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Weekend review: Trio of title triumphs

Published: Monday 29 April 2002, 12.05CET
The championship races were settled in Belgium, Turkey and Portugal over the weekend.

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Published: Monday 29 April 2002, 12.05CET

Weekend review: Trio of title triumphs

The championship races were settled in Belgium, Turkey and Portugal over the weekend.

An eventful weekend of action saw league champions crowned in Belgium, Turkey and Portugal among other countries. However, the title races in the Netherlands, Spain, France and Italy will go down to the wire.

Rivals gift Sporting title
In Portugal, Sporting Clube de Portugal were handed their 18th Portuguese title by Lisbon rivals SL Benfica, who beat second-placed Boavista FC 2-1 on Sunday night to leave the new title-holders with an unassailable lead at the top of the table. Sporting could have confirmed their status as champions 24 hours earlier but they could only draw 2-2 with Vitória Setúbal, with Golden Shoe favourite Mario Jardel scoring both Sporting goals.

Genk win second crown
KRC Genk were crowned Belgian first division champions for just the second time in their history on Sunday afternoon despite being held to a goalless draw by lowly KVC Westerlo. Genk's failure to win against Westerlo became academic with the news that K. Sint Truidense VV had overwhelmed nearest title-challengers Club Brugge KV 5-3.

Another triumph for Galatasaray
Meanwhile in Turkey, Galatasaray SK won their 15th 1. Lig title after a comfortable 2-0 win at Kocaelispor. Closest rivals Fenerbahçe SK won 1-0 at Bursaspor thanks to Haim Revivo's 50th-minute header but it proved in vain.

Legia end seven-year wait
Legia Warszawa were crowned champions in Poland after a goalless draw with Odra Wodzislaw saw them win their first title in seven years. NK Zagreb claimed their first-ever Croatian Premier League title on Saturday despite being held to a scoreless draw at NK Cakovec while in Malta, Hibernians FC won their ninth Maltese Premier League title, seven years after their last title success, with a 2-0 win over Floriana FC. In Northern Ireland, Portadown FC pipped Glentoran FC to the title by a point in a dramatic finish to the Irish league. The Ports' 3-1 success over Cliftonville FC at Shamrock Park was enough to secure their first championship since 1996 and the fourth in their history. It also rendered Glentoran's win over Coleraine FC meaningless.

Cup glory for AEK
In Greece, a week after losing the crunch Ethniki Katigoria game to Olympiakos Piraeus FC, AEK Athens FC bounced back to defeat their title rivals 2-1 in the Hellenic Cup final. Sotirios Konstantinidis put AEK ahead only for Giovanni to put Olympiakos back on level terms after an hour. But the Brazilian was later sent off and AEK immediately regained the upper hand, allowing substitute Ilia Ivic to head an 83rd-minute winner.

Issues still to be settled
Despite the flurry of celebrations and commiserations across Europe, the silverware is still to be dispensed in Italy, Spain, England, France and the Netherlands. In Italy, hat-tricks from Vincenzo Montella and David Trezeguet gave AS Roma and Juventus FC 5-0 wins in Serie A on Sunday, but leaders Internazionale FC will go into the final game next week a point clear after defeating Piacenza FC 3-1. All three teams remain in the title race, with Inter leading on 69 points from Juventus on 68 and Roma on 67. If Inter win at S.S. Lazio, they will secure their first title in 13 years - but a slip-up could let in Juventus, who are at lowly Udinese Calcio, or Roma, who travel to mid-table Torino Calcio.

Valencia extend lead
Valencia CF extended their lead in the Primera División in Spain to four points on Saturday with a win while rivals Real Madrid CF suffered a surprise 3-0 defeat against Real Sociedad. Valencia had Rubén Baraja to thank for their 2-1 victory at RCD Espanyol after playing an hour of the match with ten men following the dismissal of Amedeo Carboni. For their part, Madrid were beaten 3-0 at Sociedad to hand the initiative to their rivals. With two games left to play, Valencia are now odds-on to win their first Spanish title since 1971.

Agony for Leverkusen
In Germany, Bayer 04 Leverkusen's wait for their first-ever German title looks like it could continue as they surrendered leadership of the 1. Bundesliga to BV Borussia Dortmund. Matthias Sammer's Dortmund got the better of Hamburger SV 4-3 in a thrilling game while morning leaders Leverkusen suffered a disastrous 1-0 defeat against 1. FC Nürnberg at the Frankenstadion, with Marek Nikl scoring the only goal of the game. With one round left to play, the result leaves Leverkusen a point adrift of Dortmund with FC Bayern München a point further back after winning 1-0 against VfL Wolfsburg.

Two more wins enough for Arsenal
Arsenal FC need two more wins from their last three FA Premiership games to make sure of the English title. They face Bolton Wanderers FC on Monday night safe in the knowledge that Liverpool FC's 1-0 defeat against Tottenhgam Hotspur FC on Saturday had effectively removed the Merseysiders from the championship equation. However, Ruud van Nistelrooij's penalty gave Manchester United FC a narrow 1-0 win at Ipswich Town FC to maintain the reiging champions' hopes of an unprecedented fourth successive championship.

Dutch drama
Comfortable wins for both AFC Ajax and PSV Eindhoven on Sunday ensured the battle for the Dutch Eredivisie title will go down to the final round of fixtures. Ajax held on to their three-point lead courtesy of a 2-0 win over FC Den Bosch, secured with a goal in each half from Greek striker Nicolaos Mahlas. Meanwhile, PSV cruised to a 3-0 victory over Sparta Rotterdam. Ajax will win the championship if they win or draw at NEC Nijmegen next week, while PSV, who have a superior goal difference, can pinch it with a victory at De Graafschap if Ajax lose.

Exciting climax
However, the most exciting climax to the season looks set to take place in France. Leaders RC Lens and second-placed Olympique Lyonnais face each other next Saturday in the final game of the season with the title up for grabs for the winner. Lens underlined their claim for a first title in four years with a 4-1 thrashing of En Avant Guingamp at the Félix-Bollaert stadium on Saturday while Lyon secured a 1-0 win at FC Girondins de Bordeaux. Should next week's match at the Gerland stadium finish level Lens will win Le Championnat by a point.

Last updated: 30/04/02 2.13CET

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