American striker BRIAN McBRIDE's two first-half goals sent Fulham to a 2-1 win over Bolton that marked the Cottagers third straight victory. McBride tapped a low cross past keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen for the first goal in the fourth minute. Fourteen minutes later, McBride ran on to a punt from his keeper, Mark Crossley, and volleyed home after the punt's bounce from 11 yards. McBride is now Fulham's leading scorer with five goals.
Reading, with Americans Bobby Convey (84 minutes) and Marcus Hahnmann (90), extended its unbeaten streak to 23 games with a 2-0 win over Plymouth Argyle and increased its lead at the top of the English League's second-tier to four points.
In Germany, Hannover 96, with American right back Steve Cherundolo going the full 90 in his 101st Bundesliga appearance, celebrated its biggest win of the season with a 5-1 rout over Kaiserslautern and moved up to 11th place.
Barcelona's Brazilian playmaker RONALDINHO, 25, was named European Player of the Year, winning France Football's Ballon d'Or on the award's 50th anniversary. Englishmen Frank Lampard (Chelsea) and Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) finished second and third. Last year's winner, Ukrainian Shevchenko of AC Milan, finished fifth behind Frenchman Thierry Henry (Arsenal). Ronaldinho helped Barcelona win the 2004 La Liga title after a six-year drought.
It's been a bad year for CHIVAS. The expansion franchise Chivas USA finished last in MLS and Chivas Guadalajara's 3-0 loss last weekend to Toluca ruined its chances of reaching the Apertura 2005 playoffs. Chivas Guadalajara also failed to reached the Clausura 2005 postseason. Chivas Guadalajara's Xavier Azkargorta, who took over from Benjamin Galindo three games in the Apertura 2005 and picked up just two wins and five ties, was fired.
Also in Mexico, CHIAPAS JAGUARES missed out on the playoffs because of a three-point penalty for failing to adhere to a Mexican rule that requires teams to play at least 765 minutes with one player under the age of 20 years and 11 months.