Football

Madrid loses to slip in race; Atletico, Barca win

Atletico Madrid and Barcelona took advantage of a slip-up by Real Madrid to seize the initiative in the Spanish league title race while nervy Liverpool secured a seventh straight win to move into second place in the English Premier League.

Here is a roundup of the action in Europe on Wednesday:

SPAIN

Real Madrid lost 2-1 at Sevilla to slip behind in the race for the Spanish league title, as leader Atletico Madrid and Barcelona both won to move ahead of their rival in the standings.

Cristiano Ronaldo put Madrid in charge with his league-leading 27th goal of the season in the 14th minute, but Sevilla striker Carlos Bacca scored twice, in the 19th and 73rd, to complete the comeback.

Diego Costa's second-half header gave Atletico a 1-0 victory at home over Granada as it moved three points clear of Madrid with eight rounds remaining.

Lionel Messi and Neymar helped Barcelona stay one point behind Atletico as it rose into second place, but the 3-0 win over Celta Vigo came at the cost of goalkeeper Victor Valdes tearing a right knee ligament.

ENGLAND

Title-chasing Liverpool overcame an attack of nerves to squeeze to a 2-1 win over Sunderland and move to within a point of leader Chelsea in the Premier League.

Steven Gerrard's free kick and Daniel Sturridge's deflected shot put Liverpool two goals clear by the 48th minute, but the pressure of being a serious challenger for the title for the first time since 2009 showed in the final half-hour.

Ki Sung-yeung's 76th-minute header came amid a dominant spell for the relegation-threatened visitors but Liverpool hung on in the last minutes to seal a seventh straight league win.

Hope has turned into expectation at Anfield these past few weeks as Liverpool — the dominant side in England in the late 1970s and 1980s — has launched a title challenge against all odds.

The victory lifted Liverpool into second place with seven games left — two points above Manchester City, which has two games in hand over the sides above them.

ITALY

Carlos Tevez scored twice to move atop the Serie A scoring charts and help league leader Juventus beat 10-man Parma 2-1 for a record 15th home win.

Tevez has now scored 18 league goals in his first season at Juventus following his move from Manchester City.

Cristian Molinaro reduced the deficit but Parma striker Amauri was sent off three minutes later.

Juventus restored its 14-point advantage over Roma, which beat Torino 2-1 on Tuesday and has played a game less than its rivals.

Napoli moved six points behind Roma with a 4-2 win at Catania and boosted its chances of securing the final Champions League spot as Fiorentina lost 2-0 at home to AC Milan.

SCOTLAND

Celtic clinched its third straight Scottish league title in stylish and typically dominant fashion, beating Partick Thistle 5-1 to take an unassailable 26-point lead in the standings with seven matches still to play.

Anthony Stokes scored twice and Liam Henderson, Stefan Johansen and Kris Commons grabbed the other goals for Celtic, which secured the championship at the earliest date in the calendar since 1929.

Neil Lennon's side has lost just one league game all season on its way to sealing a 45th league title. Glasgow rival Rangers has won a record 54 championships.

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