Football Around The World: Asprilla somersaults back into scoring limelight

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The Independent Online

WHATEVER HAPPENED to Faustino Asprilla? That somersault has not been seen for some time. The former Toon Army idol, whose second spell at Parma ended in July when he decamped to , was finally able to perform his trademark celebration when he scored his first goals for Palmeiras at the weekend.

The eccentric Colombian, who has spent most of his time keeping the bench warm since his arrival, scored twice in the first 11 minutes of the 6- 0 thumping of Botafogo. The Palmeiras coach, Luis Felipe Scolari, said Asprilla had not played regularly because he had not been fully fit but promised him another chance in the club's next game tomorrow.


PARTIZAN BELGRADE'S win over Zemun attracted much attention over the weekend, but no spectators. Club officials were the only people in the stands watching the 4-1 defeat of their local rivals.

The champions were playing the first of three home matches behind closed doors after violence at the recent Belgrade derby led to the death of a Red Star Belgrade fan.


THE CHANCES of Ukraine beating Slovenia in their Euro 2000 play-off took a downward turn on Sunday when the Dynamo Kiev captain, Olexander Holovko, injured his left knee. The central defender left the pitch on a stretcher eight minutes into the derby game against CSKA after suffering a gash which needed seven stitches.

However the Ukraine coach, Josef Sabo, is not giving up just yet. "He is in the team unless doctors tell me otherwise," he said.

Yesterday, the Ukrainian president, Leonid Kuchma, presented the Order of Merit to Sabo and three of his players, goalkeeper Olexander Shovkovsky and strikers Andriy Shevchenko and Sergiy Rebrov. Also honoured was the veteran Dynamo Kiev coach, Valery Lobanovsky, who took Dynamo Kiev to the European Cup semi-finals last season.


ALBERTO ZACCHERONI, whose job security was looking dodgy a few days ago, won the Golden Bench award as the top coach in Serie A last season. The winner is determined by a vote of league coaches.

Although Milan were eliminated from the Champions' League last week, Zaccheroni's award came for guiding the side to the 1998-99 league title in his first year with the club. Following Wednesday's 3-2 defeat to Galatasaray, he put himself on stronger ground on Sunday, Milan's 3-0 win over Venezia putting them within three points of Lazio in first place.

Zaccheroni said he hopes not to meet the same fate as last year's Golden Bench recipient, Luigi Simoni, who was fired by Internazionale hours after the award was announced.

"I am satisfied because this is a prize that is given by my colleagues," he said. "I hope, though, that I won't get a telephone call like the guy who won last year."