Man City leave it late to beat Everton and reach Cup semis
Manchester City's quadruple bid remained intact as late goals by Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin de Bruyne secured a 2-0 win at Everton in their FA Cup quarter-final clash on Saturday.
Everton erected a blue wall for most of the game and managed to frustrate Pep Guardiola's side until Gundogan stooped to head home in the 84th minute for his 16th goal of the season.
Late substitute De Bruyne then made City's passage safe with a clinical finish in the 90th minute.
City dominated possession but Everton defended deep and their third-choice keeper Joao Virginia made some fine saves.
The visitors' patience was rewarded though as they joined Southampton in the semi-finals after the south-coast side earlier beat local rivals Bournemouth 3-0 away.
Manchester United visit Leicester City on Sunday with Chelsea hosting Sheffield United.
Guardiola refuses to talk about City claiming an unprecedented clean sweep of trophies this season but it is hard to ignore the fact that his side look unstoppable.
They are running away with the Premier League title, face Tottenham Hotspur in the League Cup final next month and are up against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last eight.
Everton did their best to halt the City bandwagon with a disciplined defensive display that drew praise from Guardiola.
"It was a really tough game. We saw the commitment from Everton, how focused they were, they defended really aggressively," Guardiola said.
"It was one of the toughest games we've played in the last four months."
City enjoyed 85% possession in the opening 25 minutes, passing the ball around in silky fashion without forcing Virginia into any meaningful action.
Everton looked to play on the counter-attack and went close to snatching the lead just before the interval when Yerry Mina's glancing header was cleared by Oleksander Zinchenko.
City kept probing after the break and Virginia made a great save to deny Raheem Sterling's shot from a cross by Fernandinho.
Phil Foden went close with a swerving shot soon after before City finally found a chink in Everton's armour.
It was tough on Virginia who made a sensational save to tip Aymeric Laporte's effort against the crossbar but Gundogan was alive to the opportunity and dived to head in the rebound.
De Bruyne, who had replaced Sterling after 80 minutes, then wrapped it up in style after being played through by Rodri.
Guardiola's only current concern is hoping that all of his players return from international duty ready to continue City's charge.
"Hopefully the (COVID-19) bubbles are controlled. I'm looking forward to everyone coming back safe," he said.
For Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti he accepted that his side had been beaten by "the best team in the world".
"It was a good experience for us and there are no regrets," the Italian said. "We have 10 games in the league and we want to fight for our position in Europe next season."
Lewandowski hat-trick helps Bayern rout Stuttgart, Dortmund held
Robert Lewandowski's hat-trick helped 10-man Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich stay in the driving seat to retain the title with a 4-0 drubbing of Vfb Stuttgart, while Borussia Dortmund lost ground in the top-four race with a draw at Cologne on Saturday.
An early red card for left back Alphonso Davies spurred on Bayern as they scored four times in a 22-minute first-half spell despite being a man light, with Robert Lewandowski grabbing a hat-trick and Serge Gnabry netting the other goal.
Lewandowski's treble made the Poland striker the joint second all-time top scorer in Bundesliga history on 268 goals alongside Klaus Fischer and now only behind Bayern's iconic former striker Gerd Mueller who scored 365 times.
It also means the Pole has now scored 35 goals in 25 league games this term and is five from equalling Mueller's record for the most goals scored in a single Bundesliga season in Germany.
"Just doing my job," Lewandowski posted on twitter after another devastating performance took his season's tally to 42 goals in 36 games in all competitions.
Midfielder Thomas Mueller added: "Now everyone knows, three goals, he is unstoppable."
Lewandowski fired Bayern ahead in the 18th minute and Serge Gnabry rounded off a sweeping move to make it 2-0 before the Poland striker finished off Stuttgart with a header and a left-foot shot, thriving from good work by Mueller and Leroy Sane.
The result left Bayern on 61 points from 26 games, four ahead of closest rivals RB Leipzig ahead of a blockbuster clash at the Red Bull Arena on April 3 after the international break.
Dortmund salvaged a point at Cologne thanks to their Norway striker Erling Haaland's last-gasp equaliser but will see a share of the spoils as a bittersweet outcome having fallen behind in the race for a Champions League qualifying spot.
Dortmund stayed fifth on 43 points, four behind Eintracht Frankfurt who gained ground with a 5-2 home rout of Union Berlin after Andre Silva scored twice while Filip Kostic and Timothy Chandler added one each to complement a Robert Andrich own goal.
Haaland fired Dortmund into a third-minute lead with a superb solo effort but Cologne turned the match on its head after Ondrej Duda converted a penalty and Ismail Jacobs hit the roof of the net with a fierce shot from 15 metres.
Haaland showed his predatory skills again in the 90th minute to bundle in a low cross from the right but Dortmund were unable to force a final twist as the hosts held on in stoppage time.
Third-placed Vfl Wolfsburg, who are 10 points behind Bayern and four ahead of Frankfurt, stayed firmly on course to secure a Champions League berth with a 2-1 win at Werder Bremen.
Wout Weghorst struck in the 42nd minute after a Joshua Sargent own goal to give Wolfsburg a 2-0 lead before Kevin Moehwald pulled one back on the stroke of halftime.
Schalke suffered yet another setback to their slim hopes of avoiding relegation as a 3-0 home defeat by Borussia Moenchengladbach left them rooted to the bottom 12 points adrift of the safety zone.
Lars Stindl fired the visitors ahead in the 15th minute when he swept a loose ball into the top corner before second-half headers from Stefan Lainer and an own goal by Schalke goalkeeper Frederik Roennow sealed ninth-placed Gladbach's win.
Hertha Berlin, who occupy the relegation playoff spot, host Bayer Leverkusen, who are sixth, in Sunday's standout fixture. Hoffenheim in 11th also host second-bottom Mainz, while Freiburg entertain Augsburg in a mid-table clash.
Kroos-Benzema connection helps Real beat Celta
Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema twice combined with Toni Kroos to continue his insatiable scoring run as the visitors earned a 3-1 win over Celta Vigo on Saturday to move within three points of La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid.
Benzema curled a shot into the bottom corner to give Real the lead in the 20th minute after being released by a fine piece of play from Kroos, who danced past a defender before taking out three more with a pass into the feet of his team mate.
Germany midfielder Kroos was also involved in the second goal on the half-hour mark, winning the ball back on the edge of the box and allowing Benzema to dribble across the box and score his eighth goal in six matches in all competitions.
Santi Mina headed Celta back into the game in the 40th minute following a free kick and the hosts improved after the break while Real ran out of steam.
It took a strong save from visiting goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois to prevent Iago Aspas levelling in the second period. Aspas later saw a free kick deflected off the post.
But Real found a third goal deep in stoppage time when Frenchman Benzema crowned his exceptional display by sending in a cross to Marco Asensio, who walked the ball over the line to score his second goal in two games after netting in Wednesday's 3-1 win over Atalanta in the Champions League.
Real moved above Barcelona into second place on 60 points from 28 games behind Atletico, who host Alaves on Sunday before the Catalans, who have 59 points, visit Real Sociedad.
Celta are 11th on 34 points.
"We've been earning lots of wins lately and snatching draws from losing positions and we're heading into the final stretch of the season full of confidence," said Real defender Nacho Fernandez.
Benzema had scored three crucial late goals in his previous two league outings for Real, rescuing a 1-1 draw at Atletico two weeks ago and leading a 2-1 comeback home victory over Elche last Saturday.
Zinedine Zidane said after the Elche win that his side had to score earlier in games to avoid more heart-stopping finishes and they took his advice on board, going ahead midway through the first half and consolidating their lead 10 minutes later.
"It's never easy to play here so we're very happy with the victory," added Nacho. "Even though we conceded a goal from a set piece due to poor marking, I think overall we played well and were solid at the back."