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AC Milan clinch 18th Serie A title

Berlusconi’s club rumbles to its first Italian championship since 2004


ROME (AP) ― AC Milan ended five years of dominance by city rival Inter Milan, clinching its first Serie A title since 2004 with a 0-0 draw at Roma on Saturday night.

Owned by Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, AC Milan ended a streak of five straight league titles by Inter, tied Inter with 18 overall titles and closed within nine of Juventus.

After the final whistle, Milan began a champagne celebration on the field and threw first-year manager Massimiliano Allegri up into the air.

“Winning after seven years is a huge emotion,” midfielder Gennaro Gattuso said.

AC Milan (23-4-8) has 78 points with two games remaining and cannot be overtaken by second-place Inter (21-8-6), which is nine points back and hosts Fiorentina on Sunday. AC Milan holds the tiebreaker over Inter because it swept both league matches between the rivals.

Stadio Olimpico was filled with about 80,000 fans, including 10,000 for Milan who celebrated by lighting smoke in the colors of Italy’s flag,

“This is a great moment, coming after seven years,” Milan midfielder Clarence Seedorf said. “This group will grow a lot after this victory. Now we want to bring the Italian Cup home, too.”

The closest either side came to scoring was a shot by Milan striker Robinho that bounced off the post a minute into the second half.

Spain

Cristiano Ronaldo matched his career high with four goals, overtaking Lionel Messi for the Spanish league scoring lead and lifting Real Madrid to a 6-2 victory at Sevilla.

Ronaldo scored in the 31st, 65th, 70th and 75th minutes, and Real Madrid also got goals from Sergio Ramos and Kaka. Alvaro Negredo scored twice for the host.

It was the sixth hat trick of the season for Ronaldo, who scored four goals against Racing Santander on Oct. 23 and also had three-goal games this season against Athletic Bilbao, Levante, Villarreal and Malaga. His 33 league goals are two ahead of Barcelona’s Messi, who has four games remaining, and Ronaldo has 46 overall, topping his previous career best of 42 for Manchester United in 2007-08.

Second-place Real Madrid pulled within five points of Barcelona, which hosts crosstown rival Espanyol on Sunday.

Also, Giovani dos Santos scored twice and Henrique once to give Racing Santander a 3-2 win against Hercules as Santander mourned the death of golfer Seve Ballesteros.

England

Manchester City remains on course to qualify for the Champions League for the first time despite losing 2-1 at Everton after Tottenham was held to a 1-1 draw by Blackpool.

Yaya Toure put Man City in position to strengthen its grip on fourth place in the Premier League, but Sylvain Distin and Leon Osman scored in the second half for Everton.

Softening the impact of that loss was Tottenham’s draw with Blackpool, leaving the fifth-place Spurs six points behind City. Tottenham and City meet Tuesday in one of three remaining matches, and a victory for City would ensure the team qualifies for Europe’s top competition.

City remains five points behind Arsenal after collapsing at Goodison Park, with Everton winning for the seventh time in eight meetings between the clubs.

“The team Man City had could probably play in the NBA,” Everton manager David Moyes said. “It was like the New York Knicks, with the size of them. It was really difficult to match them. It was a case of everybody manning the pumps to get us through the last five or six minutes.”

At White Hart Lane, Michael Dawson conceded a penalty by handling a cross while jumping for a header, and Tottenham goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes’ diving save denied Charlie Adam from the spot. But from the resulting corner, Gomes ran over Gary Taylor-Fletcher in the penalty area ― and this time Adam blasted the spot kick into the net.

Jermain Defoe salvaged a point for Spurs with a late score.

At Upton Park, Thomas Hitzlsperger salvaged a 1-1 draw for West Ham against Blackburn in their battle to avoid relegation, but the London club remains at the bottom of the standings a point behind Wolverhampton and three below Wigan.

Wigan was held to a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa, while Birmingham lost 2-1 at Newcastle.

Germany

Bayern Munich ensured St. Pauli was relegated from the Bundesliga with an 8-1 thrashing to clinch a Champions League playoff spot on Saturday.

Borussia Moenchengladbach boosted its chances of survival with one round to go, beating Freiburg 2-0 to climb above Eintracht Frankfurt, which lost 2-0 at home to Cologne.

Moenchengladbach is tied on points with Wolfsburg ― a 2-1 loser at home to Kaiserslautern ― but occupies the league playoff spot because of a worse goal difference.

Werder Bremen is safe after a 2-0 home win over champion Borussia Dortmund, as is Stuttgart after beating Hannover 2-1.

Scotland

Rangers marked its first match under new ownership with a 4-0 rout of Hearts on Saturday that moved the club closer to completing a hat trick of Scottish Premier League titles.

With two games remaining, Rangers has a four-point lead over Celtic, although its Glasgow rival plays Kilmarnock on Sunday.

The victory was secured by goals from Nikica Jelavic, Kyle Lafferty and Steven Davis, along with an own goal from Ryan Stevenson.

Hearts had to play with 10 men for the last 30 minutes after Eggert Jonsson was sent off for a foul on Jelavic.

France

Lille defeated Nancy 1-0 behind Eden Hazard’s free kick in the 45th minute to extend its lead to four points atop the French league and put pressure on Marseille.

The defending champions, who have five games remaining, visit Lyon on Sunday.

Paris Saint-Germain drew 1-1 with Monaco and moved into third place, one point ahead of Lyon.

Brazilian defender Adriano nodded in a free kick by Lukman Haruna in the 25th to give Monaco the lead. But PSG forward Mevlut Erding volleyed home in the 51st to equalize.
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