Arsenal's slim title hopes hit by loss to Swansea

Arsenal's hopes of challenging for the English Premier League title took what could be a decisive blow Sunday with a 3-2 loss at newcomer Swansea.

Robin van Persie put the Gunners ahead in the fifth minute with his 18th goal of the season but Swansea outplayed and outpassed what has long been one of England's most attractive teams.

Scott Sinclair converted a 16th-minute penalty kick before Nathan Dyer made it 2-1 to the Swans 12 minutes after halftime. Theo Walcott tied it in the 69th but Arsenal conceded less than a minute later when Danny Graham took advantage of some slack defending.

Arsenal's sixth defeat in 11 road games allowed sixth-place Newcastle to draw even at 36 points with a 1-0 win over Queens Park Rangers on Leon Best's 37th-minute goal.

Arsenal is four points behind fourth-place Chelsea in the final Champions League berth. Swansea is 10th place, 10 points behind the Gunners but nine clear of the relegation zone.

"It's something we all inherently believe in and we've had success with it," Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers said after his team's first win over Arsenal in 30 years. "The players show great courage to pass the ball. Sometimes we make mistakes but I've got a great belief they can play and pass, even against the best teams."

Defeat in Mark Hughes' first match since replacing Neil Warnock left QPR winless in its last nine league matches and in the relegation zone with 17 points,

Manchester City can restore its three-point advantage over defending champion Manchester United on Monday if it beats Wigan.


MILAN (AP) — Inter Milan denied AC Milan a chance to take the Serie A lead, winning the city derby 1-0 on Diego Milito's 54th-minute goal.

After Juventus' 1-1 tie with Cagliari, defending champion Milan had the chance to lead by two points. Milan enjoyed several good opportunities in the first half, when Mark Van Bommel struck the crossbar in stoppage time. Inter, which had lost three straight derbies, defended deeply after taking the lead and closed within six points of Juventus, which leads Milan by one point.

Wesley Sneijder entered for Inter in the 76th minute, his first appearance since Nov. 2.

Juventus was held to a 1-1 draw by visiting Cagliari. Mirko Vucinic gave Juventus the lead in the seventh minute but Andrea Cossu tied it two minutes into the second half.

Udinese lost 3-2 at Genoa, leaving it three points back. Damiano Ferronetti headed Udinese into the lead in the 14th minute but second-half goals from Andreas Granqvist, Bosko Jankovic and Rodrigo Palacio handed Genoa victory.

Genoa captain Marco Rossi was ejected in the 75th minute for pulling down Antonio Di Natale, who converted the penalty kick. TV replays showed the Genoa captain had played the ball.


BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Alexis Sanchez scored the go-ahead goal in the 75th minute, four minutes after Real Betis defender Mario was ejected for his second yellow card, and Barcelona struggled a 4-2 win that kept it five points behind Spanish league leader Real Madrid.

Lionel Messi scored twice for Barcelona, giving him 19 league goals this season and 33 overall.

Ahead of its game at Real Madrid on Wednesday in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals, Barcelona took a 2-0 lead on goals by Xavi in the 10th minute and Messi in the 12th.

At that point, Barcelona had outscored league opponents 41-0 at home this season. But Ruben Castro scored in the 32nd and Roque Santa Cruz tied it in the 52nd. After Sanchez's goal, Messi converted a penalty kick in the 86th.

Diego Simeone made his home debut as Atletico Madrid coach with a 3-0 win over Villarreal as Radamel Falcao scored twice and Diego once.

Elsewhere, Fernando Llorente scored his first goal since returning from injury in Athletic Bilbao's 3-0 home win over Levante, and Racing Santander beat Osasuna 2-0 from a pair of spot kicks by striker Christian Stuani.


MARSEILLE, France (AP) — Lic Remy scored in the 61st and 83rd minutes, and Marseille beat defending champion Lille 2-0. Sixth-place Marseille closed within two points of third-place Lille in the last Champions League berth.


ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Cleyton's late goal from an overhead kick ensured Panathinaikos won 1-0 at Giannena on to stay within four points of leader Olympiakos in the Greek league.

Cleyton scored in the 85th minute of a match played in below-freezing conditions and which started 45 minutes late because of ice on the field. Panathinaikos has two games in hand on defending champion Olympiakos, which beat Levadiakos 3-1.

Also Sunday, PAOK beat Ergotelis 2-1 to take sole possession of fourth place, Panionios defeated Panaitolikos 1-0, while matches between Atromitos-Aris and Kerkyra-Asteras ended in 0-0 ties.