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Rediff.com  » Sports » Chelsea begin Scolari era with 4-0 win over Portsmouth, Newcastle hold Man U

Chelsea begin Scolari era with 4-0 win over Portsmouth, Newcastle hold Man U

Last updated on: August 18, 2008 10:05 IST

Champions Manchester United were held to a 1-1 draw by Newcastle United but Chelsea crushed Portsmouth 4-0 when the two favourites for the title began their Premier League campaigns on Sunday.

United, without Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez and Owen Hargreaves, were rocked when Newcastle went ahead at Old Trafford, the unmarked Obafemi Martins powering home a header after 22 minutes.

United were level, though, inside two minutes when Darren Fletcher put the finishing touch to a fine sweeping move.

In contrast to the champions' faltering start, Chelsea, who finished as runners-up to United last season, gave their new Brazilian coach Luiz Felipe Scolari the perfect start with a stunning four-goal rout of Portsmouth at Stamford Bridge.

It took Chelsea just 12 minutes to take the lead on a gloriously sunny day in west London when Joe Cole fired past his England goalkeeping colleague David James after being set up by Michael Ballack.

Nicolas Anelka took advantage of slack Portsmouth defending to head them 2-0 ahead in the 26th minute and Frank Lampard made it 3-0 from the penalty spot just before halftime after Sylvain Distin was harshly judged to have handled a cross from Cole.

Television replays showed the ball hit his arm while his face was turned away and he made no attempt to stop the cross.

Deco, named the man of the match afterwards, capped an excellent debut when he powered home an 89th-minute strike from 25 metres which James could only help into the net.

Lampard, who signed a new five-year contract with Chelsea on Wednesday, said he was delighted with their performance that left Chelsea top of the new league table after the opening round of games.

"The first half today was as good as we can play," he told Sky Sports. "We went into the match with a real determination to do well. We didn't win anything last season and wanted to show what we are all about now."

The FA Cup winners, who had not won at Stamford Bridge for 53 years, came more into the game in the second half but rarely threatened to salvage anything from a match the home side totally dominated.

Aston Villa beat Manchester City 4-2 in the other match played on Sunday with Gabriel Agbonlahor scoring a hat-trick in seven minutes midway through the second half to lead Villa to victory.

Six matches were played on Saturday with Arsenal and Liverpool, who are expected to challenge for the title along with United and Chelsea, among the winners.

Arsenal beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0 at the Emirates Stadium while Liverpool won 1-0 at Sunderland.

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