Fri, Aug 27, 2004 - Page 22 News List

Unbeaten Arsenal sets new record

THE GREATEST A rampant Arsenal, last year's Premier League champion, beat Blackburn Rovers to break the 42-game unbeaten record held by Nottingham Forest

AGENCIES , LONDON

Arsenal's captain Dennis Bergkamp, left, battles Blackburn's Nils-Eric Johansson for the ball during their Premiership match at Highbury in London.

PHOTO: AFP

Champions Arsenal made history on Wednesday by trouncing Blackburn Rovers 3-0 at Highbury to set a 43-match unbeaten league record in English football.

Arsenal turned on the style in the second half with France striker Thierry Henry breaking the deadlock, while Spain's Francesco Fabregas later claimed their second after the Spanish teenager touched an effort by Brazil midfielder Gilberto.

Henry then set up Spanish forward Jose Antonio Reyes for an easy third as Arsene Wenger's side romped home.

Arsenal had equalled the previous 42-game record, set by Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest between November 1977 and December 1978, in a thrilling 5-3 win over Middlesbrough on Sunday.

Australia striker Mark Viduka scored on his debut as Middlesbrough beat Fulham 2-0, Newcastle United squandered a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 with promoted Norwich City and Steve Wigley's first game in charge at Southampton ended in a 2-1 home defeat by Bolton Wanderers.

Striker Francis Jeffers marked his first start for Charlton Athletic with two goals in a 3-0 win over Aston Villa, while Jacques Santini's Tottenham Hotspur drew 1-1 at West Bromwich Albion.

Though Arsenal were delighted to have set the record, the club were clearly putting Wednesday's emphasis on gathering points for further Premier League success.

Henry told Sky Sports News: "The most important thing was to get three points for the Premiership. Obviously everyone was talking about the record but we're trying to retain our title.

"Beating Nottingham Forest's record makes it a double pleasure tonight."

Their third victory in as many games sent Arsenal back to the top of the Premier League table, ahead of Chelsea on goal difference after Jose Mourinho's men beat Crystal Palace 2-0 on Tuesday.

Newcastle manager Bobby Robson was clearly disappointed at dropping two points before the home fans, saying: "We had the game won, at 2-0 you'd put your house on it."

Defending his goalkeeper, who allowed a David Bentley shot to roll beneath him, Robson said: "This is my sixth season and Shay Given has never done that in six years, so we don't criticize the goalkeeper."

Real Madrid, Manchester United and Juventus booked their Champions League places as Europe's elite teams safely negotiated the third qualifying round for the continent's leading club competition on Wednesday.

PSV Eindhoven, Bayer Leverkusen, Sparta Prague, CSKA Moscow, and Dinamo Kiev were also among sides to progress, with former European champions Red Star Belgrade and Scotland's Rangers the highest-profile losers.

Juventus, held 2-2 at home by Djurgarden in the first leg, secured a 4-1 victory in Sweden.

Brazil striker Ronaldo scored two early goals to lead Real Madrid, seeking their 10th European Cup, to a 3-1 win over Wisla Krakow of Poland which sealed a 5-1 aggregate victory.

Ronaldo bundled in a Luis Figo cross at the far post before poking home following good work by fullback Michel Salgado just past the half hour.

Francisco Pavon's powerful header five minutes from time settled the tie before midfielder Damian Gorawski netted a consolation for the Polish side.

Manchester United defeated Dinamo Bucharest 3-0 at Old Trafford to advance 5-1 on aggregate.

England forward Alan Smith produced two clinical close-range finishes soon after halftime to set up a comfortable win for the injury-hit English team who have twice lifted the European Cup.

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