Real plane catches fire

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The Independent Football

Real Madrid's players were left stranded in Russia yesterday following Tuesday night's mid-air scare in which their plane caught fire.

The Primera Liga champions' aircraft was forced to turn back after one of the engines burst into flames as they took off from the Russian capital following their 2-0 Champions' League defeat to Spartak Moscow.

The Futura Boeing 737 was forced to make an emergency landing after a collision with a flock of seagulls caused one of the engines to catch fire shortly after take-off. The plane was able to land safely, although the players were shaken by the incident.

Real had left several high-profile stars at home – including Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo – but the team was still packed with a host of internationals such as Steve McManaman, Pedro Munitis and Fernando Morientes.

The scare is far from ideal preparation for Sunday's vital league game with Barcelona. However, those who did travel are expected to have the rest of the day off and will resume training tomorrow.

Milan's vice-president Adriano Galliani has revealed the club rejected a world-record bid for their striker Andrei Shevchenko in the close season.

Galliani claimed that Real Madrid were prepared to top the £46.5m they paid Juventus for Zinedine Zidane in their efforts to prize the Ukrainian away from San Siro.

"This summer Real Madrid offered to buy Shevchenko for more money than they paid for Zidane," Galliani said. "But we refused. Milan is a buying club, not a selling club."

Parma's coach Renzo Ulivieri has resigned on the eve of his side's Uefa Cup game against Utrecht, the Italian club announced yesterday. The former Napoli and Bologna coach told the club of his decision yesterday morning following a lengthy board meeting on Tuesday.

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