Overseas football: Souness looking for inspiration

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The Independent Online
The introduction of Karel Poborsky, recently recruited by Graeme Souness from Manchester United, and two other two new players did little to resurrect Benfica's fortunes this weekend.

A 2-0 defeat at Porto, the defending champions, has left Benfica no fewer than 14 points adrift of their conquerors on Saturday, the Portuguese league leaders. Souness, the Benfica coach, fielded three new players, Ukraine's Sergei Kandurov and Portugal's Luis Carlos, as well as the Czech Republic's Poborsky, but it was to no avail as two second-half goals from Artur Oliveira gave the home side maximum points.

"I thought we were the better team tonight," a defiant Souness insisted. "I'm disappointed with the result, but not by the performance of our team." Porto's Paulinho Santos and Benfica's captain, Joao Pinto, were both sent off after a second-half scuffle.

Real Betis condemned Real Madrid to ending the first half of the Spanish season in second place after a fine 3-2 victory on Saturday. Defeat left the reigning champions on 39 points after 19 matches, a point behind Barcelona, who play at Salamanca tonight and will still have a game in hand afterwards.

Robert Jarni, Oli Alvarez and the Bosnian defender, Hristo Vidakovic, were on target for Betis. Real Madrid equalised twice, through Roberto Carlos and Raul Gonzalez, but could not draw level a third time despite a late red card for the Betis defender, Albert Nadj.

In Italy, Gabriel Batistuta scored his 100th Serie A goal but his Fiorentina side, who had scored 10 times in their previous two matches, were held 1-1 at home by Sampdoria yesterday. The German striker Oliver Bierhoff scored twice in seven minutes as Udinese maintained their fine form with a 2-1 win at Roma.

Philippe Troussier, the former coach of Nigeria, has been chosen as South Africa's new coach - but he will not take up his duties until March. The Frenchman will stay in charge of Burkina Faso until after the African Nations' Cup.

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