Chelsea, Man City win as Premier League starts

The Premier League season opened on Saturday with Chelsea showing the fighting spirit it is going to need if it is to reclaim the title.

updated: August 15, 2009 16:35 IST
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The Premier League season opened on Saturday with Chelsea showing the fighting spirit it is going to need if it is to reclaim the title and Manchester City getting an early return from its heavy summer spending.

Chelsea trailed to visiting Hull but Didier Drogba hit his second goal of the game in the 90th minute to secure a 2-1 victory, while City won 2-0 at Blackburn through goals by Emmanuel Adebayor and Stephen Ireland.

But there was an element of luck to Drogba's winning goal, with the Ivory Coast striker's attempted cross floating over goalkeeper Boaz Myhill and in at the far post from an acute angle.

"I was trying for a cross," Drogba said. "It was difficult but it's always good to win the first game. The belief is strong, as always. Today, we showed we will try till the end of the game.

"We were lucky to score, but the desire is always there."

The win gave Chelsea an early lift in its attempt to clinch the league for the first time since 2006 and end Manchester United's record-equaling run of three straight titles.

The defending champion hosts Birmingham on Sunday, when last season's runner-up Liverpool is at Tottenham. Arsenal, which could also be a strong contender this season, was at Everton later Saturday.

Manchester City has spent almost 100 million pounds ($166 million) on new players since the end of last season and one of its new recruits put the club 1-0 up in the third minute of his debut.

Adebayor, signed from Arsenal for 25 million pounds, took a pass by Shaun Wright-Phillips and smashed the ball into the net from the edge of the area.

Blackburn had chances to equalize but Ireland made the game safe for City, which has not won any trophies since 1976, when he calmly placed the ball past goalkeeper Paul Robinson in the last minute.

It was the first time in a year that City's defense held out an opposition attack away from home.

Another debut-making striker, Sunderland's Darren Bent, scored in the fifth minute to give his new team a 1-0 win at Bolton, while Stoke beat Burnley 2-0 in the visitors' first topflight match since 1976.

Aston Villa finished sixth last season but was jeered from the field by its fans after a 2-0 loss to visiting Wigan. Hugo Rodallega put Wigan ahead in the 31st when he volleyed in a dropping ball from the corner of the area and Jason Koumas struck 11 minutes into the second half with his first goal from open play in two years with the club.

"It's a very good start," Wigan manager Roberto Martinez said after his first Premier League game. "Any win in the Premier League is a difficult one and it's down to the players. They were brave on the ball against a top club."

Fulham did not win in its first 14 away games last season, nor in the first 17 away games the year before, but opened with a 1-0 victory at Portsmouth on Saturday.

Bobby Zamora, who scored just two goals in 35 Premier League games last season, scored the winning goal in the 13th minute against a team that has sold many of its best players to reduce its debt.

West Ham beat the other promoted team, Wolverhampton Wanderers, 2-0 at Mollineux through goals by Mark Noble and Matthew Upson.

The second-tier League Championship opened last weekend and Coventry made it two wins from two games by beating Barnsley 2-0. Promotion favorite West Bromwich Albion profited from an own-goal to win 1-0 at Nottingham Forest, while Newcastle played Reading later on Saturday.