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Barca's celebrations put on hold
by Paul Kennedy, May 11th, 2009 7AM



[EUROPEAN RACES] It was not a good evening for Barcelona. It had a chance to wrap up La Liga title Sunday, but it blew a 3-1 lead against Villarreal and had to settle for a 3-3 tie when it gave up goals to Matias Fernandez in the 78th minute and Joseba Llorente in stoppage time.

To make matter worse, Frenchman Eric Abidal, who is already suspended from the UEFA Champions League final against Manchester United, was red carded and will miss Wednesday's Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao.

The worst news, though, was Andres Iniesta, the hero of Barca's Champions League series against Chelsea, went off with a thigh injury that could sideline him for the remainder of the season.

"[Losing Iniesta] is worse news then not being crowned champion," Barca coach Pep Guardiola said.

ENGLAND. In a consolation game of sorts for Champions League semifinal losers, Chelsea pounded Arsenal, 4-1, at the Emirates on Sunday.

"I'm delighted," said Dutch manager Guus Hiddink. "The team is delighted with the performance today. Overall, I'm very proud of the team after what has happened, the injustice we felt at not being in the final of the European Cup, it felt like a huge injustice for everyone in the team."

The loss, Arsenal's worst defeat to Chelsea at home in 39 years, ended a string of 21 matches without a defeat in the EPL.

Brazilian Alex and Frenchmen Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda scored for Chelsea, which also got an own goal from Kole Toure. Dane Nicklas Bendtner scored the only goal for Arsenal, which missed numerous chances.

At the top of the standings, Manchester United and Liverpool remained 1-2.

GERMANY. Four goals by Mario Gomez gave VfB Stuttgart a 4-1 victory over Bundesliga leader Wolfsburg and reopened the race with three matches left.

Gomez scored in the first minute and added goals in the 20th, 63rd and 77th to up his season total to 23 goals.

"We imagined this match a bit differently," Wolfsburg coach Felix Magath, the master of understatement, said.

Defending champion Bayern Munich won, 3-1, at Energie Cottbus to move into a tie for first place with Wolfsburg, which leads on goal difference (plus-27 to plus-25).

Hertha Berlin is in third, a point behind, after beating Bochum, 2-0, while Stuttgart is only two points off the lead.

ITALY. Inter Milan twice blew loads and had to settle for a 2-2 tie at Chievo, but second-place AC Milan's 1-1 tie with Juventus means means Inter will retain the Serie A title with a home win over Siena next weekend.

Hernan Crespo and Mario Balotelli scored for Inter, but Chievo replied with a superb goal from Michele Marcolini and a second equalizer from Luciano.

Elsewhere ...

-- Porto clinched the Portuguese league title for the fourth year in a row when it defeated Nacional, 1-0, on a goal by defender Bruno Alves.

-- Rangers beat Celtic, 1-0, on a goal by Steven Davis at Ibrox and regained the lead by two points over its Glaswegian rival in the Scottish Premier League.
-- Dynamo Kiev clinched its 13th Ukrainian league title since Ukraine's independence from the Soviet Union, after coming from behind twice to beat Tavria Simferopol, 3-2, on goals by Romanian Tiberiu Ghioane, Andriy Nesmachniy and Alexander Aliev.

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