European football: Barcelona sunk

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The Independent Online
WHILE the champions of England, Scotland and Italy were showing their pedigree over the weekend, their counterparts in Spain and France were struggling, writes Henry Winter.

Barcelona's unbeaten start was sunk in the Galician port of La Coruna. The pressure game of Deportivo, the Spanish league leaders, proved too much for the title-holders, who were beaten by a moment of Brazilian inspiration in the 73rd minute. Bebeto gave Albert Ferrer the slip before beating Andoni Zubizarreta. Johan Cruyff, the Barcelona coach, was also booked for over-vociferous protesting from the dug-out.

The French champions, Marseille, fell 1-0 to an exuberant Nantes. A goal from the Chad striker, Japhet N'Doram, took Nantes top as Paris St Germain could only draw with lowly Lens.

Spartak Moscow, who Liverpool travel to meet in the Cup- Winners' Cup on Wednesday, are the first champions of the new Russian League. A 4-1 win over neighbours Lokomotiv put them five points clear of Spartak Vladikavkaz with two games left.

Kaiserslautern, Sheffield Wednesday's midweek opponents, lost 2-0 at Bayer Leverkusen. The Bundesliga leaders, Bayern Munich, drew with the newly promoted Saarbrucken, for whom Stefan Beckenbauer, son of Franz, the Bayern director, was outstanding. Bayern fell behind to Thomas Kristl's header but hit back when Oliver Kreuzer nodded in a Lothar Matthaus corner.

Bobby Robson's Sporting Lisbon, who have not had the best start to the Portuguese season, had two players dismissed but still beat their neighbours Benfica 2-0, a win the former England manager said had lifted 'a little bit of the gloom'. Sporting's goals came from two Bulgarians: Krassimire Balakov with a 30-yarder and Ivailo Yordanov with a header from his compatriot's free-kick.