Cristiano Ronaldo misses penalty as Real Madrid draw gives Barcelona title edge

CNN  — 

Barcelona is on the verge of reclaiming the Spanish league title after Real Madrid stumbled on Saturday.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side could only draw 2-2 at home to Valencia, coming back from a two-goal deficit despite Cristiano Ronaldo’s penalty miss, after Barca opened up a five-point lead with a 2-0 win against Real Sociedad.

However, Catalan fans could yet face a nervous wait following the Spanish football federation’s decision to suspend the league from May 16 due to a dispute with the government over new legislation concerning TV rights revenue.

Barcelona was due to play third-placed defending champion Atletico Madrid next weekend in the penultimate round of La Liga, and victory would secure the domestic title for the 23rd time.

Coach Luis Enrique turned 45 on Friday, and his team gave him the perfect birthday present as Neymar headed home Lionel Messi’s deflected cross six minutes after halftime for the Brazil forward’s 33rd goal this season – and 50th in 87 games since arriving from Santos.

Substitute Pedro Rodriguez settled the match with a spectacular overhead kick in the 86th minute, meaning Barca has now won 27 of its last 29 matches in all competitions.

Real, by contrast, went 2-0 down inside half an hour as Francisco Alcacer and Javi Fuego netted for fourth-placed Valencia.

Ronaldo should have reduced the deficit just before halftime after Gareth Bale was fouled, but the La Liga top scorer failed to add to his season tally of 54 – one more than Messi – as Diego Alves dived low to save.

It was a frustrating half for Real, also hitting the woodwork three times as well as losing Germany midfielder Toni Kroos to injury.

Defender Pepe reduced the deficit with a header from a corner in the 56th minute and midfielder Isco set up a frantic finish as he lashed home a long-range effort in the 86th, but Real’s title hopes are now realistically over bar an inconceivable collapse by Barca.

For now, the two great rivals will turn their attention to Europe as they seek to set up an all-Spanish Champions League final.

Real must overcome a 2-1 deficit in the second leg of the semi at home to Italian champion Juventus on Wednesday.

Juve’s celebrations of a fourth successive Serie A crown were a little dampened by a 1-1 draw at home to third-bottom Cagliari on Saturday.

However, the Turin team’s fans were buoyed by the return of star midfielder Paul Pogba, who scored the opening goal on his return from injury and could be a key figure in the trip to Madrid.

Second-placed Roma suffered a 2-1 defeat at AC Milan despite a second-half penalty from veteran club legend Francesco Totti, and will concede the position if city rival Lazio wins at home to Inter Milan on Sunday.

Barca, meanwhile, will on Tuesday take a 3-0 lead to German champion Bayern Munich, which suffered a fourth successive defeat in all competitions on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola’s team lost 1-0 at home to fifth-placed Augsburg to continue a miserable run since clinching the league title last month, having also been beaten in the German Cup semifinals by Borussia Dortmund.

Augsburg could afford to miss a first-half penalty – first-choice goalkeeper Manuel Neuer came off the bench to see Paul Verhaegh’s effort hit the post after his deputy Pepe Reina was red-carded just 13 minutes into a rare starting appearance for the veteran Spaniard.

Paraguay striker Raul Marcelo Bobadilla, who was fouled by Reina, scored the winner in the 71st minute with a backheel after being set up by on-loan Bayern midfielder Pierre-Emile Hoejbjerg.

Borussia Moenchengladbach moved up to second with a 3-0 win over fourth-placed Bayer Leverkusen, but Wolfsburg can reclaim that spot by winning at second-bottom Paderborn on Sunday.

In the English Premier League, fourth-placed Manchester United moved a step closer to clinching a return to the Champions League by beating Crystal Palace 2-1.

Spain midfielder Juan Mata put United ahead when Ashley Young’s cross was handled, and the England international was also involved in the second-half headed winner by Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini after Jason Puncheon equalized for the home side.

It put Louis van Gaal’s team seven points clear of fifth-placed Liverpool, which travels to new champion Chelsea on Sunday.

Burnley was relegated after just one season back in the top flight despite winning 1-0 at third-bottom Hull, which has two games to avoid the drop.

Bottom team QPR will also go down with anything less than victory at second-placed deposed champion Manchester City on Sunday, but Leicester and Sunderland boosted their survival chances by beating Southampton and Everton respectively.

In France, second-placed Lyon suffered a shock 3-0 win at Caen which means Paris Saint-Germain has a six-point lead with two matches to play.

Laurent Blanc’s team, which thrashed Guingamp 6-0 on Friday, needs just a draw from one of those games to clinch a third successive title.

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