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WEEKEND WRAPUP: International Soccer Headliners
by Paul Kennedy, October 1st, 2007 7AM

TAGS:  england, italy, spain


Things went from bad to worse for Chelsea, which had to settle for a 0-0 tie with Fulham in their West London derby on Saturday, the Blues' fourth successive league match without a goal -- their worst run for nine years.

England captain John Terry suffered a depressed fracture of his cheekbone after being elbowed up American Clint Dempsey. Ivorian star Didier Drogba was sent off for picking up two yellow cards, while Andriy Shevchenko was booed off the field when he was substituted after a poor display on his 31st birthday.

The game marked new manager Avram Grant's first game at at Stamford Bridge since Jose Mourinho left. Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said some of the protests about the managerial change were anti-Semitic in nature and had to stop. Grant's Polish father, Meir, 80, is a holocaust survivor.

Swede Sven-Goran Eriksson has quickly left his stamp on Manchester City, which he took over as manager following the club's takeover by Thai Thaksin Shinawatra over the summer.

The 3-1 win over Newcastle United on Saturday left the Citizens in third place behind only Arsenal and Manchester United in the English Premier League. Their performance was a far cry from their run of seven games without a goal at home to conclude the 2006-07 league campaign. New signings Elano and Martin Petrov and Emile Mpenza, who arrived last winter, all scored against Newcastle as City kept its perfect record at Manchester Stadium this season intact. Eriksson, the former England national team coach, says the approach of his players is the key to City's early success.

"It's always easier to be the manager with good football players as long as they want to work as a collective," Eriksson said. "A lot of them are good footballers, but they want to do the work, which is very important. And they don't try to get the ball and dribble past five players, they play football."

Defending champion Inter Milan flexed its muscles with a 4-1 win at Roma Saturday to break its tie with the Giallorossi at the top of the Serie A standings.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (his seventh goal of the season), Hernan Crespo, Julio Cruz and Ivan Cordoba scored for Roma, which broke a 1-1 tie with three goals in 12 minutes in the second half.

Inter has a one-point lead on Juventus, which moved up to second with a 1-0 win over city rival Torino on David Trezeguet's stoppage-time goal.

After hitting the woodwork three times in his four matches, $32 million signing Thierry Henry needed a little more than a half hour Saturday to score three goals for Barcelona in its 4-1 win at last-place Levante in La Liga action.

Lionel Messi, who scored the fourth goal, set up Henry twice in the first half, and Deco was the provider on Henry's third goal three minutes into the second half. Messi was happy to be of service to Henry.

"It was only a question of time before the goals came for Henry," said Messi, who has five himself and is building a case for himself as the world's best player. "He had chances the other day but no luck. I'm very happy for him."

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