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Rediff.com  » Sports » Footballers of the weekend: Gerrard, Garcia sizzle in Europe

Footballers of the weekend: Gerrard, Garcia sizzle in Europe

April 07, 2014 13:56 IST

Footballers of the weekend: Gerrard, Garcia sizzle in Europe

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Premier League leaders Liverpool and La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid both won to continue their surprise bids for their respective titles.

Steven Gerrard scored two penalties as Liverpool went back to the top of the Premier League with a 2-1 win at West Ham United to complete a Merseyside win-double over London clubs on Sunday.

Whereas in Bundesliga Sascha Moelders brought an end of the unbeaten run of Bayern Munich. The champions suffered their first league defeat in 18 months at Augsburg, ending their record 53-game unbeaten run.

With Mattia Destro hat-trick Roma kept up the pressure on Serie A leaders Juventus and Paris St Germain stayed 13 points clear in France.

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Image: Steven Gerrard of Liverpool runs with the ball
Photographs: Julian Finney/Getty Images

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Gerrard puts Liverpool on top

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Steven Gerrard is in a league of extraordinary footballers. And he showed his class on Sunday.

Liverpool returned to top of the Premier League after beating West Ham United 2-1 in a physical battle decided by two Steven Gerrard penalties, after rivals Chelsea and ManchesterCity both won easily on Saturday.

Liverpool took the lead from the spot before a battling West Ham netted a controversial equaliser when former Reds striker Andy Carroll appeared to foul visiting keeper Simon Mignolet, allowing Guy Demel to prod home.

Liverpool, however, struck back after being awarded a dubious second penalty for a foul by home keeper Adrian on Jon Flanagan and Gerrard fired in from the spot for the second time.

Liverpool now have 74 points from 33 games, two clear of second placed Chelsea, who beat Stoke City 3-0 with goals from Mohamed Salah, Frank Lampard and Willian.

Manchester City are third, four points behind Liverpool, but with two games in hand, after beating Southampton 4-1 with goals from Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri, Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic.

Fifth-placed Everton secured a fillip in the race for the top four by beating Arsenal 3-0 at home to move within a point of their rivals for the final Champions League qualifying spot.

At the other end of the table, second-bottom CardiffCity's relegation plight deepened with a 3-0 home defeat to fellow strugglers CrystalPalace, while Fulham gave themselves hope of avoiding the drop with a 2-1 win at Aston Villa.

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Image: Steven Gerrard,centre, of Liverpool celebrates with teammate Raheem Sterling,left, after scoring the opening goal from the penalty spot
Photographs: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

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Atletico continue surprise title bid

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Atletico Madrid remained on course for a surprise Spanish title triumph when Raul Garcia's header secured a 1-0 victory for the leaders at home to Villarreal on Saturday as closest rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid also won.

Garcia nodded in a Koke corner in the 14th minute at a packed Calderon and the home side comfortably soaked up sustained Villarreal pressure in the second half to move on to 79 points from 32 of 38 matches, three more than their tally from last season when they finished third.

Lionel Messi struck twice for Barca in a laboured 3-1 home success against bottom side Real Betis as the champions stayed hard on Atletico's heels, a point adrift with six matches left including a clash between the sides at the Nou Camp on the final day of the season.

Third-placed Real are still in the hunt, two points behind Barca, after Gareth Bale smashed in a brilliant long-range effort and Asier Illarramendi scored against his former club in a 4-0 romp at sixth-placed Real Sociedad.

Atletico have 79 points from 32 matches, three more than their tally from last season when they finished third. Barca are second on 78 and Real have 76.

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Image: Raul Garcia of Atletico de Madrid celebrates scoring their opening goal
Photographs: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

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Sascha Moelders ends Bayern Munich unbeaten run

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Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich suffered their first league defeat in 18 months when they lost 1-0 at Augsburg on Saturday as Sascha Moelders' first-half strike ended their record 53-game unbeaten run.

The Bavarians, who clinched this season's title in record time with seven games left and take on Manchester United in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final next week, had not lost in the Bundesliga since a 2-1 defeat by Bayer Leverkusen in October 2012.

Second-placed Borussia Dortmund, who take on Real Madrid in their Champions League quarter-final return leg, went three points clear of Schalke 04 with a 2-1 win against VfL Wolfsburg.

Striker Robert Lewandowski, who had missed the first leg of their European clash through suspension, was on target for Dortmund along with Marco Reus.

Schalke 04 have 55 points, seven more than fourth-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach, after snatching a 1-1 draw at Werder Bremen.

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Image: Augsburg's Sascha Moelders celebrates after he scored against Bayern Munich
Photographs: Michael Dalder/Reuters

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Cavani on target for PSG

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Paris St Germain stayed 13 points clear at the top of Ligue 1 with a 3-0 over Stade Reims as second place Monaco maintained their slim title chances with a 3-1 win against Nantes.

An Edinson Cavani strike and two Aissa Mandi own goals gave Paris St Germain, who were without injured talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, their 11th win in a row in all competitions, while they have not conceded a goal in the league this year.

A James Rodriguez double helped Monaco cling on to PSG's coattails with a 3-1 win over Nantes.

The Colombia playmaker drilled home left-footed to put the hosts and then turned provider when his corner was headed in by Andrea Raggi to double the lead.

Rodriguez, who joined Monaco from Porto for a transfer fee of 45 million euros in the close season, fired in a penalty after 76 minutes for his ninth goal of the season, before Nantes grabbed a consolation through Alejandro Bedoya.

The win moved Monaco to 66 points, six clear of third-place Lille, who beat Toulouse 2-1.

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Image: Edison Roberto Cavani of Paris Saint-Germain FC
Photographs: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

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Mattia Destro 'tricks for Roma

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AS Roma kept up the pressure on Serie A leaders Juventus by beating Cagliari 3-1 away with a Mattia Destro hat-trick. The win took Roma within five points on Juventus who are at home to Livorno on Monday.

Third-placed Napoli lost 1-0 to a Marco Parolo goal at Parma who pulled level in fifth place with troubled Inter Milan.

Inter, in danger of missing out on European football for a second successive season, were held 2-2 at home by lowly Bologna after striker Diego Milito missed a late penalty.

Juventus, still favourites for a third successive title, have 81 points, with Roma on 76 and Napoli 64. Fiorentina, 2-1 winners over Udinese, are fourth with 55.


Image: Mattia Destro,centre, of Roma celebrates after scoring their third goal and completing a hat-trick
Photographs: Enrico Locci/Getty Images

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