at the hands of Hereford.
Jussi Jaaskelainen saw Portsmouth comeback from the dead as they grinded out a 2-2 draw with his Bolton side. The Finn`s side were two goals to the good at half time.
Aron Gunnarsson earned Coventry City a 1-1 draw away to Middlesbrough, who are set for a second season in the Championship. The Icelandic international poked the ball home from close range after Stephen Wright`s original effort was thwarted by Boro keeper Brad Jones.
Heidar Helguson scored either side of Danny Graham`s brace as relegation threatened Watford crushed a recently resurgent Reading side 3-0 at Vicarage Road. The result ensures the Hornets safety heading into the last game of the season. The strike was Helguson`s eleventh of the season.