Manchester United opens 15-point lead in England
LONDON -- Manchester United opened a 15-point lead in the English Premier League with nine games remaining, beating Reading 1-0 Saturday on a Wayne Rooney goal as second-place Manchester City lost 2-0 at Everton.
Rooney scored in the 21st minute on a shot that deflected off Alex Pearce, Rooney's 12th league goal of the season and 16th overall. United (24-3-2) needs 13 points to clinch a record 20th English league title.
"We knew the three points was the most important thing today -- especially after City dropped three points," Rooney said.
The Toffees finished a man short after Steven Pienaar was ejected in the 61st for his second yellow card. Everton goalkeeper Jan Mucha, starting because American Tim Howard is injured, made a succession of saves on Carlos Tevez, James Milner and Pablo Zabaleta.
Aston Villa climbed six points above the relegation zone with a 3-2 win over visiting Queens Park Rangers, getting a tiebreaking goal from Christian Benteke in the 81st. Villa (7-14-9) is 17th, while Wigan (6-16-6) is 18th, one point ahead of Reading (5-17-8) and QPR (4-15-11).
Arsenal (14-7-8) pulled within two points of fourth-place Chelsea by winning 2-0 at Swansea on goals by Nacho Monreal and Gervinho. Southampton defeated visiting Liverpool 3-1.
Higuain scored twice and Karim Benzema added a late goal for second-place Real Madrid (19-5-4), which closed within 10 points of Barcelona (23-2-2). Ronaldo's goal was his 27th in the league this season and 43rd overall.
Barcelona hosts Rayo Vallecano on Sunday.
MILAN -- Juventus extended its lead to 12 points, staying on track for a 29th Serie A title with a 2-0 win at Bologna.
Juventus (20-4-5) has 65 points. Second-place Napoli (15-5-8) hosts Atalanta on Sunday while third-place AC Milan (15-7-6), which is another two points back, is home against Palermo.
BERLIN -- Bastian Schweinsteiger's free kick deflected off the back of Philipp Wollscheid's shoulder for an own goal in the 87th minute, giving first-place Bayern Munich a 2-1 win at Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga.
With eight games left, Bayern (22-1-3) maintained a 20-point lead over second-place Borussia Dortmund (14-5-7), which won 5-1 at Freiburg. Robert Lewandowski and Nuri Sahin scored two goals each, and Leonard Bittencourt got the final goal.
American midfielder Fabian Johnson missed his second straight game for Hoffenheim, a 0-0 tie against Mainz. The Bundesliga's website said last weekend that Johnson is bothered by a hip injury.
PARIS -- Second-place Lyon's hopes of catching French league leader Paris Saint-Germain took a blow when it lost 4-1 at Bastia.
Florian Thauvin put the hosts ahead in the 45th minute, but Lisandro Lopez tied the score in the 54th. Batia surged ahead on goals by Anthony Modeste in the 56th, Florian Thauvin in the 61st and Wahbi Khazri in the 87th.
PSG (17-5-6) can open a seven-point lead over Lyon (15-6-8) with a win Sunday at Saint-Etienne.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
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