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Champions Are Flexing Their Might


European champion Real Madrid, English champion Arsenal and Spanish champion Valencia each kept their Champions League record perfect Wednesday with convincing victories.

Real Madrid, despite being without injured World Cup-winning stars Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo, overwhelmed Genk of Belgium, 6-0, in front of 60,000 at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid.

The Belgian team held its own for 43 minutes, then gave up two goals before halftime and four more in the second 45 minutes.

"We could never compete with the individual talent of the Real players," Genk Coach Sef Vergoossen said.

Arsenal, which "did the double" last season by winning the English Premier League and the F.A. Cup, was even more impressive, shutting out PSV Eindhoven of the Netherlands, 4-0, on the road.

Brazil World Cup winner Gilberto Silva, a recent acquisition, scored the fastest goal in the 10-year history of the Champions League, and one of the fastest ever in European competition, by putting Arsenal ahead a mere 20.07 seconds into the game.

A goal by Sweden's Fredrik Ljungberg and two more by Frenchman Thierry Henry completed the rout over the Dutch team coached by Guus Hiddink.

Equally noteworthy was Valencia's 3-0 drubbing of Spartak Moscow in Russia, where Miguel Angel Angulo, Mista and Juan Sanchez each scored.

Viktor Samokhin, Spartak's assistant coach, afterward lambasted the Russian champions, who have not won a Champions League match in two years, a 13-game stretch.

"I just have no words to describe our performance tonight," he said. "Never in the whole history of Russian football have we witnessed such a lackluster performance by our team."

In other games Wednesday, four-time European champion Liverpool was held to a 1-1 tie at home by Basel of Switzerland; AEK Athens and AS Roma played to a scoreless tie in Greece, and Inter Milan managed a 1-0 victory in Italy over Dutch champion Ajax Amsterdam, courtesy of a goal by Argentina's Hernan Crespo.

Elsewhere, French champion Olympique Lyon trounced Norwegian champion Rosenborg Trondheim, 5-0, in Lyon, and German champion Borussia Dortmund edged Auxerre of France, 2-1, in Germany.

Only six of the 32 Champions League teams remain unbeaten and untied two games into the 2002-2003 tournament: Real Madrid, Arsenal, Valencia, Manchester United, AC Milan and Barcelona.

Old Ball Gets $51,210

The ball used in the 1888 English F.A. Cup final between West Bromwich Albion and Preston North End was bought by an anonymous buyer for $51,210 at an auction in London on Tuesday but was not the most expensive soccer item sold.

That honor went to the Copa Italia trophy won by Torino in 1943, which was bought from Christie's by a representative of the Italian club for $73,150.

Ronaldo's Wife Signs

Real Madrid might have snapped up Ronaldo for $46.3 million, but a less-fashionable club in the same Spanish city has achieved a coup of sorts by signing the Brazilian star's wife.

Rayo Vallecano announced that it had signed Milene Domingues, 22, to a contract through the end of the season to play for its women's team.

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