Baresi celebrates as Milan march on

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European football


Making his 500th league appearance, Franco Baresi led Milan to a 2- 0 win at Piacenza yesterday that restored his side's eight-point advantage at the top of Italy's Serie A.

Second-placed Juventus, the reigning champions, had temporarily reduced the deficit by defeating Parma 1-0 on Saturday, thanks to a second-half own goal by Parma's goalkeeper, Luca Bucci, but Milan were in no mood for a slip-up yesterday.

The French international midfielder, Marcel Desailly, put Milan ahead with a glancing header in the 52nd minute from a corner by Roberto Baggio. Marco Simone added the second goal in the 65th minute.

Baresi, whose career started in April 1978, ensured Milan kept a clean sheet in defence alongside Paolo Maldini, but his day was blemished by a second-half booking. He has played 439 Serie A matches and 61 in Serie B in a remarkable career with his only club, for whom a fourth title in five years now looks virtually inevitable.

Real Madrid did Barcelona an unexpected favour on Saturday when they snatched a 2-1 win at the Spanish league leaders, Atletico, in a thrilling Madrid derby in which both sides were reduced to 10 men. The result leaves Atletico just five points ahead of Barcelona, who won 1-0 at Albacete with a second-half strike from Oscar Garcia.

Real took the lead against the run of play in the first half through their right-back, Miguel Soler. The first red card came soon after the break, with Atletico's Diego Simeone, for dissent, the culprit. His depleted side fell further behind when Michael Laudrup, set up by Ivan Zamorano, added Real's second. Near the end Fernando Hierro was sent off for handball on the goal-line, and Milinko Pantic converted the penalty for Atletico's consolation goal.

Sabri Lamouchi scored twice as Auxerre, profiting from Paris St-Germain's shock 3-2 home defeat by Metz, swept to the top of the French league with a 4-0 win over Lille on Saturday. PSG, who lost 3-0 to Auxerre last Sunday, are now one point behind the new leaders. Robert Pires netted twice for third-placed Metz.