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Europe's elite stay clear

February 24, 2003 11:40 IST

Inter Milan and Juventus stayed top of the Italian first division with wins at the weekend but crowd violence, which forced AC Milan's Serie A match at Torino to be abandoned, once again reared its ugly head.

Arsenal, Bayern Munich, PSV Eindhoven and Olympique Marseille stamped authority on their respective leagues to stretch their leads in England, Germany, the Netherlands and France, while Real Sociedad snatched back top spot in Spain.

Inter scored three goals in the space of three minutes in a 3-1 win over Piacenza on Sunday to keep them level at the top with Juventus, also 3-1 winners at Como on Saturday.

But Italian football was marred by events in Turin on Saturday which led to third-place Milan's match against Torino being stopped in the 64th minute as fans clashed with police as they attempted to invade the pitch. Milan were leading 3-0 when the game was halted.

It was the second time a Serie A match has had to be abandoned this season due to crowd trouble and left the country asking questions about what should be done to stop the alarming rise in hooliganism.

"These things happen in Italy, they don't happen in Spain. In England teams that are relegated get applauded off the field," said Italian Football League president Adriano Galliano.

LIGHTNING ARSENAL

Champions Arsenal roared five points clear in the English premier league with a 5-1 drubbing of Manchester City, as second-placed Manchester United stumbled to a 1-1 draw at lowly Bolton Wanderers.

Arsenal, held 1-1 at home by Ajax in the Champions League last week, prepared in style for Wednesday's trip to Amsterdam to face the Dutch side, who lost ground to leaders PSV after a 1-0 defeat by Utrecht. PSV are now seven points clear.

Arsenal's lightning start at Maine Road resulted in four goals in the first 18 minutes, with Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires, Thierry Henry and Sol Campbell all getting on the score sheet, before captain Patrick Vieira made it five in the second half.

"We wanted to put a great performance in today to keep the confidence high before the Ajax game and of course to extend our lead in the league," said manager Arsene Wenger.

Real Sociedad re-established their two-point lead in the Spanish first division with a 2-0 win over Osasuna on Sunday. Real Madrid had gone top after beating Valladolid 3-1 on Saturday, with goals from Brazil duo Roberto Carlos and Ronaldo and a late strike from Javier Portillo.

Reigning champions Valencia, in third, kept up the pressure on the leaders with a 4-0 drubbing away at Rayo Vallecano, while fourth-placed Deportivo Coruno also made their mark with a 6-0 rout of Alaves.

BAYERN INVESTIGATION

Bayern Munich did not let an investigation from the German Football League (DFL) distract them from their bid for another German title. They widened their leading margin to 10 points over reigning champions Borussia Dortmund after a 2-0 win over Nuremburg. Dortmund came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 in their Ruhr Valley derby at Schalke 04.

Bayern are under investigation from the DFL after admitting to receiving a top-up of 42 million marks ($18.95 million) for marketing rights under a secret deal with the troubled KirchMedia group. The DFL has not ruled out taking Bayern to court.

Source:
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