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MIDWEEK WRAPUP: International Soccer Headliners
by Paul Kennedy, November 1st, 2007 7AM



Valencia fans must hope that the hiring of Dutchman Ronald Koeman as head coach will end the La Liga club's free fall. Wednesday's announcement followed Valencia's 5-1 loss at home to La Liga leader Real Madrid. In Roma, Roma won city bragging rights with a 3-2 win over Lazio. On the agenda in England was the League Cup, in which Chelsea rallied to beat Leicester City, 4-3, thanks to Frank Lampard's hat trick. As expected, Sao Paulo wrapped up its second straight Brazilian national championship.

Ronald Koeman's decision to accept Spanish club Valencia's offer and take over as head coach could not come sooner. His announcement that he was leaving Dutch champion PSV followed Valencia's embarrassing 5-1 loss at home to Real Madrid on Wednesday night.

Only one point behind Real Madrid last week, Valencia now finds itself seven points adrift after a 3-0 loss to Sevilla that cost Coach Quique Sanchez Flores his job and the 5-1 loss to Real Madrid. (Real Madrid led, 4-0, after only 37 minutes on two goals by Ruud van Nistelrooy, a Raul goal in the second minute and a superb shot from defender Sergio Ramos.)

Koeman said he had agreed to coach Valencia through the 2009-10 season, though he had not yet signed a contract. PSV assistant Tonny Bruins Slot will join Koeman at Valencia. Jan Wouters will take over at PSV as interim head coach. Koeman is the second head coach to leave a major Dutch club in the middle of the season. Hank ten Cate left Ajax to become the assistant coach at Chelsea.

Roma won city bragging rights, at least for the fall, with a 3-2 win over Lazio in the 129th league derby between the two Rome clubs.

Even without injured star Francesco Totti, Giallorossi were just too skillful for Lazio, rallying from 1-0 down after 12 minutes thanks to their sweet passing game. Montenegrin Mirko Vucinic scored the first goal and set up Simone Perrotta for the third. Brazilian Mancini scored the second Roma goal after a one-two with French defender Philippe Mexes.

The win left Roma three points behind leader Inter Milan, a 4-1 winner over Genoa.

Frank Lampard, standing in as captain for the injured John Terry, scored a hat trick to lead Chelsea past Leicester City, 4-3, in the fourth round of the English League Cup.

Lampard's third goal of the match capped the Blues' late rally to extend their unbeaten streak at Stamford Bridge to 46 games. Leicester was leading, 3-2, with three minutes to play when Andriy Shevchenko scored the equalizer. Lampard, who has scored twice in the first half, won the game in stoppage time when he had the last touch of the ball on a wild scramble in front of the Leicester goal.

Seven of the top nine teams in the Premier League, most of them fielding largely reserve teams, were through to the quarterfinals. Struggling Tottenham joined Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers, Everton, West Ham and Chelsea in the quarterfinals.

Goals by Hernanes, Miranda and Dagoberto gave Sao Paulo a 3-0 victory over America-Natal that clinched the Brazilian championship for the second year running.

The first club to win the Brazilian championship five times since it began in 1971, Sao Paulo maintained its 15-point lead over Paulista rival Santos, a 2-1 winner at Nautico, with four games to play.

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