Overseas Football: Sharpe goes close on debut

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The Independent Online
LEE SHARPE came on as a second-half substitute to make his debut for Sampdoria - and almost grabbed a victory for the new coach David Platt. Sharpe, who moved to Italy from Leeds on loan until the end of the season, came on when Samp were 1-0 down against Bologna.

Giuseppe Signori had put Bologna in front, but six minutes after Sharpe's introduction Francesco Palmieri levelled in the 63rd minute. Sharpe had a volley with time running out, but his effort flashed narrowly wide of the mark.

The rest of Serie A revelled in a goal bonanza, as Parma hammered Piacenza 6-3, Internazionale crushed Venezia 6-2 and Cagliari beat Roma 4-3. Argentinian Abel Balbo emerged as Parma's hero, scoring a second-half hat-trick in under 15 minutes.

At San Siro, Inter coach Mircea Lucescu's gamble of playing a three-man attack paid dividends as bottom side Venezia were demolished by Ronaldo, who scored twice, Roberto Baggio and Ivan Zamorano, who scored a hat-trick. The victory, along with superior goal difference, enabled Inter to leapfrog over neighbours Milan, who snatched a late 1-1 draw at Empoli. Arturo Di Napoli scored for Empoli in the 58th minute, but Christian Ziege levelled for Milan - a rare goal for the German defender.

Italy's struggling champions, Juventus, had to settle for a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Bari. Juventus' Edgar Davids scored just after the re-start, but Daniel Andersson earned Bari a point with a penalty.

The Juventus honorary president, Umberto Agnelli, said afterwards that Carlo Ancelotti, the former Parma coach, is likely to take over the reins at Juventus from next season. There had been speculation in the Italian media that the top two contenders to replace Marcelo Lippi were Ancelotti and the Chelsea manager Gianluca Vialli.

Real Mallorca retained their lead of the Spanish first division with a 2-1 victory over European champions Real Madrid. Mallorca went ahead after 10 minutes when a shot from Cameroon international Lauren Etame- Mayer was parried by Bodo Illgner and Ariel Ibagaza put in the rebound.

The islanders extended their lead after 27 minutes when Real Madrid club captain Manuel Sanchis turned the ball past Illgner, under pressure from Mallorca's Ariel Lopez.

Real pulled a goal back 56 seconds into the second half when Clarence Seedorf scored after latching onto a Raul Gonzalez pass. But Mallorca held out and Sanchis' miserable afternoon was completed 11 minutes from time when he was sent off for his second yellow card.

A second-half double from Rivaldo wrapped up a 4-2 victory for Barcelona in a thrilling game with Athletic Bilbao. In a match played in torrential rain, Rivaldo snuffed out Bilbao hopes of a comeback with a neatly taken finish and it was the Brazilian who clinched a third successive win for his side with a late back-heel. Victory takes Barcelona to second place in the table.