By JOHN BOSCHINI
Italy's race for third place and the final spot in the Champions League has an unexpected contestant.
Inter Milan, largely counted out as little as a month ago, have surged with a six-game unbeaten streak since the appointment of new manager Andrea Stramaccioni to draw level on points with three other teams in the race for a spot in the Champions League. Napoli could have gone two points clear in third place but a late goal from Fabio Simplicio salvaged a 2-2 draw for AS Roma.
Udinese also dispatched former third-place occupant Lazio with a 2-0 win. Napoli holds a vastly superior goal differential advantage over the other three challengers and do not face a top-half side in the final three rounds.
Newcastle's march to an unlikely fourth-place finish in England came to a sudden stop over the weekend with a 4-0 dismantling by relegation-threatened Wigan. Victor Moses scored an early double as Wigan scored all four goals in the first half. Newcastle is now in fifth place as Tottenham move ahead of them with a superior goal difference.
Here is a look back to the rest of the action from around Europe.
There was no shortage of goals around the Premier League this weekend as five of the 18 teams in action scored four or more goals. Wolverhampton Wanderers might not have anything to play for, having already been relegated, but still put on a show in Wales, drawing Swansea City 4-4. Matthew Jarvis scored twice to bring Wolves back from 4-1 down after only half an hour.
Fernando Torres' Renaissance continued on Sunday as the striker netted his first hat trick for Chelsea. The Blues routed Queens Park Rangers 6-1 to pull within one point of Newcastle and Tottenham as the battle for fourth place reaches a fever pitch.
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE SCOREBOARD
Everton 4, Fulham 0
Stoke City 1, Arsenal 1
Sunderland 2, Bolton Wanderers 2
Swansea City 4, Wolverhampton Wanderers 4
West Bromwich Albion 0, Aston Villa 0
Wigan Athletic 4, Newcastle United 0
Norwich City 0, Liverpool 3
Chelsea 6, Queens Park Rangers 1
Tottenham Hotspur 2, Blackburn Rovers 0
Manchester City vs. Manchester United, 3 p.m.
Real Madrid moved one step closer to officially clinching the La Liga title with an easy 3-0 win over Sevilla. Karim Benzema scored a double while Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 57th goal in all competitions.
Not to be outdone, Lionel Messi's brace bookended Barcelona's 7-0 thumping of Rayo Vallecano. Messi scored his 43rd league goal as the Catalan club is determined to send Pep Guardiola out on a high note.
LA LIGA SCOREBOARD
Espanyol 0, Sporting Gijon 3
Getafe 1, Mallorca 3
Levante 3, Granada 1
Real Sociedad 3, Racing Santander 0
Villarreal 1, Osasuna 1
Real Madrid 3, Sevilla FC 0
Real Zaragoza 2, Athletic Bilbao 0
Malaga 1, Valencia 0
Real Betis 2, Atletico Madrid 2
Rayo Vallecano 0, Barcelona 7
There is officially no more drama at the top of the table as Borussia Monchengladbach wrapped up the final Champions League spot. Bayern Munich's 2-0 victory over VfB Stuttgart was enough to see them eliminated from contention for fourth place while Monchengladbach's 0-0 draw with Augsburg extended their cushion to seven points.
The only race left to be decided is who will play in the relegation playoff and who will be relegated automatically. Hertha Berlin need a win against Hoffenheim and need Cologne to lose to Bayern Munich for the two sides to switch places near the bottom of the table.
Bayer Leverkusen 1, Hannover 96 0
Bayern Munich 2, VfB Stuttgart 0
Borussia Monchengladbach 0, FC Augsburg 0
Hamburg SV 0, Mainz 0
Kaiserslautern 2, Borussia Dortmund 5
SC Freiburg 4, FC Cologne 1
Schalke 04 4, Hertha Berlin 0
TSG Hoffenheim 2, Nurnberg 3
VfL Wolfsburg 3, Werder Bremen 1
For all the turmoil surrounding third place in Italy, the top two positions stayed relatively static as both Juventus and AC Milan scored four goals in easy victories. Mirko Vucinic scored twice as Juventus saw off Novara with a 4-0 victory away from home. Not to be outdone, AC Milan secured a 4-1 victory over Siena featuring a brace from Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Juventus maintained their three-point lead over Milan with three games to play and extended their goal differential advantage to three goals.
SERIE A SCOREBOARD
Cagliari 0, Chievo Verona 0
Palermo 1, Catania 1
AS Roma 2, Napoli 2
Bologna 3, Genoa 2
Atalanta 2, Fiorentina 0
Inter Milan 2, Cesena 1
Lecce 1, Parma 2
Novara 0, Juventus 4
Siena 1, AC Milan 4
Udinese 2, Lazio 0
The title is all but Montpellier's as Paris Saint-Germain fall five points behind with four games to play. The league leaders scored in just the third minute and held out for a 1-0 win over Toulouse. PSG, on the other hand, conceded two goals in the space of eight minutes to lose 2-1 on the road to Lille. The home side all but wrapped up third place as their cushion over Stade Rennes is now eight points.
Lyon ended Quevilly's Cinderella hopes with a 1-0 win in the French Cup Final. Lisandro Lopez got the only goal for Lyon.
LIGUE 1 SCOREBOARD
Toulouse 0, Montpellier 1
Lorient 2, Marseille 1
AJ Auxerre 4, Brest 0
AS Nancy Lorraine 1, Caen 1
Sochaux 0, Bordeaux 3
St Etienne 1, Dijon FCO 0
Stade Rennes 3, AC Ajaccio 1
Valenciennes 2, Nice 0
Lille 2, Paris Saint-Germain 1
Final: Lyon 1, Quevilly 0
Ajax will be the champions of Holland after a 2-1 victory over FC Twente takes them six points clear with two games to play. In order for second-place Feyenoord Rotterdam to overtake Ajax, they would need to overturn a 24-goal-differential disadvantage in just two games.
Feyenoord, who moved into sole possession of second place with a 2-1 win over AZ Alkmaar, will instead be focused on holding on to the final Champions League spot. PSV Eindhoven lurks one point behind in third place after a 3-1 victory over Roda JC Kerkrade,
FC Groningen 1, De Graafschap 1
SC Heracles Almelo 2, Heerenveen 4
FC Utrecht 1, NAC Breda 3
Vitesse Arnhem 3, Excelsior 2
VVV Venlo 2, ADO Den Haag 1
Roda JC Kerkrade 1, PSV Eindhoven 3
Feyenoord Rotterdam 1, AZ Alkmaar 0
FC Twente 1, Ajax 2
NEC Nijmegen 1, RKC Waalwijk 1
What do you think of the weekend's results? Can Inter Milan pull off the improbable and qualify for the Champions League? Will Montpellier cruise to the Ligue 1 title? Can Juventus hold off AC Milan with only three games to play?
Share your thoughts below.
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