Auxerre in lead for French first division championship


L’AJ Auxerre placed itself in the lead in the 2001-2002 French first division championship Saturday by overwhelming Rennes 5-0 over the course of a day marked by the defeats of the two top-ranking teams from the last championship, Nantes and Lyon. Auxerre defeated Rennes, a team fatigued by its previous efforts in the Intertoto Coup, and offered newly reinstated Auxerre trainer Guy Roux, a dream start to the championships. Attacker Djibril Cisse, lobbed four goals, becoming the leading scorer in the first division in the process. Just behind Auxerre in the rankings, Troyes emerged triumphant against Guingamp 3-0. Following the 0-2 Friday defeat of reigning champion, Nantes against Bordeaux, other first division teams tumbled or just plain fell. Paris Saint-Germain, who had wanted to forget its ninth-ranked position in last year’s championship results, was incapable of prevailing over Lille in a 0-0 match which showed little action. Lyon’s 0-2 loss to Lens followed, confirming its incapacity to make a mark from the first days of the championship. In Monaco, Sochaux scored a surprise 1-0 victory against the home team. The Monegasques, 14th in the fist division in the last championship, were helpless against the Sochaux onslaught, in spite of reformed playing tactics that their new trainer, Didier Deschamps, had brought to the team. Among the big league teams, only Bordeaux came close to justifying its stature by avenging itself against the reigning champion, Nantes, who had defeated Bordeaux just the year before on its home territory. Nantes, badly organized in the field, showed that they were not yet in their best form. In other matches, Bastia, rejuvenated since the last season, tied 1-1 with Sedan. Lorient beat Metz 1-0. Montpellier ended with a 1-1 tie with Marseille although in one a dramatic incident, Montpellier President Louis Nicollin and the new Marseilles trainer Jose Anigo, had to be separated after a fist fight. New signings score as Rangers start with 3-0 win at Aberdeen New signings Christian Nerlinger, Russell Latapy and Claudio Caniggia all hit the target as Rangers started the new Scottish season with an impressive 3-0 win at Aberdeen on Saturday. Defending titlist Celtic matched its score with a 3-0 home victory over St. Johnstone. Stung by losing the title to Celtic last season and finishing 15 points behind its big rival, coach Dick Advocaat spent big in the transfer market during the off season and the trio wasted no time in paying him back. Nerlinger, signed from Borussia Dortmund, gave the Gers a 55th minute lead before Trinidadian Latapy, hired from Hibernian, made it two in the 67th with a penalty. Argentine World Cup veteran Caniggia, signed from Dundee, hit the third in the 72nd minute. Swedish defender Johan Mjallby put Celtic on the way to victory with a near post header from a Bobby Petta cross just before half time. Paul Lambert swapped passes with Henrik Larsson to add second and netted the third with a half volley. Hibernian, which finished a distant third last term, needed a late equalizer from Danish forward Ulrik Laursen to salvage a 2-2 tie at home to Kilmarnock. Michel Ngonge gave Killie a fourth minute lead on his debut only for Frank Sauzee to level in the 39th minute from the penalty spot. Christophe Cocard regained the lead for the visitor a minute before half time but Laursen equalized again seven minutes from the end. Playing in the top flight for the first time, Livingston began with a 2-1 victory over one time powerhouse Hearts. Francisco Quino and David Fernandez put the home team two goals ahead before Colin Cameron scored a consolation reply in the final minute. Neighbors Dundee United and Dundee tied 2-2 at Tannadice with Jim Hamilton scored a last minute leveler for the home team. Charlie Miller had given United a 30th minute lead only for Juan Sara and Gavin Rae 56th to swing the game Dundee’s way. Two goals each by Jack de Gier on his debut and Barry Nicholson powered Dunfermline to a 5-2 victory over Motherwell at East End Park. David Kelly (penalty) and Keith Lasley replied for the visitor. Valencia beat AC Milan 2-1 with last-minute penalty

Valencia scraped a 2-1 victory against AC Milan with two late goals in their final game of the Amsterdam Tournament on Saturday.

Last season’s Champions League finalists struggled to break down AC Milan’s defence until five minutes before the end after going 1-0 down in the first half.

Italy striker Filippo Inzaghi put AC Milan ahead after 28 minutes when a free-kick taken by Andriy Shevchenko was blocked, the ball squirting out for Inzaghi to tuck it into the corner of the net.

In a largely scrappy game on a hot and humid night, Valencia levelled after 85 minutes when midfielder Miguel Angel Angulo floated a free-kick to unmarked forward Gonzalo de los Santos, who headed the equaliser from five yards.

In the final minute of the game, Valencia were awarded a penalty for handball, which was converted by Argentine midfielder Kily Gonzalez.

Valencia lost 1-0 to Liverpool, who play Ajax later on Saturday, in a lacklustre opening encounter on Thursday.