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Red-hot Fernando Torres, sinking Barcelona, Italian violence
by Paul Kennedy, March 31st, 2008 6:45AM



[THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY] Spaniard Fernando Torres scored in Liverpool's sixth straight home game, tying a Reds' record, and helped them beat Everton, 1-0, in their Merseyside derby. Barcelona was all but eliminated from Spain's La Liga race when it blew a two-goal lead against Real Betis and lost, 3-2. Italian soccer was again marred by violence when a Parma fan was accidentally run over by a bus as it attempted to leave a service station at which Juventus and Parma fans were trading insults. For all the weekend developments across Europe ...

GOOD ...

Fernando Torres remains Red-hot
Spaniard Fernando Torres scored in Liverpool's sixth straight home game, tying a Reds' record, and helped them beat Everton, 1-0, in their Merseyside derby. The goal gave Torres 28 goals for the season and moved Liverpool five points clear of Everton in the race for the fourth and final Champions League spot. "Torres has been a surprise for everyone," said Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez. "Twenty-eight goals in his first season, with 21 in the league, is a fantastic achievement."

Porto closes in on Portuguese title
A stoppage-time penalty by Argentine international Lucho Gonzalez gave Porto a 2-1 win at Belenenses on Sunday that left the Dragons one win away from their third successive Portuguese league title. Porto leads Benfica by 16 points with six matches left,.

BAD ...

Barca's Rijkaard "embarrassed" and "depressed"
For the first time in 10 years Barcelona blew a two-goal lead, and its 3-2 loss at Real Betis on Saturday dropped the Catalan club to third place in La Liga race, seven points behind leader Real Madrid and one behind surprise Villarreal. Barca was leading on first-half goals from 17-year-old Bojan Krkic and Samuel Eto'o, but Betis came back to win thanks to a pair of goals by Edu and a goal by Juanito. "I feel embarrassed by the result," said Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard. "I am depressed. It was not so much that they won the game, it was more that we lost it."

Derby goes down in record speed
Derby County had the ignominious distinction of being the first English Premier League team to be relegated in March when its return to the Championship was confirmed after its 2-2 draw with Fulham at Pride Park. The tie coupled with Birmingham's 3-1 win over Manchester City confirmed the Rams' relegation.

UGLY ...

Another soccer fatality at Italian service station
The Serie A game between Juventus and Parma was postponed after a Parma fan, Matteo Bagnaresi, was accidentally hit and killed by a bus after it attempted to leave a service station at which Parma and Juve fans were trading insults. Only last November, a Lazio fan was shot and killed by a police officer following scuffles with Juve fans at a service station.

PSG triumph marred by racist banner on Ch'tis
Paris St. Germain's 2-1 victory over Lens in the French League Cup final on Saturday was marred by PSG fans, who unfolded a racist banner during the French League Cup final against Lens at the Stade de France on Saturday. The French league is investigating the banner that was a play on the popular French movie "Welcome chez les Ch'tis." Ch'tis is a nickname for the people of northern France. Lens mayor Guy Delcourt asked that the match be be replayed. He called the banner, which read "Pedophiles, unemployed, inbred: welcome chez les Ch'tis," to be an insult to all those living in northern France.

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