ROME -- A cautious Ronaldo made his return to the Italian
league Sunday, playing 20 minutes as a substitute for
Internazionale and escaping without injury.
"I'm happy because I managed to end the match, although playing
a few minutes," Ronaldo said after a 2-0 victory in Milan over
Fiorentina that put Inter one point behind Serie A leader Chievo.
The Brazilian received a standing ovation when he entered in the
72nd minute. He was tentative making tackles and displayed few
moves in a game in which Mohamed Kallon and Christian Vieri scored
Ronaldo, a two-time FIFA player of the year, appeared briefly in
two UEFA Cup games and a league game earlier this season. He had
been out two years because of two knee operations and a long
"Time will come when I will be able to be in the starting
lineup and play the entire match," he said.
Chievo, which last week lost to neighboring Verona, won at home,
beating Perugia 2-0 on goals by Eugenio Corini and Lorenzo D'Anna.
Perugia played most of the way with two players down.
In other key games, defending champion AS Roma defeated Bologna
3-1 on the road on goals by Walter Samuel, Gabriel Batistuta and
Assuncao while AC Milan won 1-0 at Parma on a goal by Filippo
Chievo leads the standings with 23 points. AS Roma climbed to
third place with 20 points, three behind Chievo and three ahead of
Lazio, Juventus, Bologna and Brescia.
Lyon closes on French first-division leaders RC Lens: Olympique Lyon humbled AJ Auxerre
3-0 to close in on French first division leaders RC Lens on
Sunday in Paris.
Lyon, who did not seem too affected by their 4-1 thrashing
at Club Bruges in the UEFA Cup on Thursday, scored through
Jean-Marc Chanelet and Peguy Luyindula in the first half, with
Philippe Violeau sealing victory eight minutes from the end.
The win put them two points behind Lens, who drew 1-1 at
Troyes on Saturday.
"The least we could do was to avenge the Bruges defeat,"
said Lyon captain Violeau.
"This match did us as much good as the Bruges match harmed
us," said playmaker Eric Carriere.
Defender Chanelet volleyed home in the 14th minute after
Auxerre defender Jean-Alain Boumsong failed to clear the ball
following a dangerous cross from Lyon's Eric Carriere.
Luyindula made it 2-0 shortly before the break after a fine
combination with Brazilian playmaker Juninho Pernambucano.
Violeau's 82nd minute free kick was a masterpiece.
The young Auxerre squad may have been affected by the
absence of manager Guy Roux, who underwent heart surgery on
Saturday after feeling unwell in training.
"Guy Roux is a real character and we could feel his
absence," said Boumsong.
Lille ousted Auxerre from third place with a neat 1-0
victory over Stade Rennes.
The northerners, who have a perfect home record of seven
wins in seven games, got the winner when Sylvain N'Diaye set up
Johnny Ecker for a 48th minute goal.
Lille are on 29 points, three behind Lens and one behind
Defending champions Nantes went down to their third home
defeat this season, against Paris St Germain.
The Parisians won 2-1 thanks to goals by Nigerian
Bartholomew Ogbeche and Brazilian Ronaldinho in the second half.
Real Madrid closing on Spanish leader: Deportivo Coruna crashed to a 4-1
defeat at Real Mallorca on Sunday, allowing a resurgent Real
Madrid to close to within four points of the Spanish league
Goals from Alberto Luque put Mallorca 2-0 up against the
league leaders and although Walter Pandiani pulled one back the
islanders ran out deserved winners with second-half strikes from
Veljko Paunovic and Alejandro Campano.
Deportivo's defeat followed similar setbacks for Alaves,
Barcelona and Valencia on a bleak weekend for the leading sides.
All that spelled good news for Real Madrid, who beat city
rivals Rayo Vallecano 3-0 to roar back into the title hunt.
Although they remain down in seventh place, Vicente del
Bosque's side are now just a point behind eternal rivals
Barcelona, and Deportivo are firmly within their sights.
After 14 games, Deportivo lead the standings with 26 points,
two clear of Alaves, who went down 1-0 at Villarreal.
Real Betis moved up to third, behind Alaves on goal
difference, thanks to their 2-1 win at Osasuna.
Barcelona is in fourth on 23 points following a 2-1 defeat
at home to Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.
Valencia, who lost their unbeaten league record with a 2-0
defeat at Real Sociedad on Sunday, are behind the Catalans on
goal difference. Bilbao move up to sixth, also on 23 points.
Real Madrid is a point further back in seventh after their
deserved victory at bottom club Rayo.
Del Bosque's side almost found themselves a goal behind to
Rayo in the first minute as Elvir Bolic raced on to a long ball
through the middle and smacked a shot just wide, with Iker
Real responded in devastating fashion, though, to take the
lead themselves 30 seconds later.
Luis Figo skipped past two defenders on the right wing and
crossed to the far post, where an unmarked Fernando Morientes
headed the ball back across goal, leaving Raul a simple finish.
Rayo were struggling to get the ball off their visitors and
it was little surprise when Real went 2-0 up, Morientes
receiving the ball outside the area in space and tucking in
The pace dropped after the break but Real remained in
control and Morientes wrapped up a fine win as Raul robbed the
ball and slipped a pass through for his fellow Spain forward to
convert his second.
"We were able to take advantage of mistakes from our
rivals," said Del Bosque.
"The players did exactly what they had to do, working as a