Gerrard's Title Slip and the Greatest World Football Moments of the Weekend
Liverpool's 2-0 loss to Chelsea on Sunday was great news for the neutral fan looking for a intense title run-in, but it was bad news for Steven Gerrard.
The Reds talisman was at fault for Demba Ba's opener, prompting Chelsea's travelling contingent to sing "He's done it again!" in reference to his 2005 League Cup final own goal and his error that helped Chelsea win at Anfield in 2009-10. The beautiful game can sometimes be cruel.
Elsewhere this weekend, Barcelona and Bayern both wrestled from behind to win, Cristiano Ronaldo had a rather good day at the office and Ajax had a big reason to celebrate...
Steven Gerrard Inspired a Liverpool Slip-Up
A few weeks ago, Liverpool looked on course to win their first league title in 24 years, with a 3-2 win over Manchester City, inspiring an emotive "This does not f*****g slip" speech from Gerrard.
How ironic that a literal slip on the field by the England captain gifted Chelsea's Demba Ba a goal at Anfield on Sunday, blowing the title race wide-open once again.
The Reds failed to score for the first time in the league since November 2, thanks to Chelsea's resilient defence, which often saw nine men behind the ball when the five-man midfield dropped back for support. Mourinho's men doubled their advantage near the death when they counter-attacked, and Willian ended up slotting the ball into an empty net.
It wasn't the prettiest game in the world to watch—journalist Iain MacIntosh summed it up nicely by describing it as "like watching a gang of men trying to knock down a brick wall with spoons"—but we are now set for a thrilling title-race run-in.
Ryan Giggs Enjoyed a Dream Managerial Debut
Ryan Giggs won over the media and Manchester United fans at his first press conference as interim Manchester United manager on Friday, with some suggesting he should get the full-time job without having proved himself with an actual game.
The Welshman's managerial debut threatened to turn sour when he dropped Juan Mata and started Tom Cleverly—causing some premature fans to get #GiggsOut trending on Twitter—but the fears were short-lived, as Old Trafford was treated to a positive attacking display.
Wayne Rooney scored the first two goals of the 4-0 win over Norwich, while Mata came from the bench in the second half to claim a brace of his own.
Rumours of Louis van Gaals' arrival at United are intensifying, but Giggs has done his own claim to the permanent gig no harm with his start.
Jonjo Shelvey Scored a Goal-of-the-Season Contender
Swansea took a gigantic step toward Premier League safety with a 4-0 win over troubled Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon.
In-form striker Wilfried Bony opened the scoring, and Gabriel Agbonlahor equalised, but in the 26th minute, Jonjo Shelvey put the Swans back in front with one of the most stunning strikes of the season.
Villa keeper Brad Guzan made a poor clearance, which Shelvey controlled inside the centre circle before releasing an unstoppable volley into the top-right corner. Guzan's poor positioning surely invited the shot, but nothing should be taken away from the 21-year-old's superb effort.
After a performance in which he also delivered two assists, Shelvey was praised by manager Gary Monk, who told the BBC, per Rob Westall, that the hairless midfielder should be heading to Brazil this summer.
Cristiano Ronaldo Scored an Incredible Brace
Real Madrid kept pace in the La Liga title race on Saturday with a rousing 4-0 victory over Osasuna, despite Carlo Ancelotti's decision to rest several key players ahead of this week's Champions League semi-final second leg.
Any concerns for Ronaldo's fitness were quickly dissipated as the Portuguese superstar scored two brilliant goals.
After six minutes, the Ballon d'Or holder blasted the ball past several Osasuna defenders from distance to open the scoring, and he doubled his tally in the 52nd minute with a rising shot that looked like it might break the net.
Ronaldo has now reached 30 league goals this season, making him the first-ever Madrid player to score that amount in four consecutive seasons, as per @InfoCristiano.
Miralem Pjanic Cut Through Milan's Defence Like a Knife
Roma dashed Milan's chances of qualifying for Europe next season with a 2-0 win at the Stadio Olimpico on Friday evening.
Francesco Totti was in typically magnificent form, but the Giallorossi's star player was Miralem Pjanic, who opened the scoring with an incredible solo goal shortly before the interval. The Boasnian effortlessly skipped past Sulley Muntari, Riccardo Montolivo and Adil Rami before slotting home for his sixth goal of the season.
Ajax Won Their Fourth Consecutive Eredivisie Title
It's easy to see why Frank de Boer's name has been thrown into contention for the Manchester United gig: The Dutchman won his fourth consecutive league title with Ajax on Sunday after a 1-1 draw with Heracles Almelo.
Lasse Schone scored the goal to put the title beyond Feyenoord's reach, with a peculiar free kick that Heracles didn't even bother to defend with a wall!
“It was not the prettiest game, but eventually we dragged in the title,” De Boer told De Telegraaf (via ESPN FC) after the match.
Athletic Bilbao Scored Directly from a Corner
Athletic Bilbao hosted Sevilla on Sunday, with both sides vying for fourth place in La Liga.
Los Leones emerged 3-1 winners at the new San Mames, putting them six points clear of their Seville rivals and in the driving seat for Champions League qualification.
The most intriguing moment occurred in the fourth minute of play, when Basque midfielder Markel Susaeta put Athletic Club in the lead by scoring directly from a corner.
Perhaps Susaeta will now get the chance to do the same thing in Europe's premier club competition next season.
Bayern Munich Fought Back in a Seven-Goal Thriller
Bayern Munich's league games do not really have much competitive meaning at the moment, but alarm bells were surely ringing as they twice went behind to Werder Bremen at the Allianz Arena on Saturday—particularly as both goals were conceded on the counter-attack.
However, Die Roten fought back in the second half with a brace from Claudio Pizarro and efforts from Bastian Schweinsteiger and Arjen Robben, sending a message to a Real Madrid side who had stopped them scoring in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.
It was a difficult game for Pep Guardiola, who was in a sombre mood following the tragic loss of his friend and former colleague, Tito Vilanova.
Barcelona Rescued Victory from the Jaws of Defeat at Villarreal
Playing for the first time since Vilanova's death, Barcelona faced a difficult trip to Villarreal on Sunday. And much like Guardiola's Bayern, they were forced to rescue three points after falling behind.
The Yellow Submarine went two up through the efforts of Cani and Trigueros, only to concede two own goals in the second half. Lionel Messi was on hand to score the winner in the 83rd minute, finishing off build-up play from Sergio Busquets and Cesc Fabregas.
Unfortunately, the game was marred by racist taunting from Villarreal fans. When Dani Alves went to take a corner, a banana was thrown at him. The Brazilian responded by picking it up and eating it. "We have suffered this in Spain for some time," Alves said, per The Associated Press (via ESPN FC). "You have to take it with a dose of humour."