Celtic clinches championship

LONDON, APRIL 19. Several European teams closed in on league titles on Sunday, but Scotland's Celtic was the only one to clinch its national championship, becoming the first team to qualify directly for next season's Champions League.

The race in Spain remains the tightest, with Valencia leading defending champion Real Madrid on head-to-head results.

Miguel Angel ``Mista'' Ferrer scored an injury-time equaliser as Valencia drew 2-2 with Real Sociedad after trailing 2-0 with 20 minutes remaining. Vicente Rodriguez also scored for the 2002 winner.

Madrid, which lacked injured top scorer Ronaldo, got goals from Ivan Helguera and Santiago Solari to beat crosstown rival Atletico de Madrid 2-1.

AC Milan and Arsenal both won their weekend matches to stay in control in Italy and England, but Werder Bremen was held to a scoreless draw in the Bundesliga.

Celtic won its 39th Scottish title after downing Kilmarnock 1-0 on Stilian Petrov's lone goal. It was Celtic's third league title in four years under manager Martin O'Neill.

Celtic, which lost to Rangers on goal difference last year, can make it a double if it wins the Scottish Cup on May 22.

Arsenal got four goals from Thierry Henry as the unbeaten Gunners demolished Leeds 5-0, leaving them just two victories short of clinching the English Premier League title. Robert Pires also scored.

Kaka scored the game-winner for AC Milan with a diving header in the closing minutes to help the defending European champion beat Siena 2-1 in the Serie A.

Andriy Shevchenko also scored for Milan, while Enrico Chiesa converted from the penalty spot for Siena.

Werder Bremen was held to a 0-0 draw by demotion-threatened Hannover 96, but the Bundesliga leader's third draw in four matches probably won't halt its march to a fifth title.

Manchester United beaten

Chelsea fell further behind Arsenal in the Premier League after a 0-0 draw against struggling Everton, while defending champion Manchester United lost to Portsmouth 1-0. Steve Stone scored the match-winner for Portsmouth.

Arsenal leads the league with 81 points, followed by Chelsea with 72 and Man United with 68. Liverpool and Newcastle both have 50 points in the race for the final Champions League berth.

Valencia remains on top

FC Barcelona took over third place in the Spanish league by blanking Malaga 3-0, while Deportivo de La Coruna slumped to a 1-1 draw against Valladolid to drop to fourth. Javier Saviola, Luis Garcia and Philip Cocu scored a goal each for Barcelona.

Valencia remains at the top of the standings with 70 points, the same as second-place Real Madrid. Barcelona is next with 63 points, followed by Deportivo with 61.

AS Roma held

AS Roma retained second place after downing Modena 1-0 on Francesco Totti's goal, while Juventus needed a 90th-minute equaliser from Igor Tudor to hold Parma to a 2-2 draw.

Inter Milan stayed on track for a Champions League berth by doubling Bologna 4-2.

AC Milan is in first place with 75 points, followed by Roma with 66 and Juventus with 63. Inter is fourth with 52 points, one more than Parma.

Bayern Munich loses

Defending Bundesliga champion Bayern Munich lost to Borussia Dortmund 2-0 to leave Werder Bremen closer to the title. Ewerthon and Christian Woerns scored for Dortmund.

Bremen, unbeaten in 20 matches, is top with 67 points, followed by Bayern with 59 and Stuttgart, which topped Frankfurt 3-1, with 57.

Rangers finish runner-up

Steven Thompson and Gavin Rae scored a goal each as Rangers beat last place Partick Thistle 2-0, but it wasn't enough to stop Celtic from winning the Scottish Premier League title. Third-placed Hearts was held to a 1-1 draw by Livingston. Unbeaten Celtic has 90 points from 32 matches, followed by Rangers with 74 and Hearts with 55.

Big win for PSV Eindhoven

Ajax failed to move closer to its 29th Dutch league title after being held to a 1-1 draw by RBC Roosendaal, while PSV Eindhoven downed NEC Nijmegen 3-0.

Eric Hellemons opened the scoring for RBC, but Rafael van der Vaart equalised to keep Ajax on track. PSV got a pair of goals from Mateja Kezman, who leads the league with 24 goals.

Ajax is in first place with 70 points, eight more than PSV with 62. Feyenoord, which outclassed FC Utrecht 3-0, trails with 59 points.

Sochaux is champion

Sochaux won the French League Cup for the first time, defeating Nantes 5-4 on penalty kicks after the match finished 1-1.

Goalkeeper Teddy Richert, who had an outstanding match, saved a spot kick from Pascal Delhommeau to give Sochaux the win and a spot in next season's UEFA Cup.

— AP

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