Arsenal equal unbeaten record


LONDON: Arsenal clocked up a record-equalling unbeaten start to the season yesterday with a nervy 2-1 win over Bolton Wanderers that kept them nine points clear at the top of the premier league. 

Goals from Robert Pires and Dennis Bergkamp ensured Arsenal matched the feat of Leeds United in 1973-74 and Liverpool in 1987-88 of going 29 top-flight league matches without defeat from the start of a season. 

Arsenal, with 73 points, did not extend their lead at the top, though, after second-placed Chelsea beat Fulham 2-1 in the west London derby and champions Manchester United trounced Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 to reach 61 points in third place. 

A last-minute goal from Sami Hyypia gave Liverpool a 1-0 win over lowly Wolverhampton Wanderers, teenage England forward Wayne Rooney scored for 10-man Everton as they drew 1-1 with Leicester City and League Cup winners Middlesbrough won a goal-fest with Birmingham City 5-3. 

The game in Leicester was overshadowed by tragedy, after an Everton fan was fatally injured outside the stadium by a piece of flying debris on a day of high winds. 

“The man was hit by flying debris as a result of high winds, in Upperton Road, Leicester, at approximately 14.18 GMT this afternoon and received fatal injuries,” police said in a statement. 

Bergkamp, who is seeking a new one-year contract to keep him at Highbury next season, made one and scored another as Arsenal rattled up a ninth consecutive league win despite an unconvincing second half. 

The Dutchman forward deftly laid off a flighted pass from Edu into the path of France winger Pires, who had time and space to tuck home a curling shot after 16 minutes. 

Bergkamp followed up by meeting Thierry Henry's cross on the break with a half-volley, before Spanish defender Ivan Campo pulled one back in a goalmouth scramble in the 40th minute. 

But Arsene Wenger's treble-chasing side lived dangerously in the second half, when Bolton's Kevin Davies and Campo both missed great chances to equalise. 

Chelsea, who host Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday in a Champions League quarter-final first leg tie, kept the pressure on their rivals with a workmanlike win over Fulham. 

Icelandic striker Eidur Gudjohnsen fired them into a seventh minute lead, Fulham levelled with Mark Pembridge's deflected free-kick but Irish playmaker Damien Duff, Chelsea's best player, restored their lead before the break. 

Though lacking sparkle in the second half, it was enough to move Claudio Ranieri's side on to 64 points with nine league games left to play. 

United, who face Arsenal in an FA Cup semi-final next month, needed a late flurry to see off Spurs and record their first win in five league games. 

An inspired Ryan Giggs put United ahead, meeting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's cross from the right with a clever backheel. 

But it needed winger Cristiano Ronaldo to put the result beyond doubt with a 20-metre shot in the 89th minute and fellow substitute David Bellion to add the third a minute later. 

Liverpool moved on to 45 points and the coveted fourth slot – worth a place in the Champions League qualifiers for next season –for at least a few hours. 

Newcastle United (42pts) were playing Charlton Athletic (43pts) in a 1730GMT kick-off. – Agencies 

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