04/20/2014 06:21 EDT | Updated 06/20/2014 05:59 EDT

Liverpool takes another big stride to Premier League title with 3-2 win at Norwich

LONDON - Liverpool assured its return to the Champions League on Sunday, but a much bigger prize is just around the corner.

What was looking like a gripping finale to the Premier League title race is starting to turn into a procession for the Reds after they beat Norwich 3-2 to move five points ahead of Chelsea with three matches remaining.

A look at play across Europe's top leagues as the end of the season approaches:



A first English championship in 24 years is within Liverpool's grasp after the win at Norwich, which was led by Raheem Sterling's two goals and the 30th of the season by Luis Suarez.

An 11th straight league win also ensured that the Reds will return to the Champions League for the first time since the 2009-10 season.

Sterling crashed home a long-range strike in the fourth minute before setting up Suarez in the 11th minute for his 12th goal against Norwich in their last five meetings.

After Gary Hooper cut the deficit in the 54th, Sterling re-established Liverpool's two-goal lead after weaving his way through Norwich's defence before his shot looped over goalkeeper John Ruddy thanks to a deflection.

Robert Snodgrass' 77th-minute header set up a tense finish but Liverpool held on to further distance itself from Chelsea, which lost 2-1 to Sunderland on Saturday. Liverpool is nine points ahead of third-placed Manchester City, which has two games in hand.

It is promising to be a tighter race for the final Champions League spot, with fourth-place Arsenal and Everton winning to leave them separated by one point.

Lukas Podolski scored twice in Arsenal's 3-0 victory at Hull, and Everton downed Manchester United 2-0 on first-half goals by Leighton Baines and Kevin Mirallas. The outcome marked another bad day for United manager David Moyes, who returned to the club he coached for 11 years.

United cannot qualify for the Champions League, the first time it will miss the competition in 19 years.



Celta Vigo outclassed Almeria, winning 4-2 as forward Manuel "Nolito" Agudo scored two goals and set up another to keep the hosts in the Spanish league's relegation zone.

Defender Paulao scored an own-goal and made a mistake that led to another as Real Betis slumped to a 3-1 defeat at Rayo Vallecano to sit on the brink of relegation, 10 points from safety with four games to go.

Later, Barcelona hosts Athletic Bilbao and needs a win to keep alive its dwindling hopes of keeping its league title. Barcelona returns home from three stinging defeats that threaten to leave the Catalan club without a major trophy for the first time since 2007-08.



Dimitar Berbatov helped Monaco gain a Champions League spot with a 1-0 win over Nice in the French league.

Berbatov chipped past goalkeeper David Ospina in the fifth minute for the only goal to help Monavo rebound from a 3-1 extra-time loss to Guingamp in the French Cup semifinals Wednesday.

Monaco consolidated second place in the league and moved within seven points of leader Paris Saint-Germain, which has a game in hand.

Ajaccio was relegated after losing 2-1 at Bastia. Guingamp is under the threat of relegation after losing 5-1 at Bordeaux to lie two points above Sochaux, which won 1-0 at Reims to keep its safety hopes alive.

Valenciennes' hopes of avoiding relegation took a hit with a 6-2 loss to Nantes. Lorient striker Vincent Aboubakar scored twice in stoppage time to salvage a 4-4 draw with 10-man Montpellier.



Bayer Leverkusen reclaimed fourth place in the Bundesliga with a 4-1 with at relegation-threatened Nuremberg, and Stuttgart eased its relegation fears with a 3-1 win over Schalke.

In Nuremberg, Emir Spahic opened the scoring with Leverkusen's first shot on target in the 16th. Marvin Plattenhardt tied it eight minutes later with a direct free kick from 25 yards.

Omer Toprak set up Sebastian Boenisch for Leverkusen's second goal in the 48th, and Heung-min Son ran the length of the field after a Nuremberg corner for Spahic to seal the win with 10 minutes remaining.

Roberto Hilbert added another goal in the 87th for Leverkusen, which reclaimed the last Champions League qualification spot from Wolfsburg.

Martin Harnik scored twice for Stuttgart to move four points in front of Hamburger SV in the relegation playoff place.