European Football: Batitusta fires Fiorentina with hat-trick

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The Independent Online
GABRIEL BATISTUTA grabbed a hat-trick as Fiorentina warmed up for their midweek Champions' League visit to Barcelona with a 4-1 victory over Verona in Italy's Serie A yesterday.

Fiorentina, lucky to escape with a 0-0 draw at home to Arsenal in their European debut last Tuesday, are tied with Juventus and Lazio at the top of the league with seven points from three matches.

Filippo Inzaghi struck twice in Juve's 4-1 thrashing of Udinese in Turin, while his brother Simone was also on target in Lazio's 3-0 victory over promoted Torino at the Olympic stadium.

Marco Delvecchio scored twice to set Roma on the way to a 3-1 win over Venezia, their first victory of the season and their first in Venice for 32 years.

Roma are now level on five points with the champions Milan, held 1-1 at Bari on Saturday, and Reggina, who claimed their first-ever victory in Serie A with a 1-0 win at Bologna thanks to Davide Possanzini's 74th- minute winner.

When Verona's Fabrizio Cammarata hit the bar in the sixth minute, the Fiorentina faithful prepared to watch another visiting team dictate the pace at the Artemio Franchi stadium. But, in the 17th minute, Enrico Chiesa hit the bar with a fierce shot and Batistuta eagerly pounced on the rebound. On the half-hour, the Argentine claimed his second with a header from Rui Costa's pinpoint cross and, when Chiesa added his name to the scoresheet in the 48th, the match was over.

Martino Melis claimed a consolation goal in the 69th before Batistuta completed his hat-trick in the 81st minute to send a warning to Barcelona.

Two penalties in three minutes set Juventus on the way to revenge for the summer's Uefa Cup play-off defeat against Udinese - a defeat which condemned Juve to the Intertoto Cup. In the 19th minute, Alessandro Del Piero was brought down by the goalkeeper Luigi Turci, picking himself up to convert the spotkick. Then, in the 22nd minute, Antonio Conte was barged over in the area and this time Inzaghi slotted home the penalty.

Del Piero set-up Inzaghi's second in the 38th before Gianluca Zambrotta's solo effort completed the rout. Morten Bisgaard pulled one back in the 73rd but it was not enough to stop Juve claiming a share of the Serie A lead for the first time since drawing at Udinese last November - the match in which Del Piero snapped knee ligaments.

Paris St-Germain were held to a 1-1 draw in Strasbourg on Sunday and are tied for top spot in the French League with Lyon, who were shock winners at the champions Bordeaux on Saturday.

PSG and Lyon have 14 points and identical goal tallies, with 10 scored and six conceded in the seven games. Auxerre, who beat St-Etienne 2-1 on Saturday, are also on 14 points but with a worse goal difference.

Mickael Madar scored PSG's goal with a disputed penalty after 64 minutes but Strasbourg levelled the score through Olivier Echouafni, five minutes later. Lyon won 3-1 at Bordeaux, with the Brazilian Sonny Anderson scoring twice.

Kaiserslautern recovered from a disastrous start to their Bundesliga campaign to beat the German front-runners, Hamburg, 2-0 yesterday.

Hamburg suffered their first defeat of the season after Harry Koch and Olaf Marschall scored first half goals for the 1998 champions Kaiserslautern, who played the last six minutes with 10 men after midfielder Martin Wagner was sent off for a second bookable offence in the 84th minute.

Hamburg drop to second place, one point behind Bayer Leverkusen. They drew 0-0 at Hertha Berlin, Chelsea's midweek Champions' League opponents, and are now the only unbeaten side in the league after five games.

Hamburg have 10 points along with Borussia Dortmund, who won 3-0 at 1860 Munich on Friday, and the champions Bayern Munich, who won 2-1 at Eintracht Frankfurt despite losing two goalkeepers through injury.

Oliver Kahn and his replacement Bernd Dreher were both carried off. Bayern's No 3 goalkeeper, Sven Scheuer, is also out injured so Stefan Wessels, 20, who usually plays for Bayern's amateur side in the regional Third Division, will play against Rangers in the Champions' League tomorrow.

Sturm Graz, who entertain Manchester United in the Champions' League on Wednesday, lost 1-0 at Tirol Innsbruck on Saturday and are third in the Austrian League. AIK Solna, who play Arsenal on the same night, beat Hammarby 2-0 on Saturday and lead the Swedish League by three points.