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 Tuesday, October 22, 2002 18:22 EST

Arsenal shocked at home by Auxerre

[Reuters]

LONDON -- Defending champions Real Madrid and fellow Spaniards Valencia both gave up late equalizers on Tuesday to put their progress to the second phase of the Champions League on hold.

Real threw away a 2-0 home lead to draw 2-2 with AEK Athens while Valencia was within seconds of its fourth win only to draw 2-2 at Basel.

It was even worse for Arsenal, another side looking for the three points needed to progress, as it lost 2-1 at home to Auxerre.

That, and Liverpool's 3-1 win at Spartak Moscow courtesy of a Michael Owen hat trick, were the only positive results from the night's games as six of the eight ended level.

Olympique Lyon and Inter Milan shared six goals in a classic encounter in France and with Rosenborg Trondheim grabbing a late equalizer for a 1-1 draw at Ajax Amsterdam, Group D remains wide open.

Borussia Dortmund drew 1-1 at home with PSV Eindhoven in Group A, a result that will ease group leaders Arsenal's frustrations.

AS Roma missed a great chance to make ground on Real when it was held to a goalless home draw by Genk in Group C.

The night had started well for Real as English midfielder Steve McManaman scored two well-taken goals in the first half.

However, Real, who had to battle back to snatch a 3-3 draw in Athens in its last European outing, got sloppy after the break and Costas Katsouranis pulled one back after 74 minutes and Walter Centeno snatched the equalizer four minutes from time.

Real remains top of Group C with eight points from four games. Roma has five, AEK four and Genk two.

Valencia's disappointment came even later as Basel midfielder Ivan Ergic got his second of the game in the last minute to secure a notable 2-2 draw in Group B.

Ergic had put the Swiss side ahead in the 32nd minute -- the 2,500th goal scored since the Champions League began 10 years ago -- only for Ruben Baraja (36) and Curro Torres (72) to turn the game Valencia's way.

However, the Spaniards had Roberto Ayala sent off in the 88th minute and Basel took full advantage of the subsequent defensive confusion to grab a point.

Valencia, runner-up in 2000 and 2001, remains top on 10 points but Liverpool, who hosts Valencia next at Anfield, has closed the gap to three.

Liverpool conceded its first goal in five games -- Spartak's first in four Champions League matches -- when 18-year-old Aleksandr Danishevski scored after 23 minutes.

But, England striker Owen equalized six minutes later, put the visitors ahead in the 70th minute and then finished off a sweeping Liverpool move for his treble in injury time.

Basel is still in contention with five points but Spartak, still pointless, is out.

Arsenal's seven-month unbeaten record was ended with a 2-1 English premier league defeat at Everton on Saturday and its success-spoiled fans were stunned again on Tuesday, this time on home soil.

With three wins out of three and no goals conceded, the Londoners were expected to cruise through. However, first-half goals by Olivier Kapo and Khalilou Fadiga had a lively Auxerre two-up at the break.

Nwankwo Kanu pulled one back eight minutes into the second half but there were few other chances.

Arsenal remains top of Group A with nine points, two clear of Dortmund, who it plays next week in Germany. Auxerre has four points and PSV two.

Czech striker Jan Koller opened the scoring for the German champions with a header after 10 minutes but striker Arnold Bruggink volleyed a superb equalizer for PSV two minutes into the second half.

Lyon, 2-1 winners in the San Siro three weeks ago, looked on course for the double over Inter when it twice led through Sonny Anderson (21) and Eric Carriere (44).

But, a Claudio Cacapa own goal and two for Hernan Crespo had Inter eyeing victory, only for Andersson to get his second 15 minutes from time to settle it at 3-3.

The French champions top their group with seven points from four games. Inter is second on five, ahead of Ajax (5) and Rosenborg (3).

Rosenborg clung on to its slim qualification hopes thanks to an 85th-minute penalty by Dagfinn Enerly.

Ajax had taken the lead after 41 minutes when Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored from close range but ended with 10 men after Jelle van Damme was sent off for handling the ball on the goalline to give away the equalizing spot kick.


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