The goalscoring feats of AS Roma's Vincenzo Montella and Hertha BSC Berlin’s Bart Goor took centre stage on a weekend that also saw an array of big city derbies.
Montella scored four goals as Roma returned to the top of Serie A with a 5-1 away win against S.S. Lazio in the Rome derby on Sunday. Lazio were simply no match for an irresistible Roma side in which Montella and Francesco Totti in particular were outstanding. The result sees Roma regain top spot, ahead of Internazionale FC, who drew 2-2 with fellow title contenders Juventus FC on Saturday.
Montella had completed his hat-trick within the first period, opening the scoring in the 12th minute with a header from a cross by Vincent Candela. His second came on the half-hour mark following a run and shot by Totti that Lazio goalkeeper Angelo Peruzzi could only parry, Montella arriving to knock in the rebound. Number three came just seven minutes later, the 27-year-old from Naples converting a free-kick from Totti.
The hat-trick was the first ever in a Rome derby, and after Dejan Stankovic's right-foot shot reduced the deficit Montella was at it again, scoring his and Roma's fourth with a left-foot shot. The tireless Totti completed the scoring, breaking through to lob the Lazio goalkeeper in the 72nd minute.
Goor matches Montella
Belgian international Bart Goor matched Montella's feat by scoring four times for Hertha in their 6-0 thrashing of Hamburger SV on Sunday as the Berlin side maintained their push for a European place. Elsewhere in Germany, Bayer 04 Leverkusen stayed on course for their first 1. Bundesliga title with a 2-0 win against struggling FC Energie Cottbus.
Dortmund stay in touch
Second-placed BV Borussia Dortmund are just a point behind Leverkusen after a 3-1 victory against VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach while FC Bayern München needed a last-minute strike from midfield player Thorsten Fink to grab all three points against TSV 1860 München in the Munich derby. The result moved the reigning champions up to third place.
In England, the FA Cup dominated the headlines, as three teams booked their places in the semi-finals. Middlesbrough FC beat Everton FC 3-0 to advance to the last four for only the second time in their history, while Chelsea FC beat Tottenham Hotspur FC 4-0 and Fulham FC overcame first division West Bromwich Albion FC to reach their first semi-final in 27 years. Arsenal FC and Newcastle United FC drew 1-1 in the other quarter-final and will replay for the right to play Middlesbrough in the semi-finals. Fulham will meet Chelsea in an all west London affair in the other semi-final.
Madrid on track
In Spain, Real Madrid CF got back on track on Saturday with a 3-0 win against Villareal CF. Madrid's centenary celebrations were spoiled by Wednesday's Spanish Cup final defeat by RC Deportivo La Coruña at the Santiago Bernabéu but any thoughts Villarreal had of capitalising on Madrid's disappointment were swiftly annulled thanks to goals from Raúl González, Fernando Hierro and Steve McManaman. Elsewhere, FC Barcelona's UEFA Champions League hopes suffered a blow as they lost 2-1 at Real Betis Balompié while Valencia CF maintained top position with a 2-0 win against Sevilla FC.
Old Firm end all-square
In Scotland, the Old Firm derby between Rangers FC and Celtic FC in the Scottish Premier League finished all-square at 1-1. The result means Rangers avoided three successive Ibrox defeats at the hands of their rivals but Celtic's ten-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League was maintained.
AFC Ajax are still five points clear at the top of the Dutch Eredivisie after beating De Graafschap 4-0 on Sunday. Fellow title contenders Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven both enjoyed 4-1 wins against AZ Alkmaar and Roda JC respectively.
In France, the only league game of the weekend saw FC Girondins de Bordeaux beat fellow European hopefuls AJ Auxerre 1-0 on Sunday. Meanwhile in the French Cup quarter-finals there were several surprise results. Paris Saint Germain FC lost against FC Lorient while struggling second division side Nîmes Olympique SC defeated AS Monaco FC in a penalty shoot-out on Sunday. SC Bastia overcame fourth division Libourne-Saint-Seurin 1-0 after extra-time and CS Sedan-Ardennes beat holders RC Strasbourg to complete the semi-final line-up.
Sporting back on top
Sporting Clube de Portugal returned to the top of Portugal's 1. Liga after defeating CD Santa Clara 3-0 at the São Miguel stadium on Sunday. Mario Jardel was on target with a penalty to take his impressive goalscoring tally to 31 goals in 22 matches. Jardel's former club Galatasaray SK hit the top of the table in Turkey with a 1-0 win in Saturday's hard-fought Istanbul derby against Besiktas JK. Andres Fleurquin scored the only goal of the game.
Club Brugge KV consolidated their lead at the top of Belgium’s Jupiler League with a 3-2 victory over KFC Germinal Beerschot Antwerpen on Sunday. R. Standard Liège's title challenge was dented by a dour goalless draw at R. Antwerp FC, who had Maboula Ali Lukunku sent off eight minutes from time.
Other notable results across Europe saw CSKA Moscow get their 2002 Russian Premier-Liga campaign off to a flying start as they trounced city rivals FC Torpedo-ZIL Moscow 4-0 while In Israel Maccabi Haifa took a giant step towards securing the Ligat ha-Al with an emphatic 3-0 win on Saturday against UEFA Cup quarter-finalists Hapoel Tel-Aviv.
The major news off the field was that Ricardo Sá Pinto, Sporting Clube de Portugal's Portuguese international striker, is certain to miss the FIFA World Cup finals following the news he needs an operation on a knee injury. Other World Cup news is that FC Schalke 04’s Belgian international Marc Wilmots will be out for the next four weeks with a knee injury and therefore faces a nervous wait to see whether he will be fully fit in time to join Robert Waseige's squad for the finals in Korea/Japan.
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