By Ronan Murphy
Everton moved to within three points of a Champions League place with a 2-0 win over struggling Queens Park Rangers. The Toffees took the lead five minutes before half-time when Darron Gibson's deflected shot beat Julio Cesar. The Irish midfielder was carrying a thigh injury into the game, but put in an excellent performance to guide David Moyes' side to victory.
James McCarthy helped Wigan Athletic book their place in the final of the FA Cup with a strong performance in midfield as the Latics defeated Millwall 2-0. The scoreline could have been much higher were it not for some fantastic saves from Lions keeper David Forde, while Andy Keogh and Sean St Ledger also did well for the Championship side.
Robbie Brady scored for the second weekend in a row as Hull City moved closer to automatic promotion with a 2-1 win over Ipswich Town. The winger netted from the spot on 28 minutes, before crossing for Robert Koren's winner seven minutes from time. Despite the defeat, Mick McCarthy's Tractor Boys are four points above the drop zone.
McCarthy's former club, Wolverhampton Wanderers slipped into the bottom three thanks to a 3-1 loss at home to Huddersfield Town. Stephen Ward gave the hosts the lead after just four minutes, getting on the end of a Kevin Doyle cross, but fellow Irishman Sean Scannell levelled the tie before the half hour mark. The under-21 international was in fine form throughout, and was instrumental in his side's second goal.
Watford's hopes of an automatic promotion spot dwindled as they suffered a 3-2 defeat at Peterborough United. The Hornets found themselves three goals down with 20 minutes to go, but could not snatch a late equaliser despite Mark Yeates' free-kick giving them a way back into the game in the 85th minute.
Relegation-battling Scunthorpe United gained a late point against Walsall, with Republic of Ireland under-21 defender Niall Canavan heading in with just two minutes remaining. The Iron are just two points from safety, but have played one more game than Oldham Athletic who sit just above the drop zone.
At the other end of the table, Yeovil Town guaranteed a playoff spot with a 2-0 win over Stevenage. Former Ireland under-18 international midfielder Sam Foley gave the Glovers the lead with a curled effort, moving Gary Johnson's side just five points from an automatic promotion place.
Crawley Town defeated Coventry City 2-0 in a midtable clash. Billy Clarke scored his 10th league goal of the season with a low shot that beat fellow Irishman Joe Murphy.
Former Ireland international striker David Connolly took his tally to six in 16 for Portsmouth, but saw his side suffer a late 3-2 defeat against Brentford to keep Pompey in a relegation battle.
Burton Albion scored a stoppage time goal to stay in the third automatic promotion place with a 1-0 win over struggling Plymouth Argyle. Defender Anthony O'Connor and wide player Damien McCrory put in good performances for the Brewers, with McCrory putting in the corner for the late winner.
York City moved three points clear of relegation thanks to a 2-0 win away to Northampton Town. The Cobblers had won their previous 10 games to move into the playoffs, but could not break down the York defence, with Ireland under-21 international Lanre Oyebanjo putting in a good display.
Hibernian will face Celtic in the 2013 Scottish Cup Final after both sides recorded extra-time victories in the semi-finals of the competition. Saturday's semi saw Pat Fenlon's side progress with a 4-3 extra time win over Falkirk after the game had finished 3-3 after 90 minutes. Eoin Doyle's 83rd minute goal sent the game into extra-time before Leigh Griffiths scored the winner.
Anthony Stokes scored Celtic's fourth in their 4-3 extra-time win over Dundee United, coming off the bench to head in the winner. Dubliner Jon Daly bagged two in normal time to give his side the lead and later help force extra-time.
Aiden McGeady made his first start of the year for Spartak Moscow, taking to the pitch in their 2-0 defeat of Amkar Perm. The winger was starting his first game since December due to ankle ligament problems, and delivered the corner for Pavel Yakolev's opener.
PAOK moved six points clear in second place in the Greek Super League with a 1-0 win over Levadiakos. Liam Lawrence came off the bench to help his side hold on for the win, with just one regular game remaining. PAOK will then advance to the playoffs where a Champions League qualifying spot is up for grabs.
|IRISH XI OF THE WEEKEND
Goalkeeper: David Forde (Millwall)
Defenders: Niall Canavan (Scunthorpe), Anthony O'Connor (Burton), Lanre Oyebanjo (York), Stephen Ward (Wolves)
Midfielders: Robbie Brady (Hull), Darron Gibson (Everton), Sam Foley (Yeovil), Sean Scannell (Huddersfield)
Forwards: Anthony Stokes (Celtic), David Connolly (Portsmouth)