Monday 18 December 2017 / 04:11 PM

Around The Leagues

A late goal from Cesc Fabregas earned champions elect Barcelona a nervy 1-0 win against Levante at Camp Nou on Saturday to keep the Catalan giants 13 points clear of rivals Real Madrid at the top of La Liga.

Tito Villanova’s side were off colour to say the least for the majority of the game with their usual free scoring, clinical play failing to materialise aside from a handful of worthy efforts which were saved by visiting goalkeeper Navas who was deputising for regular starter Gustava Munua in between the posts.

And it was only six minutes from time when Barca’s 70,000 strong support could finally celebrate after Fabregas latched onto a tremendous pass from winger Alexis Sanchez before firing home a precise shot into the bottom left hand corner of the net.

The victory, which was enhanced by Eric Abidal’s return to the first eleven, means that Barcelona now need just two wins from the final six fixtures of the campaign to lift the title – however they will surely be aiming to take a clean 18 point sweep in order to break the 100 point barrier and complete their domestic success in remarkable style.

Madrid still look booked for second spot after beating Real Betis 3-1 at the Bernabeu, whilst at the other end of the table, Mallorca failed to climb out of the bottom three after being held by Rayo Vallecano 1-1 at Ono Estadi.

Barcelona and Real Madrid will now focus their immediate attentions on the Champions League semi-finals and their respective opponents, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, also prepared for midweek with victories in the Bundesliga.

Bayern have already stormed to the German top flight title yet continue to show no sign of letting up as demonstrated by their ruthless 1-6 mauling of Hannover 96 at the AWD Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Mario Gomez and Claudio Pizarro prolonged their excellent recent form wading in with a brace apiece with Franck Ribery also on the score-sheet after an own goal from Lars Stindl got the Bavarians up and running.

Meanwhile at Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund’s method of triumph was slightly less comfortable against Mainz, with Robert Lewandowski only settling matters late in the day for the hosts after Marco Reus’ first minute strike.

Furth kept their faint chances of survival alive with a 0-1 victory over fellow strugglers Augsburg, whilst it was confirmed that Hertha Berlin will return to the Bundesliga next season after clinching promotion against Sandhausen.

In Italy, Juventus moved ever closer to Serie A honours after edging out AC Milan 1-0 in Turin courtesy of Arturo Vidal’s penalty midway through the second half.

Chasers Napoli virtually secured themselves a return to the Champions League with a hard fought 3-2 home win against Cagliari which leaves them eight points ahead of the clubs placed fourth of lower.

Elsewhere across Europe, Ajax stayed top of Eredivisie despite being held to a 1-1 draw by Heerenveen at the Amsterdam Arena, whilst Celtic were confirmed as SPL champions after a comprehensive 4-1 thrashing of Inverness at Celtic Park.

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Chris Kisby

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