By STEVE DOUGLAS
2014-03-16 06:01 AM
Maybe it won't be a procession to the Premier League trophy for Chelsea, after all.
The title race in England was thrown wide open by Chelsea's stormy 1-0 loss to Aston Villa, while Bayern closed in on championship in Germany with another win and Real Madrid extended its lead in Spain.
Here is a look at the action from the leading leagues in Europe on Saturday:
Chelsea threw the Premier League title race wide open by losing 1-0 at Aston Villa, ensuring Manchester City trimmed the gap to the leaders to six points with a battling 2-0 win at Hull.
Chelsea saw Willian and Ramires sent off, and manager Jose Mourinho sent to the stands, in a wild end to a match settled by Fabian Delph's impudent 82nd-minute goal at Villa Park.
City leapfrogged Arsenal and Liverpool into second place by overcoming the 10th-minute sending-off of captain Vincent Kompany to win at Hull thanks to goals by David Silva and Edin Dzeko.
City has three games in hand over Chelsea, while Liverpool and Arsenal are seven points back having played two fewer matches.
The battle to avoid relegation also heated up, with the bottom seven teams separated by just five points after last-place Fulham beat Newcastle 1-0 for the team's first victory under new manager Felix Magath.
Cardiff conceded a goal three minutes into injury time to lose 2-1 at Everton and is now just a point above Fulham along with Sunderland, which drew 0-0 with Crystal Palace.
West Bromwich Albion won 2-1 at Swansea to move three points clear of danger, Norwich remained in trouble by losing 4-2 at Southampton and Stoke beat West Ham 3-1 in a match between two mid-table teams.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored his Spanish league-leading 25th goal to give Real Madrid a lackluster 1-0 win at Malaga, when the pacesetters extended their unbeaten run to 30 consecutive matches in all competitions.
Ronaldo netted the winner in the 23rd minute, and a tired Madrid was fortunate Malaga failed to muster a comeback in the final 10 minutes.
Madrid's victory increased its lead over Atletico Madrid to six points before its closest chaser hosted Espanyol late.
Third-place Barcelona will enter Sunday's match against Osasuna seven points behind Madrid with the two powerhouses set to clash in the Spanish capital next weekend.
Madrid's win was tarnished by the loss of Karim Benzema to an apparent leg injury.
Bastian Schweinsteiger scored one goal and set up another as Bayern Munich moved ever closer to the Bundesliga title with a 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen.
Schweinsteiger crossed for Mario Mandzukic to score with a powerful header in the 44th minute, and secured Bayern's league record 17th win in succession with a perfectly placed free kick in the 52nd.
Stefan Kiessling headed Leverkusen's consolation from Roberto Hilbert's cross in injury time.
Bayern extended its league record unbeaten run to 50 games and moved 23 points clear of Borussia Dortmund with nine games remaining.
Dortmund was beaten 2-1 at home by Borussia Moenchengladbach, meaning Bayern can secure the title at Mainz next week if Dortmund and Schalke, 24 points behind in third, both fail to win.
Third-place Lille performed poorly in splitting the points with lowly Nantes from a goalless draw in the French league on Saturday.
Lille trails second-place Monaco by six points while Nantes is eight points clear of the relegation zone.
Paris Saint-Germain tops the league with an eight-point lead over Monaco. PSG hosts Saint-Etienne on Sunday while Monaco visits Lyon and Bordeaux faces Montpellier.