Lazio give Eriksson reason for cheer as Udinese go clear

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The Independent Online

The newly appointed England coach, Sven Goran Eriksson, enjoyed a satisfactory Saturday evening as the Italian champions, Lazio, enjoyed a straightforward 2-0 win over Bologna in Serie A with goals from Pavel Nedved and Hernan Crespo.

The newly appointed England coach, Sven Goran Eriksson, enjoyed a satisfactory Saturday evening as the Italian champions, Lazio, enjoyed a straightforward 2-0 win over Bologna in Serie A with goals from Pavel Nedved and Hernan Crespo.

Nedved gave Lazio the lead in the 10th minute after the Chilean striker Marcelo Salas, in for the injured Claudio Lopez, displayed great skill to beat three Bologna defenders before setting up the Czech, who stroked the ball home with the outside of his right foot.

Lazio, who gave a debut to the veteran Italian international midfielder Dino Baggio, their recent signing from Parma, were always in control against a deeply disappointing Bologna. But Eriksson's team had to wait until the 65th minute to make sure of the points after Juan Sebastian Veron made a characteristic surge from midfield and played a perfectly weighted through-ball to his compatriot Crespo, who finished with style.

Udinese moved clear at the top of the Serie A standings for the first time in their history yesterday, after beating Lecce 2-0. Luigi Di Canio's side won at home with second-half goals from Roberto Sosa and Massimo Margotta to claim sole possession of top position with 13 points from five games.

Roma moved up to second place, a point behind, after the Argentine striker Gabriel Batistuta hit a second-half hat-trick in a 4-2 win at Brescia.

Roma took the lead at Brescia through Vincent Candela but a strike from Pierpaolo Bisoli and a Durio Hubner penalty gave Brescia the lead at the break. Batistuta pulled Roma level on the hour when he pounced after a Zago shot had rattled out off the post and then grabbed his second with an almost identical goal 17 minutes later, slotting home after Cafu had struck the post.

The Argentine claimed his hat-trick and his sixth goal of the season with a fine left-foot shot in the final minute.

Milan, who entertain Leeds in the Champions' League on Wednesday, had to pull back a two-goal deficit to gain a 3-3 draw at home to the early-season pace-setters, Atalanta.

Milan trailed 3-1 at half-time to the visitors but an Oliver Bierhoff header and a harshly awarded penalty, converted by Andrei Shevchenko, gave them a point. The visitors' first-half goals had come from Cristiano Doni, with two, and Fausto Rossini, while Serginho was on target for Milan.

Barcelona won 1-0 at Las Palmas to gain ground in the Spanish Primera Liga on Saturday, as their three leading title rivals all suffered surprise away defeats. Victory for Barcelona, which came through a brilliant finish from Rivaldo at the start of the second half, lifted them to fourth place.

The league leaders Valencia, the champions Deportivo La Coruña and the title favourites, Real Madrid, all had off days. Valencia went down 1-0 at Espanyol while Deportivo conceded a last-minute winner to Villarreal in a 3-2 defeat.

Real Madrid were beaten 3-1 at Numancia, for whom the Romanian Laurentiu Rosu claimed a hat-trick. England's Steve McManaman made his first start for Real since last season's European Cup final.

Stuart Baxter quit as coach of AIK Solna yesterday, the day after the club finished a disappointing third in the Swedish league. The 47-year-old Scot led AIK to the league title in 1998.

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