Overseas Football: Ronaldo's hat-trick keeps Internazionale in Italian title race

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The Independent Online
RONALDO surged back to goal-scoring form yesterday with a hat- trick as Internazionale crushed struggling Lecce 5-0 in Italy's Serie A. The Brazilian striker opened the scoring after 16 minutes, converted a penalty midway through the second half and scored his third and Inter's fifth on 76 minutes.

Third-placed Lazio won 2-0 at Bari to record their 13th consecutive match without defeat. Vladimir Jugovic put the visitors ahead from the penalty spot and Giuseppe Favalli added a second a minute from time.

Oliver Bierhoff scored his 17th league goal of the season as fourth-placed Udinese came from behind to draw 1-1 with Parma, who finished the match with 10 men after the French defender Lilian Thuram was sent off on the stroke of half-time.

Bayern Munich, the defending champions who are currently lying second in the German Bundesliga, were deservedly beaten 2-1 by Hertha Berlin in front of 76,000 fans at the Olympic stadium. Michael Preetz and Ante Covic scored the home goals.

To compound Bayern's misery, Kaiserslautern, the league leaders, scored a late winner at VfB Stuttgart to extend their advantage to five points. The Bulgarian midfielder Marian Hristov seized on a defensive error to shoot from close range into an open goal in the 81st minute and hand Stuttgart their first home defeat of the season. The victory takes Kaiserslautern one step closer towards being the first promoted club to win the title.

In Spain, two goals from Croatia's Davor Suker helped Real Madrid overpower Gijon 3-0 to return to the top of the Primera Division, one point ahead of Barcelona, who drew 0-0 with Mallorca.

Gijon's defeat leaves them firmly rooted to the bottom of the table, with just six points.