Friday, April 30, 2004 

Larsson will be in EURO2004

Sweden striker Henrik Larsson, that is linked to sign for SL Benfica next summer, has bowed to pressure in his homeland and will come out of retirement to spearhead his country's UEFA EURO 2004™ challenge.

The 32-year-old Celtic FC talisman quit international football following the 2002 FIFA World Cup, where he scored three goals before the Swedes bowed out to Senegal. Larsson came out of retirement in April 2003 to play one EURO 2004™ qualifier, a 2-1 victory in Hungary which paved the way for success in Group 4 and an automatic passage to Portugal.

Although Larsson said that was it, he appears to have made himself available for selection for his third UEFA European Championship. "Everyone must be allowed to change their mind," he said. "I've felt drawn to EURO 2004™ for some time now but I haven't been 100 per cent sure until now. I feel fine and I would be stupid not to play in such a great tournament."



Pierre van Hooijdonk

Pierre van Hooijdonk was back in the news on Wednesday night. The 34-year-old striker came off the bench 25 minutes from the end of the Netherlands' friendly against Greece in Eindhoven to break a national-team record.

This was his 35th substitute appearance for his country - one more than Aron Winter managed - and to mark the achievement, Van Hooijdonk scored his side's final goal in a 4-0 triumph.

Van Hooijdonk's last-minute strike arrived nearly a decade after his Netherlands debut against Luxembourg on 14 December 1994. In the intervening years, the big centre-forward has won another 36 caps but started only two games.

The reason? For all his prolific form with RBC Roosendaal, NAC Breda, Celtic FC, Nottingham Forest FC, SBV Vitesse, SL Benfica, Feyenoord and now Fenerbahçe SK, Van Hooijdonk is regarded as a pinch-hitter. To wit, a player who can break open a match when the three main strikers - Ruud van Nistelrooij, Patrick Kluivert and Roy Makaay - cannot make the breakthrough.

Not only does he offer a huge aerial threat, he can also make a difference from set-pieces. Nor it is just for his playing abilities that 'Pi-Air' is considered by many a certainty for Dick Advocaat's 23-man squad for UEFA EURO 2004™. The player, who was Feyenoord's talisman during their victorious 2001/02 UEFA Cup campaign and scored 52 goals in 61 league games for the Rotterdam side, is also a strong presence in the dressing-room.

Advocaat admitted as much after the EURO 2004™ play-off against Scotland last November. Following his team's 6-0 second-leg triumph, the coach hailed the super sub, saying: "Pierre plays such an important role in this selection. He has been busy motivating the players all week."

AFC Ajax's Wesley Sneijder was the Dutch man of the match in the latter game with three assists and a goal, and after scoring he ran directly to Van Hooijdonk to embrace him. Van Nistelrooij did likewise after his goal.

Van Hooijdonk has had other reasons to celebrate this season, registering 20 goals in 29 Turkish league appearances for Fenerbahçe, following his move last summer from Feyenoord. The veteran of the 1998 FIFA World Cup and EURO 2000™ is on song.

That fact is not lost on Advocaat, who with four top forwards available, changed his formation for the Greece match from a 4-3-3 with wingers to a 4-4-2 - a diamond-shaped midfield with an extra striker up front. "It is a pity to have four good central strikers and only play one of them," he explained. "In this formation we can play with two."

"The new formation worked very well," he continued. "We controlled the match in the first half, and in the second you could see that the Greeks could not keep up with us any more - that resulted in us converting our superiority into goals. I am very happy with that, and when we play with such discipline, we can play this system against every opponent."

Whatever the template, Van Nistelrooij and Kluivert remain the first-choice strikers, while Makaay will feature if Advocaat decides to use the latter as an attacking midfielder in a diamond. However, one thing is certain: Van Hooijdonk will be ready to reprise his role as a goalscoring substitute whenever called upon.


Thursday, April 29, 2004 

Botafogo 2-2 Atlético Mineiro

With Luiz Matter temporarily commanding the team, Botafogo got it's first point in the Brasileirão, after drawing with Atlético Mineiro, in Caio Martins, Rio de Janeiro. The Alvinegros got back from a 0-2 disadvantage in the first half, but recovered after Valdo's goals gave strength to team, that managed the second, by Camacho, with ten minutes to play.

BOAFOGO: Jefferson, Márcio Gomes, Sandro, Gustavo e Jorginho Paulista (Daniel); Fernando, Carlos Alberto, Valdo e Têti (Camacho); Almir e Luizão (Hugo).

ATLÉTICO-MG: Eduardo, Carlinhos, Adriano, Luiz Alberto e Rubens Cardoso; Hélcio, Márcio Araújo (Juninho Cearense), Renato e Dejair (Zé Luís); Alex Mineiro e Quirino (Wagner).

GOALS: 0-1, Quirino (20'); 0-2, Quirino (22'); 1-2, Valdo (68'); 2-2, Camacho (80').


Arason frustrates dominant Latvia (Latvia 0 - Iceland 0, friendly match)

UEFA EURO 2004™ contenders Latvia had to settle for a draw in Riga after being thwarted by an excellent goalkeeping display by Iceland's Árni Gautur Arason.

The home side enjoyed most of the possession and created more clear-cut chances, but Andrejs Prohorenkovs was among the players who could not find a way to goal.

Latvia did have the ball in the back of the net after eight minutes when Igors Stepanovs (picture) stole ahead of his marker to head a free-kick past Arason, but the defender's effort was ruled offside. Andrejs Rubins then wasted a golden opportunity to give Latvia the lead just before half-time, slicing wide when unmarked eight metres from goal after he was picked out by Vitalis Astafjevs' left-wing cross.

Iceland struggled to assert themselves on the game early on, with striker Tryggvi Gudmundsson finding himself isolated up front. Thordur Gudjónsson found more joy down the right flank: the tricky winger had Iceland's best chance of the first half when he raced down the wing, cut inside and sent a left-foot shot from the edge of the penalty area just over the bar.

Midfield playmaker Jurijs Laizans started to make an impact after the break, carving out several opportunities for his side, only to find Arason always in the right place at the right time for Iceland. Prohorenkovs missed another great chance to open the scoring in the 49th minute, scuffing his shot from six metres and allowing Arason to save.

The big centre forward did well 15 minutes later to stretch and divert the ball goalwards as Laizans whipped in another great cross, but again Arason was equal to the task. Prohorenkovs then shot over the bar when the ball fell to his feet from the resulting corner.

Laizans grew in confidence as the match progressed and nearly made the breakthrough when he danced through several challenges into the Iceland box, but his shot was struck straight at the perfectly positioned Arason. Both coaches started to ring the changes midway through the second period, but Latvia's luck was summed up when Marians Pahars limped off just 12 minutes after coming off the substitutes' bench.

Iceland's creative influence disappeared when Thordur Gudjónsson was substituted. Indridi Sigurdsson then missed Iceland's best opportunity of the match, latching on to a loose ball and blasting over from six metres. However, the visitors were happy to see out the closing minutes to come away with a hard-earned draw.



Dutch destroy Greek run

The Netherlands brought an emphatic end to Greece’s 15-match unbeaten run courtesy of a comfortable 4-0 friendly win in Eindhoven. Roy Makaay, Boudewijn Zenden, John Heitinga and Pierre van Hooijdonk were all on the scoresheet as the home side warmed up for the summer in style.

The home side appeared entirely unhampered by the absences of Ruud van Nistelrooij, Andy van der Meyde, Edgar Davids, Arjen Robben and Philip Cocu. Only defender Mihalis Kapsis was out for Greece and midfield player Giorgios Karagounis returned to take his place in midfield after missing the 1-0 defeat of Switzerland in March. The almost full-strength side nevertheless lacked cohesion at the back and spark going forward.

The Dutch began the match incisively, taking full advantage of Dick Advocaat’s decision to change his customary 4-3-3 system and play with two forwards – Patrick Kluivert and Roy Makaay – and four men in midfield. Indeed, Makaay twice went close to giving his team an early lead, powering wide when unmarked in the second minute following a cross from Rafael van der Vaart and heading straight at goalkeeper Antonios Nikopolidis four minutes later.

Greece, meanwhile, struggled to impose themselves in the first period. On the rare occasions Otto Rehhagel's team did manage to create dangerous openings, the home team were alive to the danger. Wilfred Bouma made an excellent tackle to bring Giourkas Seitaridis' run to a halt just outside the box in the 25th minute. Soon afterwards, Nikolaos Dabizas was presented with his team’s best chance before the break from a free-kick but Edwin van der Sar palmed his headed effort over.

But if the Netherlands had been guilty of failing to deliver an end product to their neat passing game before the interval, this was certainly not the case in the second period. Makaay opened the scoring in the 49th minute, positioning himself perfectly to tap in Zenden's cross from close range. Provider turned goalscorer four minutes later as the Middlesbrough FC midfield player collected the ball on the edge of the area and slammed in a shot which took a deflection off Dabizas, wrong-footing keeper Nikopolidis. Defender Heitinga made it 3-0 in the 61st minute, heading in a right-wing Van der Vaart free-kick .

Van Hooijdonk landmark
Pierre van Hooijdonk applied the gloss finish to a commanding display a minute from time, converting a cross from Zenden for his tenth international goal. The Fenerbhace striker had become the record holder of Dutch substitute appearances when he came on for his 37th cap 24 minutes earlier. It was his 35th appearance as a replacement, beating the previous record held by Aron Winter.



Portugal 2 - 2 Sweden

Portugal were heading for defeat after gifting Sweden two goals in Coimbra before Nuno Gomes brought a pulsating encounter to a close in the final minute with a thumping header which ensured the spoils were shared.

Having beaten England in their last friendly outing, Sweden appeared on course for another victory when Portugal defender Rui Jorge put through his own net while under no pressure with three minutes remaining. Nuno Gomes then spared the blushes of the UEFA EURO 2004™ hosts, who had earlier relied on Pauleta to cancel out Kim Källström's opener for the Swedes,

Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari was without the FC Porto quintet of Paulo Ferreira, Ricardo Carvalho, Nuno Valente, Costinha and Deco because of their UEFA Champions League commitments, meaning Petit, Tiago, Miguel and Rui Jorge started the game. Sweden, meanwhile, were without Fredrik Ljungberg and Michael Svensson, with Christian Wilhelmsson and Johan Mjällby deputising.

The hosts started the livelier and the attacking midfield trio of Simão Sabrosa, Luís Figo and Rui Costa contrived to cause problems for the Swedish defence with their fluency and rapid passing. Yet it was the guests who went ahead in the 16th minute in bizarre fashion. Källström fired in a low free-kick from 30 metres which Ricardo moved to save, only to take his eye off the ball - which somehow ricocheted into the net off his head.

Portugal reacted positively and were soon placing the Swedes under pressure. Pauleta, of Paris Saint-Germain FC, hit the post in the 22nd minute after some clever work by Figo, who then won a penalty after being felled by Andreas Johansson. The Real Madrid CF player took it himself, although his spot-kick lacked both the precision and power to beat Andreas Isaksson, who got down well to gather it at the second attempt.

Portugal were finally rewarded for their attacking endeavour in the 33rd minute when Pauleta pounced. Rui Costa created the goal, his shot striking Mjällby on the back and falling kindly to Pauleta, who equalised with an assured finish. The second half saw a flurry of substitutions and initially chances were at a premium. Scolari shifted from 4-5-1 to 4-4-2, allowing wingers Luís Boa Morte and Cristiano Ronaldo the freedom to search for openings which never materialsed.

Sweden regained the lead as time ticked by. Wilhelmsson, lively throughout, raced down the left flank, outstripped a defender and cut the ball back from the by-line where Rui Jorge turned it in while attempting to clear. But the Scandinavians were denied an impressive triumph as full time beckoned when Nuno Gomes skilfully headed in Ronaldo's centre.



PSG claim place in the French Cup Final

Paris Saint-Germain FC will take on second division side LB Châteauroux in the French Cup final on 29 May at the Stade de France.

PSG remained on course for their sixth French Cup triumph but but only made it through against FC Nantes Atlantique 4-3 on spot-kicks after the first 120 minutes produced a 1-1 draw. In the other semi-final third division side Dijon FC d'Or were beaten 2-0 by LB Châteauroux, who now look likely for an unlikely European debut in next season's UEFA Cup.

Last year's beaten finalists Nantes, who also lost in the League Cup final against FC Sochaux Montbéliard on penalties eleven days ago, fell behind against PSG on 50 minutes when Fabrice Fiorèse turned in a ball from Juan Pablo Sorin. However, in the second minute of added time Nantes defender Mario Yepes headed his side level.

Neither the final seconds of normal time nor the additional 30 minutes produced a winning goal. It seemed the shoot-out was heading Nantes' way when Mikael Landreau saved early on. But first Frédéric Da Rocha was denied by PSG goalkeeper Lionel Létizi and although Bernard Mendy's effort was saved by Landreau, two Nantes penalties were struck over the bar leaving Modeste M'Bami to convert the capital side's winning kick.

The victory keeps PSG's double hopes on course, as they trail Olympique Lyonnais by only three point in Ligue 1 with five games left, looking odds-on to clinch one of France's three UEFA Champions League berths.

Nantes : Landreau - Yepes, Armand, Delhommeau, Guillon (Ateba, 23e) - Yapi Yapo (Toulalan, 79e), Berson, Da Rocha, Fae - Moldovan (N'Zigou, 53e), Vahirua. Entr. : Amisse.

PSG : Letizi - Déhu, Heinze, Mendy, Pierre-Fanfan - Cana, Fiorèse (Touré, 84e), M'Bami, Sorin - Ljuboja (Hugo Leal, 79e), Reinaldo (Cubilier, 88e). Entr. : Halilhodzic.

Goal(s) : Yepes (93e) pour Nantes ; Fiorèse (50e) pour PSG


Tuesday, April 27, 2004 

League Standings

Pos. Team Pld Pts
1. Porto 32 79
2. Sporting 32 70
3. Benfica 32 70
4. Nacional 32 53
5. Braga 32 48
11. Beira-Mar 32 38
18. Est. Amadora 32 17


Pos. Team Pld Pts
1. Lyon 33 69
2. PSG 33 66
3. Monaco 33 65
4. Auxerre 33 57
5. Souchaux 33 57

Pos. Team Pld Pts
1. Ajax 31 71
2. PSV 21 65
3. Feyenoord 31 62
4. Alkmaar 31 56
5. Heerenveen 31 55
9. Utrecht 31 43

Pos. Team Pld Pts
1. Fenerbahçe 31 70
2. Trabzonspor 31 68
3. Besiktas 31 62
4. Denizlispor 31 54
5. Gaziantepspor 31 51

Pos. Team Pld Pts
1. Bremen 30 68
2. Bayern 30 62
3. Stuttgart 30 60
4. Leverkusen 30 55
5. Bochum 30 49
8. Hamburg 30 42

Pos. Team Pld Pts
1. Anderlecht 31 74
2. Club Brugge 31 63
3. Standard Liege 31 61
4. Mouscron 31 55
5. Genk 31 53


Pos. Team Pld Pts
1. Valencia 34 71
2. Real Madrid 34 70
3. Barcelona 34 66
4. Deportivo 34 62
5. Athletic 34 52

Pos. Team Pld Pts
1. Milan 31 76
2. Roma 31 70
3. Juventus 31 63
4. Inter 31 53
5. Lazio 31 52

Torneo Clausura

Pos. Team Pld Pts
1. Boca Jrs 11 27
2. River Plate 11 23
3. Talleres 11 23
4. Racing 11 22
5. Velez Sarsfield 11 21


Pos. Team Pld Pts
1. Figueirense 2 6
2. Góias 2 4
3. Cruzeiro 2 4
4. Ponte Preta 2 4
5. São Paulo 2 4
24. Botafogo 2 0

Monday, April 26, 2004 

Santos 2-0 Botafogo

Botafogo lost their second game in the Brasileirão, and immediatly after the end of the game, Botafogo coach, Levir Culpi announced his resignation from the Alvinegros. According to Culpi, the deception in the Brazilian Cup, the insucess in the Rio Championship, an the two straight defeats in the National Championship were more than enough reason to leave the team, when there is still time to turn things around.

SANTOS: Júlio Sérgio, Paulo César (Preto Casagrande), Alex, Alcides (Pereira) e Léo; Claiton, Renato, Diego e Elano; Robinho e Leandro Machado (Lopes). Técnico: Émerson Leão

BOTAFOGO: Jefferson, Rodrigo Fernandes (Márcio Gomes), Sandro, Gustavo e Jorginho; Túlio, Fernando, Carlos Alberto e Têti (Valdo); Almir e Luizão (Daniel).Técnico: Levir Culpi

GOALS: 1-0, Diego (55min), 2-0, Diego (72min).


River Plate 1-1 Gimnasia y Esgrima

RIVER PLATE: Costanzo; Ariel Garcé, Cristian Nasuti, Ricardo Rojas, Juan Fernández (Kilian Vivriescas); Eduardo Coudet (Maxi Lopez), Javier Mascherano, Luis González; Daniel Montenegro; Fernando Cavenaghi, José Sand (Marcelo Gallardo).

GIMNASIA: Juan Carlos Olave; Nelson Olivera, Diego Herner, Marcelo Goux, Lucas Licht; Martín Pautasso, Juan Pietravallo, Andrés Yllana, Gonzalo Choy (Scotti); Cristian Castillo (German Castillo), Luis Rueda (Barlet).

GOALS: ST 39m 8-Germán Castillo (G), 43m Maxi López (R).


Aranzubia puts pen to paper

Goalkeeper Daniel Aranzubia has extended his contract with Athletic Club Bilbao until June 2008.

Four-year extension
Aranzubia, a product of Athletic's youth system, has added four years to his existing contract following negotiations at the weekend. He can boost his salary on the basis of matches played but no wage increase was included in the deal.

'Great year'
The 24-year-old is thought to be in Spain coach Iñaki Sáez's plans. Clearly delighted with the way the season has gone, Aranzubia told "It has been a great year both for me and for the club. We are fighting for a place in the UEFA Cup and it would be fantastic to end the season on a high."



Athletic 1-1 Valencia

In Valencia's meeting with fifth-placed Bilbao at San Mamés, Jorge López was fortunate to squeeze a penalty under goalkeeper Daniel Aranzubia for the opener in the 14th minute. Asier del Horno equalised for the Basque side on the half-hour, escaping his marker at a free-kick to head in. Both teams had chances to take all three points but neither could apply the decisive finish.

Athletic Club: Aranzubia; Javi González, Lacruz, Karanka, Del Horno (Larrazabal, min.40); Iraola (Arriaga, min.68), Orbaiz, Gurpegui, Yeste; Joseba Etxeberria y Urzaiz.
Valencia CF: Cañizares; Curro Torres, Ayala, Navarro, Garrido; Marchena (Baraja, min.81), Sissoko; Angulo, Jorge López, Vicente (Xisco, min.83); y Oliveira (Rufete, min.70).
GOALS: 0-1, min.13: Jorge López, de penalti. 1-1, min.30: Del Horno.



Udinese 0-0 AC Milan

Milan did not manage to beat Udinese, with the match at the Friuli stadium ending in a goalless draw. Despite maintaining a clear lead at the top of the table, the Rossoneri see title-challengers and next opposition Roma reduce their gap to six points, following to their 3-0 victory at Empoli. On the other hand, Udinese, who have been the only team who have defeated Carlo Ancelotti's men this season, confirmed their good qualities and the ability to make things difficult for the opponents thanks to a concrete and stubborn performance.

Still deprived of injured Pippo Inzaghi, Kahka Kaladze and Pippo Pancaro, Ancelotti fielded Marcos Cafu and Billy Costacurta, who celebrated his 38th birthday on Saturday, to complete a four-man defence along with half-backs Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Nesta. Massimo Ambrosini had what was a rare start this season, and joined Gennaro Gattuso and Andrea Pirlo in midfield. Clarence Seedorf played behind attacking duo Andriy Shevchenko and Kaka.
Luciano Spalletti responded with an offensive team as well, trusting Pizarro as main creator of the build-up. On the flanks room for Jankulovski and Alberto, with Vincenzo Iaquinta and Martin Jorgensen to support lone striker Dino Fava.

The game got off to a bright start as on three minutes, Iaquinta climbed at the back post to head a Jorgensen cross goalward but the ball dropped down for Nelson Dida to gather. Milan went down the other end and Costacurta floated a cross from the right for Kaka to volley into the path of Shevchenko but from just inside the area the striker mishit his shot and the danger was cleared.
The Rossoneri were soon going forward again and this time it was Gattuso who led the charge with a great run to the edge of the home area before being fouled. Pirlo then saw his low curling free-kick just miss the post. Udinese were finding it difficult to get within shooting range of Dida's goal and a mix-up between Fava and Iaquinta summed up their confusion in the first 20 minutes.
The game seemed to come to life each time Kaka touched the ball. On 24 minutes the young Brazilian drifted away from two markers in the area but was forced wide by goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis and his low shot went into the side-netting. Dida was called into action on 33 minutes when he easily gathered a rising shot 25-metre shot from Alberto. There was a moment of danger for the visitors just before the break, when Udinese were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area, but Dida got down to save a low and powerful Jankulovski dead-ball effort.

Ancelotti made no changes at half time but Milan continued to pressure the Udinese goal in the early stage. On 47 minutes, Seedorf chipped the ball to the right side of the area for Sheva who volleyed well over the bar. A minute later, Iaquinta sent a free-kick well wide from the edge of the penalty area after Fava had been fouled by Maldini. Kaka was once again a source of danger for the home defenders as he skipped past a number of tackles only to see his floated cross cleared for a corner. Bertotto then went into the book for a body-check as the 'Golden Boy' broke from midfield.
It was again Kaka who had the crowd on their feet on 59 minutes as he flicked the ball away from two markers on the halfway then leaving the defence in his wake before evading a tackle and sending a low shot from the edge of the area just past the post. The hosts were being forced further back into their own half and on 63 minutes Shevchenko managed to turn a ball back to the edge of the area for Ambrosini to chip the ball to Kaka but his cross-shot just floated away from Seedorf. Moments later Kaka just failed to control a pass inside the area and Udinese managed to scramble the ball away for a corner.
Pirlo chipped a precise ball over the defence but from a tight angle Cafu could only fire into the side-netting. On 69 minutes, Ancelotti reverted to a two-man attack as Jon Dahl Tomasson replaced Seedorf but still could not find a way through the home defence.
As the game entered the final ten minutes, Manuel Rui Costa replaced Kaka and the Portugal international was soon in the game with a number of neat passes and two minutes into added time he ghosted into the area but could not keep his powerful shot down. Milan almost grabbed all three points in the final moments as the ball dropped to Tomasson in the area but his his curling left-footed shot was deflected behind for a corner. The big clash with Roma next week will therefore be crucial for the Rossoneri.

UDINESE: De Sanctis; Bertotto, Kroldrup, Felipe; Alberto, Pizarro, Muntari (67' Rossitto), Jankulovski; Iaquinta, Jorgensen (87' Pierini); Fava (74' Castroman). Subs: Renard, Sensini, Asamoah, Jancker. Coach: Spalletti.
MILAN: Dida; Cafu, Nesta, Maldini, Costacurta; Gattuso (90+2' Brocchi), Pirlo, Ambrosini; Seedorf (78' Tomasson), Kaka (80' Rui Costa); Shevchenko. Subs: Abbiati, Simic, Serginho, Borriello. Coach: Ancelotti.
REFEREE: De Santis
YELLOW CARDS: 52' Bertotto (U), 71' Jankulovski (U), 77' Cafu (M)
ADDED TIME: 1' f.h.; 5' s.h.


Besiktas 1 - 3 Fenerbahçe

Three rapidly created goals earned us a 3-1 derby win over Beþiktaþ in the Ýnönü Stadium tonight. Serhat`s double and Tuncay`s display of resiliance handed us this crucial victory.
Christoph Daum slightly changed his approach for the game, by pulling back Pierre van Hooijdonk to utilise his exceptional passing ability and combine it with the sprints of Tuncay Þanlý, Marcio Nobre and Serhat Akýn.

The game stopped within a minute for an injury to Fatih Akyel, which led to his collapse on the pitch. An object launched from the crowd seemed to have hit Fatih.

Fabio Luciano and Stjepan Tomas`s timing in their tackles were admirable from the go. The midfield worked hard and it seemed captain Ümit Özat had upped his form specifically for the derby, making great tackles and spreading the play well.

It was obvious we were looking to break on the counter, and we got our first real chance with Nobre, who failed to hit a threatening shot on goal in the 14th minute.

Sergen Yalçýn`s sharp turn on Tomas wasn`t matched by his shot, as it went over a little while later.

With just over half an hour gone, van Hooijdonk`s clever chipped pass to Luciano was followed by the Brazilian turning the ball in before it went out to the oncoming Serhat who headed in from the goal line. Appeals were made for a foul on Cordoba who had come out to get the initial ball.

Thirteen minutes into the second half the second goal was scored to put the pressure on our rivals. Captain Ümit was to be credited for a great tackle on Federico Giunti then an equally good pass to Serhat, who controlled and hit into the roof of the net, 2-0.

Only two minutes later Tuncay shrugged off synical challenges from Antonio Zago and then Oscar Cordoba to score from a narrowing angle with his left foot.

The third goal effectively killed off the game and the tempo dropped considerably. A silent Ýnönü Stadium did nothing for Beþiktaþ but substitute Okan Koç created and scored their consollation goal in the 89th minute.

With only three games left the title race is still on with Trabzonspor breathing down on our neck, only two points behind us.

Fenerbahçe: Volkan Demirel, Fatih Akyel (47` Fatih Akyel), Fabio Luciano, Stjepan Tomas, Ali Güneþ, Ümit Özat, Marco Aurelio, Serhat Akýn (90` Mehmet Yozgatlý), Tuncay Þanlý, Marcio Nobre (85` Sergei Rebrov), Pierre van Hooijdonk

Besiktas: Cordoba, Zago, Ahmet Yýldýrým, Yasin (Ilie dk. 59 ), Giunti, Kaan Dobra (Okan dk. 68 ), Pancu, Ýbrahim, Tümer, Sergen, Serdar

Goals: 32`, 58` Serhat Akýn, 60` Tuncay Þanlý (Fenerbahçe), 89` Ilie (Besiktas)




U. Leiria, 1 - Sporting, 0

Place: Estádio Municipal Magalhães Pessoa
Referee: António Costa (Setúbal)

U. LEIRIA: Helton, Renato, João Paulo, Edson, Nelson (Laranjeiro, 73m), Tiago (Paulo Gomes, 85m), Otacílio, Alhandra, Filipe Teixeira, Hugo Almeida (Maurito, 79m) e Douala.
Coach: Vítor Pontes.
Yellow card to Nelson (18m), Renato (27m), Otacílio (67m) e Hugo Almeida (71m)
Goal: Alhandra (50m)

SPORTING: Ricardo, Miguel Garcia (Carlos Martins, 71m), Polga, Quiroga, Paíto, Tinga, Paulo Bento (Clayton, 84m), Tello (Lourenço, 55m), Silva, João Pinto e Liedson.
Coach: Fernando Santos.
Yellow Card: Paulo Bento (17m), Paíto (72m), Polga (74m), Quiroga (80m) e Lourenço (90m)


Real Madrid 1 - 2 Barcelona

FC Barcelona moved to within four points of second-placed Real Madrid CF in the Primera División on Sunday night thanks to their first triumph at the Santiago Bernabéu since November 1997.

Barça's victory put the Catalan side firmly in the race for the title with four matches remaining and provided Ronaldinho with a worthy stage to showcase his skills in the absence of his injured Madrid compatriot Ronaldo. Xavi, Roberto Carlos and Ronaldinho all went close to breaking the deadlock in the first half but it was not until the 53rd minute that Santiago Solari finally opened the scoring with an angled shot from inside the box.

Barça were soon back on level terms when Giovanni van Bronckhorst lobbed a cross over Iker Casillas and Kluivert was in the perfect position to bury a header. Ten minutes later, however, former Azulgrana favourite Luís Figo collected a second booking and received his marching orders. The visitors immediately sought to capitalise on the numerical advantage and Xavi clinched the winner in the 86th minute after exchanging passes with Ronaldinho.



PSG 2 - 1 Marseille

A double strike from Pedro Pauleta fired Paris Saint-Germain FC to a 2-1 win against Olympique de Marseille on Sunday and lifted the capital club up into second place in Ligue 1 for only the second time this season.

A run of just one defeat in 20 league matches has seen PSG, who at one stage languished in 17th position, hurtle up the standings to within three points of leaders Olympique Lyonnais with five matches remaining. Their latest victory, the 19th of PSG's campaign, came courtesy of a Pauleta goal at the start of each half. Laurent Battles scored for the visitors a minute from time but it proved nothing more than a consolation for Marseille, who remain in sixth position.

PSG : Letizi - Déhu, Heinze, Mendy, Pierre-Fanfan - Fiorèse (Hugo Leal, 84e), M'Bami, Sorin, Cana - Ljuboja (Reinaldo, 80e), Pauleta (Boskovic, 88e). Entr. : Halilhodzic.

Marseille : Barthez - Dos Santos, Ferreira, Meïte, Beye - Meriem, N'Diaye, Flamini, Hemdani (Ecker, 21e) - Drogba, Koke (Battles, 60e). Entr. : Anigo.

Goals: Pauleta (12e), Pauleta (61e) for PSG; Battles (91e) for Marseille



Benfica 3 - 1 E. Amadora

Benfica, went level with Sporting on 70 points after a 3-1 home defeat of CF Estrela da Amadora. Nuno Gomes, Tomislav Sokota and Luís Miguel were all on target for the home side. Sporting and Benfica meet next week in a match which should decide the recipient of the coveted second Champions League spot.


Sunday, April 25, 2004 

Nerazzurri stay fourth (Inter 0 - Lazio 0)

MILAN - Inter and Lazio played out a 0-0 draw at the San Siro on Sunday afternoon. With Parma held by Reggina in Reggio Calabria, the Nerazzurri remain fourth in the Serie A ahead of next weekend's trip to Lecce.

INTER: 12 Fontana, 2 Cordoba, 4 J. Zanetti , 10 Adriano, 11 Stankovic, 13 Helveg, 14 Farinos (5 Emre 47'), 17 Cannavaro, 18 Kily Gonzalez (26 Pasquale 87'), 23 Materazzi, 32 Vieri (30 Martins 57')
Subs not used: 1 Toldo, 8 Lamouchi, 9 Cruz, 24 Gamarra
Coach: Alberto Zaccheroni

LAZIO: 1 Peruzzi, 4 Albertini (6 Dabo 84'), 5 Zauri, 7 Lopez (21 S. Inzaghi 77'), 9 Corradi, 11 Mihajlovic, 14 Fiore, 16 Giannichedda, 19 Favalli, 22 Oddo, 31 Stam
Subs not used: 33 Sereni, 2 Colonnese, 8 Cesar, 24 Couto
Coach: Roberto Mancini

Referee: Pierluigi Collina (Viareggio)
Booked: Farinos 39', Cordoba 83', Mihajlovic 85', Giannichedda 90'



RBC Roosendaal 0 - 3 PSV

PSV have taken another important step in consolidating the crucial second place in the table by coasting to a comfortable 0-3 win over RBC Roosendaal in a rather one-sided game that never really sparked off. The gloss of the victory was taken off by an injury that Kezman sustained.

Ooijer was given a place in the heart of defence, after having been on the sidelines for over four months and Lucius was also included as right full back in the starting line-up. After a tentative opening, in which RBC got a few opportunities, PSV took the initiative. They were on top on 12 minutes, just when the minute before RBC striker Youssouf had failed to pounce on a great a chance. De Jong took a corner, which was not cleared too well by the RBC defence. The ball fell to Van Bommel, who popped up just in time and unleashed an effort from some 20 yards that struck home. On 22 minutes PSV doubled the advantage. Park latched unto a long ball and set up Lucius, who was sent crashing by RBC keeper Aerts 22. Kezman took the penalty and the striker converted, although the poor state of the pitch nearly played tricks on him. It was the 99th league goal that Kezman scored in PSV service and PSV had virtually wrapped up the game.

After the break RBC surged forwards, knowing they had nothing to lose, but they never threatened and the PSV defence calmly held on. Ten minutes into the second half Kezman was stretchered off the pitch. When he attempted to round his marker, he was elbowed in the chest and he fell down in agony. Kezman was taken to hospital and Johan Vonlanthen left the bench. One of the few highlights of the second half was a superb long-distance effort by Park that bounced off the crossbar. On 86 minutes Addo was brought on to replace Lucius. Vennegoor of Hesselink failed to tap home from close range, when he missed a Rommedahl cross by an inch, but one minute later Rommedahl himself outpaced his marker and at the near post the Danish international winger surprised keeper Aerts, who expected a cross.

So PSV have maintained a three-point lead over rivals Feyenoord and with three games to go (away at FC Volendam, at home against ADO Den Haag and away at AZ) they stand a fair chance of qualifying for the UCL qualifying games.

Goals: Van Bommel 13´; Kezman 22´; Rommedahl 88´



Bundesliga round 30: HSV 4 - 2 Cologne

HSV won three valuable points to move within one point of 7th-placed Schalke in the Bundesliga table by way of a 4-2 win over bottom-placed club Cologne in the AOL Arena this afternoon. The result doesn't really do the visitors justice because Cologne was easily the better side in the first half, so much so...that they could have been four goals up at the break.

HSV: Wächter - Wicky, Ujfalusi, Reinhardt (31. Benjamin), Fukal - Rahn, Schlicke Jarolim, Mahdavikia - Romeo (73. Hleb), Barbarez (73. Cardoso)

Cologne: Wessels - Schröder, Dogan, Sinkiewicz, Voigt (60. Feulner) - Kringe, Frederico (60. Streit), Grujic, Sinkala - Scherz (75. Springer) - Podolski

Goals: 0:1 Rahn (40.), 1:1 Podolski (43.), 2:1 Barbarez (52.), 3:1 Jarolim (64.), 4:1 Fukal (69.), 4:2 Springer (83.)


Friday, April 23, 2004 

Iceland ready for Latvian test

Iceland coaches Ásgeir Sigurvinsson and Logi Ólafsson (picture) have named a 22-man party for the friendly international against UEFA EURO 2004™ finalists Latvia in Riga on 28 April.

Tough test
Sigurvinsson and Ólafsson will use the friendly as preparation for a tough FIFA World Cup qualifying section. Iceland have been drawn in Group 8, alongside Bulgaria, Sweden and Croatia – who will all play in this summer's EURO 2004™ tournament in Portugal – with Hungary and Malta making up the section.

Iceland squad
Arason, Finnbogason, Grétarsson, Hreidarsson, H Sigurdsson, T Gudjónsson, B Gunnarsson, Gudmundsson, Vidarsson, Marteinsson, Gudjohnsen, Helguson, J Gudjonsson, Bjarnason, I Sigurdsson, B Gudjonsson, Ingimarsson, Baldvinsson, Einarsson, Jónsson, Gunnarsson, K Sigurdsson.

Other news in icelandic football:
- Fram Reykjavík striker Thorbjorn Atli Sveinsson has signed a three-year contract with Fylkir. The 26-year-old forward scored 28 goals in 106 games from Fram either side of a two-year spell with Danish side Brøndby IF.
- Another player on the move in Iceland is KR Reykjavík winger Einar Thór Daníelsson, who has agreed a one-year contract with ÍBV Vestmannaeyjar. The 34-year-old joins defender Jon Skaftason, striker Magnus Mar Ludviksson and American Mark Schulte at his new club. "I am glad to sign him up and he will be useful," said ÍBV coach Magnús Gylfason. "We had plans to strengthen our team and we have done so."


Tuesday, April 20, 2004 

FC Barcelona 3 - Malaga 0

Barça put in a sparkling performance at the Nou Camp on Sunday night to beat Malaga 3-0 and move into third spot in the league, just 7 points off the leaders.

A scintillating first half display saw Rijkaard's men go in 3 up after 45 minutes in which Luis Garcia and Saviola cut swathes through the Malaga defence. The second half was a quieter affair, but Barça always controlled possession and never looked really troubled.

Although Malaga started the brighter, Barça were soon creating chances and on 7 minutes, Ronaldinho put Luis Garcia in alone on the keeper, but Catalayud in the Malaga goal stopped well. Four minutes later, the Malaga keeper was again called on this time to stop a Cocu header from a Van Bronkhorst cross.

Rijkaard's team now started to dominate and on 13 minutes Ronaldinho came close with a shot the keeper just tipped wide.

Saviola's 11th goal of the campaign came on 18 minutes when he combined brilliantly with Luis Garcia to carve open the Malaga defence. Five minutes later, scorer turned provider as the young Argentinean sent Luis Garcia through for a cracking second goal. Diego Alonso then came close with a header for Malaga, but Barça were rampant, with Ronaldinho, Saviola and Luis Garcia looking likely to score again at any moment. In fact it was Cocu who got the third after Luis Garcia and Xavi combined on the right and the Dutch midfielder fired home from the edge of the box.

Bad news for Rijkaard came when Puyol was forced off with a muscle injury that could see him out of next week's big game against Madrid. Marquez came on to cover at the back.

As expected, Andrés Iniesta came on at half time for Edgar Davids, who was just one yellow card away from suspension and the youngster was soon in the action setting up Saviola and Luis Garcia with good chances. Although the rhythm dropped off in the second half, there were still chances for more goals.

On 78 Josemi saved Malaga from a fourth when he just got in ahead of Cocu after good work from Ronaldinho. Two minutes later, Valdes was called on to make his first important intervention to stop a Leko free kick and in injury time, Saviola failed to put away a chance when he was one on one with the keeper.



River Plate 2 - San Lorenzo 1

River Plate: 17-Franco Costanzo, 14-Ariel Garcé, 21-Horacio Ameli, 25-Eduardo Tuzzio, 5-Juan Fernández (13-Ricardo Rojas, 33' 2H), 8-Eduardo Coudet (24-Gabriel Pereyra, 29' 2H), 15-Javier Mascherano, 24-Luis González, 10-Daniel Montenegro (23-Maxi López, 16' 2H), 20-José Sand, 9-Fernando Cavenaghi

San Lorenzo: 1-José Ramírez, 4-Aldo Paredes, 2-Gonzalo Rodríguez, 6-Diego Capria, 3-Claudio Morel (32-Walter García, 44' 2H), 33-Pablo Zabaleta, 16-Alexis Cabrera, 14-Jonathan Santana (24-Peirone, 21' 2H), 10-Leandro Romagnoli, 16-Ariel Carreño, 7-Rodrigo Astudillo (30-Montillo, 21' 2H).

Goals: L. González (17', 2H)), 24m Carreño (Gabriel Pereyra, 24'), 41m Maxi López (R)

Yellow cards: Tuzzio, Mascherano, Capria, Ameli (R), Zabaleta, Maxi López.



FC Utrecht 0 - Feyenoord 3

FC Utrecht: Terol, Lamey (70. Calabro), Zwaanswijk, Schut (76. Keller), Shew-Atjon, Zuidam (70. Leitoe), Bosschaart, Broerse Van den Bergh, Tanghe, Van de Haar.

Feyenoord: Zoetebier, Song, Van den Berg, Paauwe, Mtiliga, Smolarek (82. Van Persie), Ghaly, Ono, Lurling, Buffel, Kuijt.



Beira Mar 0 - FC Porto 0

SC Beira-Mar: Debenest; Ribeiro, Zeman (Saúl, 25'), Alcaráz, Diogo Luís, Kata, Levato, Juninho, Gamboa (Marcelinho, 66'), Kingsley, João Paulo (Wijnhard, 77').

FC Porto: Nuno; Secretário (Paulo Ferreira, 45'), Ricardo Carvalho, Pedro Emanuel, Ricardo Costa, Bosingwa, Pedro Mendes, Ricardo Fernandes, Maniche (Deco, 45'), Marco Ferreira (McCarthy, 72') e Maciel.

Yellow cards: Levato (42') e Juninho (72'); Secretário (11'), Maniche (44'), Ricardo Carvalho (89').

Sunday, April 18, 2004 

Boavista 1 - Sporting 2

Boavista: William, Paulo Turra (Ali, 81'), Ricardo Silva, Éder, Frechaut, Martelinho, Mário Loja (Filipe Anunciação, 55'), Raul Meireles, Vítor Borges (Fary, 63'), Ricardo Sousa e Cafu
Coach: Jaime Pacheco
Subs not used: Khadim, Jorge Silva, Hélder Calviño e Hugo Monteiro
Yellow cards: Fary (67'), Paulo Turra (68')
Goals: Frechaut (82') e Fary (87')

Sporting: Ricardo, Miguel Garcia, Polga, Beto, Rui Jorge, Paulo Bento, Tinga (Niculae, 86'), Pedro Barbosa, João Pinto (Tello, 75'), Silva (Rui Bento, 81') e Liedson
Coach: Fernando Santos
Subs not used: Nelson, Quiroga, Toñito e Lourenço
Yellow cards: Miguel Garcia (38'), Pedro Barbosa (41', 90+2'), Beto (50'), Rui Jorge (70', 76') e Liedson (74').
Red cards: Rui Jorge (76'), Pedro Barbosa (90+2')
Goal: Liedson (59m)



Siena 1 - AC Milan 2

Milan came away from the Franchi stadium in Siena with an important three points that takes the Rossoneri to 75 points and a step closer to the title. A Kaka header on 80 minutes sealed the victory after an Enrico Chiesa penalty had cancelled out Andriy Shevchenko's opener.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti fielded a 4-3-2-1 formation after Filippo Inzaghi and Jon Dahl Tomasson were ruled out, leaving Shevchenko as the lone striker supported by Kaka and Rui Costa. However, Alessandro Nesta returned to the line-up after recovering from injury while Massimo Ambrosini came into midfield in the place of Clarence Seedorf. Milan started in bright fashion when Shevchenko broke free and the striker's cut-back found Kaka who saw his drive cleared by Leandro Cufre, with goalkeeper Marco Fortin beaten.

On a wet and slippery pitch, Dida was tested twice from long range by Enrico Chiesa but it was Milan that broke the deadlock after 26 minutes as Rui Costa hit a low shot from the edge of the area only for Fortin to push the ball into Sheva's path and the Ukrainian gleefully side-footed home from close range for his 21st Serie A goal of the season. Moments later, the striker almost made it two but this time Fortin was able to turn away a header at the back post.

Kaka then tested the 'keeper from 20 metres but luckily for Fortin he was able to block with his feet and then gather the loose ball. Siena drew level on 36 minutes when Shevchenko leapt with the rest of the wall at a free-kick on the edge of the area and Chiesa's drive hit the forward on the elbow leaving referee Pierluigi Collina to point for a penalty. Chiesa then stepped up to send Dida the wrong way.

Milan, however, were straight back on the attack and Ambrosini sent a header over the bar just before the break. Ancelotti made no changes at half-time and Milan continued to press forward, with Andrea Pirlo sending a powerful first-time effort from 25 metres just over the bar, then Sheva saw a low shot go wide of the post following an excellent pass from Rui Costa. Fortin was under pressure again on the hour-mark when Rino Gattuso ran from deep and fired in a stinging drive which the 'keeper parried.

On 72 minutes, Ancelotti sent on Marco Borriello for Rui Costa and moments later Sheva slipped as he was about to shoot. Siena were reduced to ten men on 79 minutes when Simone Vergassola received a second yellow card for a trip on Kaka. A minute later, Milan were in the lead as Borriello dived to head-on a Pirlo corner and Kaka reacted quickly to send his own diving header into the net from five metres. The Rossoneri controlled the game from then and Gattuso went close with another powerful shot. There was one moment of tension in the Milan area when subsitute Nicola Lazetic curled a shot over the bar and at the other end Borriello saw a close-range effort deflected just wide.

Goalscorers: 26’ Shevchenko (M), 38’ Chiesa su rigore (S), 80' Kakà (M)

SIENA: Fortin; Cirillo (38’st Menegazzo), Juarez, Mignani, Cufrè; Taddei, Vergassola, D'Aversa, Guigou; Flo (28’st Lazetic), Chiesa (33’st Ventola).
Coach: Papadopulo
Subs not used: Farelli, Junior, Lazetic, Cucciari, Argilli, Menegazzo, Ventola

MILAN: Dida, Cafu, Nesta, Maldini, Costacurta; Gattuso (44’st Brocchi), Pirlo, Ambrosini; Rui Costa (28’st Borriello), Kakà (39’st Serginho); Shevchenko. Coach: Ancelotti
Subs not used: Abbiati, Laursen, Simic, Brocchi, Seedorf, Serginho, Borriello.

Referee: Collina Yellow cards: 36’ Pirlo (M), 46’, 79' Vergassola (S), 86' Borriello Red cards: 79' Vergassola for second yellow card Added-time: 2’fh, 5’sh



SM Caen 1 - PSG 2 (friendly match)

SM Caen: Elana – Seube, Ben Askar, M’Beng, Zubar - Bakour, Deroin , Lemaïtre - Sarr, Watier, Mazure.
Coach: P. Remy.

PSG: Letizi (Benhamou, 70e) – Cubilier (Mendy, 46e), El-Karkouri (Déhu, 46e), Pierre-Fanfan (Sorin, 46e), Heinze (Badiane, 60e) – Rocchi (M’Bami, 46e) – Hugo Leal (Traoré, 46e), Benachour (Fiorèse, 46e), Boskovic (Cubilier, 80e) – Touré (Ljuboja, 46e puis (Djadjedje, 65e), Reinaldo (Pauleta, 46e).
Coach: V. Halilhodzic.

Stade municipal de Deauville.
Referee: M. Huguenin.
Goals: Grougi (91'); Hugo Leal (27'), Pauleta (90').


PSV 3 - NEC 0

PSV did not put up a great display in the league game against NEC in the Eindhoven Philips Stadium on Saturday night, but they grabbed all three points by clinical finishing.



Sp. Braga 0 - Benfica 3 (FU derby)

Sporting de Braga – Quim (cap.); Pedro Costa, Nem, Maurício (Wender 45’) e Éder; Castanheira (Miguel 81’), Frederick, Paulo Jorge e Paulo Sérgio; Nikolov (Wooter 57’) e Pena.
Coach: Jesualdo Ferreira.

Benfica – Moreira; Armando, Luisão, Ricardo Rocha e Fyssas (Cristiano 87’); Miguel, Petit, Manuel Fernandes; Simão (cap.) (João Pereira 78’), Nuno Gomes e Sokota (Zahovic 82’).
Treinador: José Antonio Camacho.

Goals: Miguel (2’), Sokota (23’) e Simão (30’).
Yellow cards: Pedro Costa (17’), Fyssas (21’), Nikolov (25’), Éder (29’), Simão (47’) e Petit (77’).



Fenerbahçe 1 - Samsunspor 0


Inter cruise past Bologna to go fourth (Inter 4 - Bologna 2)

MILAN - Inter put the midweek Uefa Cup exit behind them with a 4-2 victory over Bologna on Sunday afternoon. The morale-boosting result sees the Nerazzurri move fourth in the Serie A as Parma were held at home to Juventus.

Recoba combined with Adriano to fire Zaccheroni's men into the lead in the 33rd minute. The Brazilian wriggled free of two opponents on the left then sent a pin-point cross in for the Uruguayan to place past Pagliuca from the edge of the six-yard box.

Forced off the pitch in the final minutes of the first half due to a calf injury, Il Chino was replaced by Obafemi Martins, who played a pivotal role in the second period.

After Fabio Cannavaro stole in at the near post to head home Kily's right-wing corner in the 53rd minute, the Nigerian forward received from Adriano in the middle of the Bologna area and unselfishly passed to the unmarked Stankovic, who slotted home from seven yards to put Inter 3-0 up.

Bologna pulled one back on 68 minutes through substitute Bellucci, who beat Brechet before sending an angled shot past Toldo and in at the far post, then three minutes later Martins restored Inter's three-goal advantage with a magnificent solo effort. After meeting an Adriano pass, the Nigerian turned Moretti then beat Pagliuca with a clinical finish from nine yards out.

Bologna weren't finished and Bellucci grabbed his second on 77 minutes with a low volley past Toldo after a pass from Locatelli, but it wasn't enough to stop Inter from registering their fifth consecutive Serie A win.

The Nerazzurri entertain Lazio in Week 31 of the championship next Sunday.

Match facts:
Scorers: Recoba 33', Cannavaro 53', Stankovic 55', Bellucci 68', 77', Martins 71'
Booked: Nervo 22', Dalla Bona 28', Natali 89'
Referee: Tombolini

INTER: 1 Toldo, 2 Cordoba, 4 J. Zanetti , 10 Adriano (8 Lamouchi 85'), 11 Stankovic, 13 Helveg, 14 Farinos, 15 Adani (31 Brechet 66'), 17 Cannavaro, 18 Kily Gonzalez, 20 Recoba (30 Martins 45'+2')
Subs not used: 12 Fontana, 9 Cruz, 26 Pasquale, 29 Biava
Coach: Alberto Zaccheroni

BOLOGNA: 1 Pagliuca, 5 Moretti, 7 Nervo, 8 Dalla Bona, 10 Signori (20 Locatelli 69'), 14 Natali, 16 Nakata, 17 Tare, 21 Colucci (11 Bellucci 46'), 23 Sussi, 25 Gamberini
Subs not used: 12 Manninger, 2 Zaccardo, 31 Meghni, 34 Loviso, 35 Pecchia
Coach: Carlo Mazzone


Monday, April 12, 2004 

Çaykur Rizespor 1 - Fenerbahçe 0

Fenerbahçe's 1-0 defeat to Çaykur Rizespor followed by Trabzonspor`s win and Beşiktaş`s draw meant the six point lead at the top of the table was reduced to four at the end of Week 29.
Striker Saffet Akyüz's solitary 87th-minute goal settled the game.


Sunday, April 11, 2004 

Perugia 2 - Inter 3

Karagounis and Adriano celebrate Inter's first goal.

FC Internazionale scored twice in the final four minutes to secure a dramatic 3-2 win at AC Perugia on Sunday, boosting their hopes of UEFA Champions League qualification.

In a pulsating Serie A match, Perugia twice hit the woodwork early on before Brazilian Adriano fired Inter ahead with a superb solo goal in the 24th minute. Perugia drew level five minutes after the break when Eusebio Di Francesco headed in at the near post. Eight minutes later the hosts were ahead when Fabiano's corner was punched into the path of Dario Hubner and the 36-year-old turned the ball into the net.

Adriano pulled Inter level with another demonstration of his skill and power in the 86th minute, turning with his back to goal inside the area before lashing the ball into the net. Three minutes later Nigerian Obafemi Martins sprung Perugia's offside trap and rounded keeper Zeljko Kalac to slot the winner.

The result moves Inter up to fifth place on 49 points, a point behind Parma who occupy the fourth and final qualifying spot for the Champions League. Meanwhile Perugia are now six points from safety. This Wednesday Inter play host to Olympique de Marseille in the second leg of their UEFA Cup quarter-final tie, looking to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit.

Goals: di Francesco (5' 2H), Hubner (13' 2H); Adriano (24' 1H, 41' 2H), Martins (43' 2H).



Barça resume winning ways (Real Valladolid 1 - Barcelona 3)

Saturday, 10 Apr 04 21:18
Barça chalked up a deserved sixth away win tonight against Valladolid to keep up the pressure on their opponents at the top of the table.

The match couldn't have started better for Barça with a Saviola goal inside the opening two minutes. Ronaldinho added the second in the first half and Iniesta chipped in with a third near the end. The black cloud on the night was the sending off of Ronaldinho for a second yellow card, which means he'll miss Wednesday's rearranged game in Seville against Bétis. Despite the numerous absences in defence and playing with ten men from the 53rd minute, Barça put in a good performance, above all in the first half.

With his defensive line decimated by injuries and suspension, Frank Rijkaard opted for Gerard and Reiziger at fullback with a combination of experience and youth, Cocu and Oleguer, in the centre. Motta joined Davids and Xavi in midfield. The match started brightly and Barça almost immediately found themselves one goal up when Saviola took full advantage of Reiziger's surging run down the left. The Dutch defender centred from the line and Saviola slotted home at the near post.

Barça continued to look dangerous and in the 11th minute Ronaldinho centred for Davids whose shot screwed just wide of the post. Valladolid had their first effort on goal thanks to Oscar but his shot was well saved by Valdés. Gradually, the home side began to fight back.

Rijkaard decided to take off Luis García in the 22nd minute and replace him by Club captain Luis Enrique. Five minutes later, Valladolid enjoyed their best chance of the match so far. Fernando Sales served the ball up on a plate for Richetti who was completely unmarked in front of goal, but he could only fire wide. Ronaldinho got Barca's second after a through ball from Motta found Saviola inside the area. His centre was met by the Brazilian at the far post and Ronaldinho volleyed into the net before the ball could touch the ground. That's his 20th goal for Barça in all competitions. With a comfortable two-goal cushion, Barça coasted through to the break.

Barça continued to control the game with ease after the break but in the 53rd minute disaster struck when Ronaldinho was shown his second yellow card of the night for interfering with Bizzarri's clearance. Valladolid now held the momentum and they reduced Barça's lead in the 67th minute thanks to Oscar's headed goal from a corner kick. Rijkaard decided to shuffle things around and brought on Óscar López for Saviola. Gerard moved into midfield and Luis Enrique took on the role of sole striker.

But Valladolid had the psychological edge and began to trouble Valdés with increasing frequency. They hit the crossbar in a confused action that was finally cleared by Cocu.

Rijkaard brought on Iniesta for Gerard for the last ten minutes, moving Oscar López to right back in his place. A great pass from Luis Enrique gave Iniesta the chance to wrap up the match and he coolly slotted home past the despairing Bizzarri.



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