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Record for AS Roma, Arsenal win

Martyn Herman | January 19, 2004 11:00 IST

AS Roma set a half-season points record in Serie A on Sunday, while in England Arsenal took another step towards a landmark of their own.

Spanish champions Real Madrid had less to be pleased about, however, turning in a patchy performance in a 1-1 draw at Real Betis to miss out on the Primera Liga top spot.

Captain Francesco Totti scored twice as Roma stayed top in Italy with a 3-1 victory over Sampdoria that gave them 42 points from 16 games, three more than champions Juventus and AC Milan.

Alessandro del Piero scored a hat-trick for Juve in a 4-2 win over mid-table Siena while Milan defender Giuseppe Pancaro scored the only goal against Brescia.

Prolific Frenchman Thierry Henry was on target twice for Arsenal as they beat Aston Villa 2-0 away on Sunday to knock Manchester United off the top of the premier league.

Henry scored with a controversial free kick and a disputed penalty to maintain Arsenal's 22-match unbeaten start to the season that has Arsene Wenger's side closing in on the record of 29 unbeaten held by Leeds (1973-74) and Liverpool (1987-88).

United's shock 1-0 defeat at lowly Wolverhampton Wanderers means they have failed to score in their last two premier league games and leaves the champions two points behind Arsenal.

They will hope to wrap up the signing of Fulham's French striker Louis Saha on Monday after the London club issued a statement on Sunday saying they had agreed to his leaving.

Chelsea stay in third place, six points adrift, after they were held 0-0 at home by Birmingham City -- fuelling speculation that billionaire owner Roman Abramovich may dip into the transfer market for a new striker, possibly Inter Milan's Christian Vieri.

Vieri, who was fined by Inter for missing an Italian Cup match, was left out of Inter's 1-0 Serie A defeat against Empoli which leaves them in fourth place, 11 points off the pace.

In Spain, champions Real Madrid's mid-season stutter continued at Betis where they needed a second-half equaliser from Ronaldo to scramble a point after Joaquin had given the home side a deserved lead.

Madrid, who were beaten by Real Sociedad last week, remain in second place, a point behind Valencia who could only scrape a goalless draw at Valladolid on Saturday.

Deportivo Coruna moved into contention in third place with a 4-1 victory against Real Zaragoza -- Diego Tristan scoring twice for the Galician club who are just four points behind Valencia.

The leading clubs in France also had a frustrating weekend, with Monaco and second-placed Paris St Germain both being held to goalless draws by Bastia and Metz respectively.

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