Football: Vieri's winner keeps Lazio in front

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CHRISTIAN VIERI'S second-half winner at Sampdoria gave 10-man Lazio their first victory in four Italian Serie A matches yesterday - but Milan remain just one point behind the league leaders after a 2-0 win at Vicenza.

Lazio started nervously, with their first-half efforts on goal restricted to several Sinisa Mihajlovic free-kicks. After the break, though, the Chilean striker Marcelo Salas was replaced by the Croat, Alen Boksic, and they looked more threatening. The winner came when Portugal's Sergio Conceicao laid on a pinpoint cross for Vieri to head home.

Lazio's Argentinian midfielder Matias Almeyda was shown the red card for a second bookable offence but his compatriot, the Sampdoria playmaker Ariel Ortega, was soon sent off as well to even up the teams.

At Vicenza, Milan's Croat midfielder Zvonimir Boban squandered two clear- cut chances before Oliver Bierhoff escaped Marco Aurelio's man-to-man marking to head his side into the lead. Leonardo put the result beyond doubt with a second Milan goal after a superb dummy by George Weah.

With four Serie A matches remaining, Fiorentina are a distant third, eight points behind Lazio, after a late Antonio Conte goal sent them to a 2-1 defeat at Juventus. The Uefa Cup finalists Parma are losing their grip on fourth place and an automatic place in next season's Champions' League after a 1-0 defeat at Roma.

Udinese's 3-1 win at Internazionale was their first success at San Siro against Inter in 42 years. At the bottom of the table, Marco Di Vaio's hat-trick in Salernitana's 4-0 win over Bologna gave his side hope of avoiding a quick return to Serie B, but Empoli were relegated after losing 2-0 at home to Bari.

In Spain, Real Mallorca celebrated their European feats with a 6-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao yesterday which lifted them to joint second place in the Primera Division.

Leo Biagini, who scored the goal against Chelsea on Thursday which sent the islanders through to the European Cup-Winners' Cup final, led the way again with a first-half hat-trick. The second-half goals came from Ariel Ibagaza, Marcelino and Dani.

With Real Madrid fluffing their chance of taking back second spot - John Toshack's side were held to a dismal 1-1 draw at struggling Salamanca - Mallorca joined Celta Vigo and Deportivo La Coruna in sharing the runners- up place behind the leaders, Barcelona.

Bayern Munich, Manchester United's opponents in the European Cup final, were held to a 1-1 draw by their city rivals, TSV 1860 Munich, yesterday, but still lead the German Bundesliga by eight points.

Feyenoord won their 14th Dutch title yesterday despite a surprising 2-2 home draw against the bottom side, NAC Breda. With 71 points from 29 matches the Rotterdam side are 16 points clear of second-placed Vitesse Arnhem, who lost 3-1 to NEC Nijmegen, with only five games remaining.

In Belgium, the defending champions Club Bruges scored an unimpressive 3-0 win over lowly Kortrijk 3-0 to move back to within two points of the leaders, Genk, yesterday. Genk met little resistance at Germinal Ekeren on Saturday, winning 2-0 to maintain their chances of a first title, with four games left to play this season.

Lens, who are not giving away their French title cheaply, crushed their possible successors Marseilles 4-0 on Saturday. Marseilles clung to their one-point lead at the top only because second-placed Bordeaux also lost, 2-0 away to the bottom club, Sochaux.

Pablo Gonzalez scored twice as Spain crushed Japan 4-0 in Lagos, Nigeria, on Saturday to win the World Youth Championship for the first time. Gonzalez, who plays for the Second Division club Numancia, was the tournament's joint leading scorer with five goals, alongside Mali's Mahamadou Dissa.