League round-up: Bothroyd lifts Cardiff to top two

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The Independent Football

Cardiff City reclaimed the second automatic promotion berth in the Championship after a straightforward 3-0 win over Portsmouth. Seyi Olofinjana turned in Craig Bellamy's cross after six minutes before Pompey made the win easier when Ricardo Rocha was sent off for head-butting Jay Bothroyd. Bothroyd made it 2-0 on half-time, and Peter Whittingham's second-half tap-in wrapped up the victory.

"Every single player was on top form," the Cardiff manager Dave Jones said, "and Craig Bellamy deserved a goal as he set a very high example."

Reading, the division's form team, continued their charge when goals by Jimmy Kebe, Jobi McAnuff and Noel Hunt beat Leicester City 3-1 to lift them to fourth, three points behind Cardiff. The Royals swept past Swansea City who lost away for a fourth consecutive match, 2-1 at Burnley. The Clarets' supporters acclaimed Graham Alexander, on as a substitute two minutes from time to make his 1,000th career appearance, only the second outfield player ever to do so.

Sixth-placed Leeds United needed a late equaliser to earn a 2-2 home draw with Watford, but Hull City are within two points off them after Matt Fryatt scored two in a 3-1 defeat of Doncaster.

At the bottom, Preston North End and Scunthorpe United have fresh hope after beating fellow strugglers Sheffield United and Crystal Palace respectively. Keith Treacy scored twice as a 3-1 defeat at Preston left the Blades eight points from safety, while in a fractious match at Palace both sides had a man sent off but the Iron won 2-1.

Marlon King scored both goals as Coventry City beat Millwall 2-1, the Lions not helped when substitute Neil Harris was sent off three minutes after coming on at the start of the second half.

Elsewhere, Middlesbrough and Barnsley drew 1-1 and promising Josh Carson scored as 10-man Ipswich won 1-0 at Bristol City.

League One

Brighton were crowned champions after Inigo Calderon, Glenn Murray and Elliott Bennett scored in a 3-1 win at Walsall.

League Two

Chesterfield need one more point to earn promotion after a 2-1 home win over Macclesfield.


Barcelona took a giant stride towards a third straight Spanish title with a 1-1 draw away to10-man Real Madrid to preserve their eight-point lead over their rivals at the top with six games left.

In a tense encounter at the Bernabeu, Lionel Messi scored from the spot in the 53rd minute after Raul Albiol was sent off for a foul on David Villa. Barça were in control until Dani Alves felled Marcelo in the area and Cristiano Ronaldo converted the penalty to prevent Barça winning a sixth successive "El Classico".

In Italy, Milan look poised for the title after beating Sampdoria 3-0, while Internazionale's hopes of winning a sixth straight title were dealt another blow with a 2-0 defeat at lowly Parma.

Scottish Cup Semi-Final

Motherwell booked a place in a final against Aberdeen or Celtic, who play today, when first-half goals by Stephen Craigan, Jamie Murphy and John Sutton earned a 3-0 win over St Johnstone.