By The Associated Press
LONDON (AP) — Manchester City took charge of the Premier League title race as Edin Dzeko and Yaya Toure scored first-half goals for a 2-0 win at Crystal Palace on Sunday.
After leader Liverpool lost 2-0 against Chelsea at home, City cut its deficit to three points with one game in hand. If it wins the three remaining matches and keeps a superior goal difference, Man City will be crowned champions.
Recovered from a thigh problem, Toure made a spectacular return to competition, setting up Dzeko's opener in the fourth minute with a precise cross the striker headed home. The powerful midfielder then started and concluded a superb collective move two minutes before halftime with a curling shot.
Chelsea slowed Liverpool's title charge and kept its own chances alive with a 2-0 victory against the sloppy leaders.
A resilient Chelsea beat a team on an 11-game league winning streak.
Demba Ba seized on Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard's slip in first-half stoppage time to make it 1-0. Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge gave the ball away in the 90th minute and Chelsea launched a quick counterattack that Willian finished off.
It was Liverpool's first loss since falling at Chelsea four months ago. Chelsea is two points behind Liverpool with two games remaining.
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Atletico Madrid moved one step closer to its first Spanish league title in 18 years with a 1-0 victory at Valencia, while Lionel Messi completed an emotional 3-2 comeback win for Barcelona at Villarreal two days after the death of former coach Tito Vilanova.
Atletico midfielder Raul Garcia scored with an impressive header in the 43rd minute, and its defense did the rest as it gave Valencia no chance to rally at its Mestalla Stadium.
Diego Simeone's side moved six points clear of Real Madrid, which has a game in hand, while Barcelona remained within four points after coming from two goals down to beat Villarreal in its first game since the death of Vilanova.
Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets wept as the two teams gathered at the center circle before kickoff at El Madrigal Stadium to observe a minutes of silence for Vilanova, who died on Friday after a battle with cancer, having led Barcelona to the league title last season. Vilanova was honored similarly across Spain's first division this weekend.
Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta said his team had been "very affected" by Vilanova's death, who was honored this weekend by more than 50,000 people who attended a memorial site at Camp Nou.
"It has touched all of us," Iniesta said. "I will take with me the example he set for us, both when he was with us and after."
Barcelona defender Dani Alves responded to a racist taunt at Villarreal by picking up a banana that landed at his feet, peeling and then eating it before proceeding to take a corner kick.
Alves said after the match that humor is the best way to combat racism in sports.
"We have suffered this in Spain for some time," Alves said. "You have to take it with a dose of humor. We aren't going to change things easily.
"If you don't give it importance, they don't achieve their objective."
Ruben "Cani" Gracia and Manuel Trigueros scored from counterattacks for Villarreal to go 2-0 up by the 55th minute.
But Villarreal then self-destructed with own goals by Gabriel Armando in the 65th and Mateo Musacchio in the 78th, both redirecting passes by Dani Alves into their team's net.
Messi finally beat goalie Sergio Asenjo after Busquets and Cesc Fabregas combined to set the forward up to net his 27th league goal of the campaign and reach the 40-goal mark in all competitions for the fifth straight season.
Earlier, Garcia's ninth goal of the league season kept Atletico on course for its first league title since 1996.