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Monday 24. November 2003 - 08:05

Real Madrid go top as Europe's leading clubs win

Real Madrid took over at the top of the Primera Liga from Deportivo Coruna on Sunday as Europe's leading clubs Juventus, Arsenal, Vfb Stuttgart and Monaco all won to preserve first place in their domestic championships.

Real Madrid went top when lowly Albacete succumbed 2-1 after a late headed winner from Zinedine Zidane seven minutes from time after England captain David Beckham had put them ahead with a spectacular strike seven minutes before the break.

Valencia's chances of drawing level on 26 points with Real and second-placed Deportivo, who lost top spot after being held to a goalless draw by a dominant Real Betis on Saturday, disappeared when they were held 2-2 at bottom club Murcia.

Rafa Benitez's Valencia side took the lead when Mista slotted home on 13 minutes but last season's second division champions hit back with goals from Richi and Michel either side of halftime before Mista struck again with a fine header.

AS Roma enjoyed a 4-0 win at Bologna on Sunday to stay within two points of Serie A leaders Juventus, who won 2-0 at Modena on Saturday, after 10 games.

Andriy Shevchenko scored both goals for European champions AC Milan in their 2-0 win at Chievo taking his season's tally to 10 goals. Milan are third but level on 24 points with Roma.

Inter Milan are in fourth place after their 6-0 victory over Reggina on Saturday but there were ugly scenes as Lazio beat Perugia 3-1 to move up one place to fifth.

Four players -- Souleymane Diamoutene, Giovanni Ignoffo and Marco di Loreto from Perugia and Lazio's Sergio Conceicao -- were sent off along with Perugia coach Serse Cosmi.

It was business as usual in England with wins for the top three in the premier league -- Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United -- who have now opened up a nine-point gap.

Arsenal stayed top with a 3-0 victory at Birmingham City as manager Arsene Wenger celebrated his 400th match in charge despite missing six first-team regulars, including skipper Patrick Vieira, through suspension, jet lag and injury.

Sweden midfielder Freddie Ljungberg gave them a fourth- minute lead but the points were assured only when Dutch forward Dennis Bergkamp and France winger Robert Pires added two more goals in the last 10 minutes.

Chelsea ground out a 1-0 win at Southampton with a rare goal from defender Mario Melchiot, while champions Manchester United, beat Blackburn Rovers 2-1 with strikes from Ruud van Nistelrooy and Br azilian midfielder Kleberson's first for the club.

The victories kept Arsenal top of the leading trio with 33 points, Chelsea on 32 and United just one point further back on 31 as they all limbered up for Champions League duty next week.

Monaco remained three points clear at the top of Ligue 1 after a 2-0 win over RC Lens in a match lit up by a sumptuous goal. Jerome Rothen's centre found Ludovic Giuly who flipped into the air to volley home right-footed at shoulder height.

The midfielder then turned provider for Fernando Morientes 10 minutes later, beating three defenders to cross for the Spanish striker to head home at the far post after 68 minutes.

Defending champions Olympique Lyon have 30 points after beating Racing Strasbourg 1-0 on Friday thanks to an injury-time penalty from Peguy Luyindula.

Third-placed Olympique Marseille are on 27 points after Ivorian striker Didier Drogba scored one and set up Ahmed Mido for the second in a 2-0 win at Lille.

In Germany, leaders VfB Stuttgart beat Hanover 96 3-1 to remain the only unbeaten team in the Bundesliga after 13 matches as they opened up a two-point lead.

Silvio Meissner scored twice after Imre Szabics had put them in front for their eighth consecutive home win.

Bayer Leverkusen, a point behind ahead of the weekend, were held to a 2-2 draw at Borussia Dortmund and Werder Bremen jumped above them into second after a 3-1 win at home to Vfl Bochum.

Bayern Munich scraped a 1-0 victory over cross-town rivals TSV 1860 in front of a derby crowd of 69,000 to stay in fourth place six points behind the leaders.

Roy Makaay scored his seventh goal of the season for Bayern from their only first-half shot on target but it took an impressive save by goalkeeper Oliver Kahn late in the match from a Benjamin Lauth shot to prevent 1860 from earning the draw.  
Provided by: Frank Henriksen
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