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 Wednesday, October 2, 2002 18:24 EST

Arsenal, Valencia stay perfect


LONDON -- European champions Real Madrid fought back from 3-1 down to draw 3-3 with AEK Athens on Wednesday and maintain its unbeaten record at the halfway stage of the first phase of the Champions League.

Although Real lost its 100 percent record in the competition, third successive victories for Arsenal, who won 1-0 at Auxerre, and Valencia, won crushed Basel 6-2, maintained their perfect starts and almost certainly booked their places in the second phase.

Liverpool finally got its campaign off the ground with the club's first win, a 5-0 hammering of Spartak Moscow, while away victories for Olympique Lyon, 2-1 at previously unbeaten Inter Milan, and Borussia Dortmund, 3-1 at PSV Eindhoven, kept their hopes of progressing alive.

Inter's defeat by Lyon was its first ever at home in Europe's premier club competition, the European Cup and Champions League, in this the club's 34th home match since September 1963.

PSV Eindhoven scored for the first time in five matches and 466 minutes of Champions League action but still lost 3-1 at home to Borussia Dortmund, while AS Roma revived its chances of a place in the last 16 with a 1-0 win at Genk, whose goalkeeper Jan Moons was sent off for deliberate handball after nine minutes.

AEK Athens made a great start at home against Real in its Group C match, with Vassilis Tsartas putting the club ahead after only six minutes with a twice-taken free kick that hit the post the first time and the back of the net after the referee ordered it to be re-taken.

Real was level within nine minutes thanks to Zinedine Zidane but AEK struck twice in four minutes through Christos Maladenis (24) and Denis Nikolaidis (28) to put the hosts 3-1 ahead.

Zidane pulled the champions back in the game five minutes before the break and AEK finally caved in when Guti scored on the hour after Raul had rattled the crossbar.

With Roma winning 1-0 at Genk in the same group, Real has seven points to lead the quartet, followed by Roma (four points), AEK (three) and Genk (one).

Arsenal, who failed to win away in the competition from February 2001 until last week at PSV Eindhoven, secured its third straight success in Group A with a 1-0 victory at Auxerre thanks to a 48th minute goal from Brazilian World Cup winner Gilberto Silva.

Auxerre made the English champions work hard for their victory and hit the bar late in the game, but the Gunners held firm to top the group with nine points. Borussia Dortmund, whose goals at PSV came from Jan Koller (21), Tomas Rosicky (69) and Marcio Amoroso (90), have six points with Auxerre and PSV on one each.

Valencia also maintained its perfect start in Group B with a sparkling 6-2 victory over Basel, who had started its first Champions League campaign with a win and a draw.

But the Swiss side never looked like getting anything other than a spanking in Spain as two goals from John Carew and one each from Fabio Aurelio and Ruben Baraja put Valencia 4-0 ahead inside 28 minutes.

Julio Rossi gave Basel a glimmer of hope soon after halftime before further strikes by Pablo Aimar and Mista put Valencia 6-1 ahead. Hakan Yakin scored a late consolation for Basel who started the night in second place but ended it third after Liverpool's 5-0 rout of Spartak Moscow at Anfield.

Liverpool's first success lifted the club to four points, the same as Basel but now with a better goal difference. Spartak has lost all three matches.

Emile Heskey scored the first and last goals as Liverpool dominated the entire game, Bruno Cheyrou, Sami Hyypia and Salif Diao adding the others.

Valencia leads the group with nine points, Liverpool and Basel have four and Spartak none.

Olympique Lyon ended one of the proudest home records in Europe when it won 2-1 at Inter Milan who had been unbeaten in 33 previous European Cup and Champions League matches dating back to September 1963.

Goals from Sidney Govou (21) and Sonny Anderson (58) put Lyon 2-0 ahead and a 72nd minute goal from Fabio Cannavaro failed to save the hosts.

With Ajax Amsterdam drawing 0-0 at Rosenborg, Lyon moved from third to top of Group D on six points, followed by Inter and Ajax on four and Rosenborg on two.

After three successive weeks of Champions League action, there is now a three-week break until Matchday Four on October 22/23.

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