European Football: Barcelona fall to Bilbao

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The Independent Online
BARCELONA'S season has taken a couple of turns for the worse in the last four days. After being knocked out of the Spanish Cup by Second Division Real Betis on Thursday, yesterday they lost 3-2 at home to Athletic Bilbao and had their Bulgarian international striker, Hristo Stoichkov, sent off, writes Adam Szreter.

Goals by Ernesto Valverde, Jose Angel Ciganda and Julen Guerrero wiped out Barcelona's two from Jose Maria Bakero and Stoichkov, who was shown the red card for dissent 10 minutes from time after the Brazilian Romario had had an apparent equaliser ruled offside.

The good news for second- placed Barcelona is that Deportivo La Coruna failed to extend their four-point lead as they were beaten 2-0 at Real Madrid. Real move to within a point of Barcelona in fourth.

In Italy, David Platt's seventh-minute goal got Sampdoria into the mood for a 6-2 win at home to Udinese. Juventus, their main rivals in the chase to catch Milan - who won 2-0 at Roma - could only draw 0-0 at Reggiana.

Ruud Gullit was on form again for Sampdoria, setting up the first three goals. First, he rose above the Udinese defence to head a cross down into Platt's path. Vladimir Jugovic scored the second from a penalty 10 minutes later after Gullit had been brought down, while Gullit's back-heel supplied the Serb again in the 30th minute. Roberto Mancini with two (one penalty) and Lorenzo Amoruso were their other scorers.

Parma took over third place on goal difference from Juventus after a 2-1 win at Torino, while Lazio, minus the suspended Paul Gascoigne, moved up to fifth after scoring twice in the last three minutes to win 2-1 at Internazionale. That result could prove terminal, in management terms, for Osvaldo Bagnoli.

Bobby Robson's first League game in charge of the Portuguese champions, FC Porto, ended in a 2-0 defeat by Benfica in Lisbon. His defender Fernando Couto took a swipe at Benfica's Jose Mozer and was sent off. Sporting Lisbon, Robson's last club, moved to within a point of Benfica with a 1-0 win at Salgueiros.

Ajax Amsterdam had their lead in the Netherlands cut to four points after a high-voltage shock at PSV Eindhoven, losing 4-1 with the Ghanaian teenager Nii Lamptey scoring twice for the Philips club. Second-placed Feyenoord drew with fifth-placed Breda, but they have played one game fewer than Ajax.