FOOTBALL: European round-up Batistuta presses Fiorentina's claims

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The Independent Online
The prolific Argentinian striker Gabriel Batistuta lifted Fiorentina to second place in Serie A yesterday with two goals in his side's 3-1 win at Atalanta. Fiorentina's third successive victory leaves them just a point adrift of leaders Milan, held 1-1 at home by struggling Torino.

Milan recovered well after conceding a fourth-minute penalty converted by Ruggiero Rizzitelli, with Zvonimir Boban equalising in the 11th minute. With George Weah and Roberto Baggio looking out of form, Milan slipped to their second successive draw at the San Siro.

Parma, second at the start of the day, lost ground after struggling to a 1-1 draw away to a Bari team beaten 7-1 at Cremonese last week. Despite falling behind to Igor Protti's 45th-minute penalty and seeing their Colombian striker Faustino Asprilla dismissed for dissent, Alessandro Melli's 89th- minute equaliser allowed Parma to extend their unbeaten run to 11 matches.

While fourth-placed Juventus beat Internazionale, with Gianluca Vialli scoring the only goal, Lazio produced a 6-3 trouncing of Sampdoria to stay on their heels. Giuseppe Signori, without a goal since October, recaptured his touch by scoring twice as Lazio ended their run of three successive league defeats.

A resurgent Cagliari stretched their unbeaten run to five matches by becoming the first club to beat Vicenza on their home ground in 27 months.

In their first Dutch league match since winning the world club title in Tokyo, Ajax strolled to a 3-0 win at Utrecht yesterday. Marc Overmars, again linked with Manchester United and Arsenal in the week, gave Ajax a ninth-minute lead and Jari Litmanen's penalty made it 2-0. The Finn was on target again seven minutes from half-time.

Ajax, with 15 wins and a draw from 16 games, stay five points clear of PSV Eindhoven, 3-0 winners at home to Fortuna Sittard on Saturday.

Gica Popescu, the former Tottenham player, earned Barcelona a 1-0 victory over Sporting Gijon, but Atletico Madrid remained at the top of the Spanish League with a similar victory at Valencia. They left it late, with Jose Luis Caminero scoring the only goal two minutes from time.