European Football: Barcelona feeling battered

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Real Madrid's 5-0 battering of Barcelona on Saturday may signal the end of the Catalonian club's four-season run as the Spanish League champions and herald the return of Real as the First Division's dominant side.

Indeed, the coach Johan Cruyff hinted after the home defeat, which left Barcelona five points adrift of Madrid, the leaders, that changes were in the offing.

The first move is the near-certain return of Romario to his native Brazil. Cruyff was also openly critical of Hristo Stoichkov, who was sent off in the 44th minute for stamping.

Madrid's Chilean striker, Ivan Zamorano, scored a first-half hat-trick, with the other goals coing from Luis Enrique Martinez and Jose Amavisca.

Deportivo La Coruna's 0-0 draw at Real Betis yesterday left in third place, three points behind Madrid. In the north, the Basque derby between Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad finished 0-0 despite Bilbao's Josu Irrutia and Real's Jose Lumbreras being dismissed.

Another first-half hat-trick on Saturday came from Patrice Loko in Nantes' win over Lille, taking the French League leaders seven points clear of Paris Saint-Germain, whose game at Sochaux on Friday was postponed. The two meet at Parc des Princes on Wednesday.

French League: Bastia 0 Auxerre 1; Bordeaux 2 Rennes 0; Cannes 2 Nice 0; Le Havre 1 Martigues 0; Lens 1 Montpellier 1; Monaco 3 Caen 0; Nantes 3 Lille 0; Strasbourg 1 St Etienne 1. Leading positions: 1 Nantes (P 22, Pts 48); 2 Paris SG (21-41); 3 Cannes (22-37).

Spanish League: Real Madrid 5 Barcelona 0; Celta 0 Seville 0; Real Betis 0 Deportivo La Coruna 0; Logrones 0 Real Valladolid 0; Albacete 1 Real Oviedo 0; Athletic Bilbao 0 Real Sociedad 0; Sporting Gijon 1 Tenerife 1; Racing Santander 3 Valencia 2; Espanol 2 Atletico Madrid 0. Leading positions: 1 Madrid (P 16, Pts 25); 2 Zaragoza (15-23); 3 Deportivo La Coruna (15-22).

Portuguese League: Benfica 1 Tirsense 0; Gil Vicente 1 Boavista 2; Setubal 1 Beira Mar 0; Porto 5 Salgueiros 2; Uniao Leiria 2 Braga 1. Leading positions: 1 Porto (P 16, Pts 28); 2 Sporting Lisbon (16-28); 3 Benfica (16-24).