European Football: Barcelona make it look easy

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The Independent Online
A FULL house of 98,000 at the Nou Camp on Saturday saw Barcelona win the first Catalan capital derby of the season with a comfortable 3- 0 home victory over Espanyol.

All three goals came in the second half, after an ugly clash between Barcelona's Luis Figo and Mauricio Pochettino. The Portuguese midfielder lashed out after the last of several late tackle from his marker, and both men were sent off in first-half injury-time.

After the break the Brazilian playmaker Rivaldo scored twice and Patrick Kluivert grabbed his first goal of the season as Barcelona strolled to their third win out of three in the Spanish League. Another, less heralded, side with maximum points are the newly-promoted Madrid club Rayo Vallecano, who beat Real Sociedad 2-1 yesterday with goals from Jordi Ferron and, in injury time, Michel Sanchez.

In contrast Valencia, who entertain Rangers in the Champions' League tomorrow, have lost all three games so far. In a disastrous last 10 minutes at home to humble Alaves on Saturday they let in two goals and had Joachim Bjorklund, a former Rangers defender, sent off as they lost 2-0.

Roy Prager hit a hat-trick to help Hamburg thrash Hertha Berlin 5-1 on Saturday and stay top of the German Bundesliga on goal difference ahead of Bayer Leverkusen, who came from behind to win 3-2 at home to Schalke 04.

The champions Bayern Munich, who have made a poor start to the season, welcomed back their captain Stefan Effenberg from a long lay-off but still failed to shine in a 2-1 win at MSV Duisburg. Michael Tarnat and Thomas Linke were on target for the Bavarians.

The most bizarre Bundesliga game was on Friday at Hansa Rostock, where the visitors, Ulm, finished with only seven men on the pitch after four red cards. They equalised at 1-1 in the 79th minute when they had eight players, and lost to an injury-time Rostock goal moments after the final dismissal.

In Italy Fiorentina, who host Arsenal tomorrow in their first European Cup campaign for 30 years, led 2-1 for much of their game at newly promoted Reggina but conceded a late goal and had to settle for a 2-2 draw.

Manchester United's Champions' League opponents tomorrow, Croatia Zagreb, won 4-0 at Istra on Saturday to go second in the Croatian Premier League.