GABRIEL BATISTUTA scored two goals in the opening 11 minutes as Argentina thrashed Ivory Coast 4-0 in the Continental Cup in Riyadh. Ricardo Altamirano and Alberto Acosta were the Copa America holders' two other scorers. Saudi Arabia beat the United States 3-0 in the first game of the round-robin tournament.
In Cairo, Ibrahim Saleh's 59th-minute equaliser gave Sudan's Al-Hilal a valuable 1-1 draw against former winners Ismailia of Egypt in the African Champions Cup semi-final first leg.
The Egyptians opened the scoring through Fawsi Gamal in the 27th minute but failed to reproduce the devastating form which saw them put six goals past the defending champions, Club Africain of Tunisia, in the quarter-finals.
For Al-Hilal, the tournament's underdogs, fortune continues to shine. In the quarter-finals, they beat the Kenyans, Gor Mahia, in a penalty shoot-out after winning their previous ties through the away-goal rule and a withdrawal.
The former African Cup-Winners' Cup holders, Al-Merreikh of Sudan should move closer to a second appearance in the final this weekend. The 1989 winners were more impressive in previous rounds than Vital'O of Burundi, who they meet in the first leg of their semi-final.
Al-Merreikh boast an impressive home record of 14 victories and two draws in the annual competition for the Nelson Mandela Cup. The Sudanese, who made their Cup-Winners' Cup debut eight years' ago, have scored 27 goals in 16 cup ties and conceded only three. A highly efficient defence has proved the key to success the goal Railways of Tanzania scored in May was the first by a visiting club since 1987.
Al-Merreikh reached the penultimate stage by eliminating Express of Uganda 2-1 on aggregate, Railways 4-3 and USM of Gabon 4-2 after a dramatic meeting. Furious at the refereeing, USM walked off three times during the first leg in Khartoum, which was also hit by sand storms and power failures.
Vital'O, quarter-finalists in 1987 and 1990, qualified for the semi-finals at the sixth attempt, three of which ended in first-round defeats. Last year, Inter Stars became the first semi-finalists from Burundi, losing 4-3 to the eventual winners, Power Dynamos of Zambia.
Vital'O were drawn against the holders in the second round, but the Copperbelt club withdrew when senior players went on strike over bonuses. In other rounds, Vital'O beat BTM of Madagascar and ended the giant-killing run of Fatima Red Devils from the Central African Republic.
The presence of the Ivory Coast at the Intercontinental Champions' Cup in Saudi Arabia has forced the cancellation of the second semi-final. Favourites for the title, Africa Sports, who supply several players to the Ivorian national squad, will now play DC Motema Pembe of Zaire at home in two weeks' time.
Renato Gaucho scored five times as the Brazilian club, Cruzeiro, crushed Nacional of Colombia 8-0 in a return-leg meeting to reach the quarter-finals of South America's Supercopa. The first-leg in Colombia had ended in a 1-1 draw. Cruzeiro now play River Plate of Argentina for a place in the semi-final.