LONDON: Chelsea all but sealed its defence of the Premiership title on Saturday by defeating Bolton Wanderers 2-0 to open up a seemingly unassailable nine-point lead over Manchester United with just four games remaining.
Jose Mourinho's side fully capitalised on Friday night's unexpected slip-up by its closest pursuer, when United managed only a goalless draw with bottom club Sunderland.
Chelsea captain John Terry diverted Frank Lampard's driven free kick from the left past Jussi Jaaskelainen in the Bolton goal with a glanced header to start the scoring.
In the 59th minute, Lampard claimed his 15th league goal of the season, releasing Hernan Crespo with a raking pass and sprinting 40 yards for the return before walloping a shot high past Jaaskelainen from close range.
Davis frustrates United
Earlier, Sunderland goalkeeper Kelvin Davis halted United as his stunning display saw the visitor achieve a goalless draw. But the result wasn't enough to save Sunderland from relegation.
'I can't explain it,' said United manager Alex Ferguson. 'But when you've got some young players, you don't get the consistency. We need a miracle now. It's a great boost for Chelsea. But we can't give up because we've come too far to give up,' he added.
Samuel Eto'o scored the only goal to help La Liga leader Barcelona beat Villarreal 1-0. The match could have presaged next month's Champions League final, but both teams had key absentees.
Barcelona is set to meet AC Milan on Tuesday in a Champions League first-leg semifinal while Villarreal will spar with Arsenal.
Eto'o does it yet again
After 11 minutes, Eto'o controlled the ball just outside the penalty area, advanced three paces and struck a right-footed shot just inside the left goalpost in typical, predatory style to score the winner.
AC Milan beat city rival Inter Milan 1-0 thanks to Kakha Kaladze's 70th-minute goal and consolidated its second place in the Serie A standings. AC Milan moved up to 76 points, five clear of Inter and within four of league leader Juventus.
Kaladze controlled a long cross and volleyed into the goal from 8 metres with his left foot for his second goal of the season. The Georgian defender took advantage of Inter's failed offside trap, and coach Roberto Mancini later confirmed: 'Our mistake helped Milan goal.'
It was AC Milan's 103rd win in 262 derbies and avenged its injury-time loss to Inter in the first confrontation of the season last December.
The results: English Premier League: Manchester United 0 drew with Sunderland 0, Chelsea 2 bt Bolton.
Spanish Primera Liga: FC Barcelona 1 bt Villarreal 0.
Italian Serie A: AC Milan 1 bt Inter Milan 0. Agencies