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Rediff.com  » Sports » Images: United march on as City stumble

Images: United march on as City stumble

Last updated on: September 19, 2011 00:19 IST

Images: United march on as City stumble

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Free-scoring Manchester United's rip-roaring start to the Premier League season continued with a 3-1 defeat of Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday after rivals Manchester City threw away a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw at Fulham.

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Goals from Chris Smalling, Nani and Wayne Rooney mean Alex Ferguson's side boast the only 100 per cent record in the Premier League after five games and lead the table by two points from City, who were left kicking themselves.

Liverpool's top-four ambitions were exposed in a 4-0 mauling at Tottenham Hotspur where they had Charlie Adam and Martin Skrtel sent off in their worst league defeat since 2003.

Sunderland were also 4-0 winners at home to Stoke City.


Image: Manchester United's Nani celebrates after scoring against Chelsea at Old Trafford
Photographs: Getty Images
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Smalling opened the scoring for Manchester United

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United have made their best start to a league season for 26 years and have now beaten Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Chelsea at Old Trafford, scoring 14 goals in the process and accumulating a plus 17 goal difference.

Yet despite leading 3-0 at halftime it was not as straightforward as the scoreline suggested and Fernando Torres, who finally doubled his Chelsea goal tally with his side's reply, could have made it a nervy finale had the Spaniard not inexplicably blazed wide late on with the goal gaping.

United took the lead after eight minutes when the unmarked and possibly offside Smalling met a curling delivery from Ashley Young to power a header past Petr Cech.

Torres, who gave one of his most lively displays since arriving from Liverpool in January, missed a chance to level and teammate Ramires also gave United a let-off when he shot straight at United keeper David De Gea.


Image: Chris Smalling scores for Manchester United against Chelsea

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Nani stunner doubles Man Utd's lead

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Nani punished Chelsea in spectacular style when the Portuguese cut in from the right after 37 minutes and arrowed an unstoppable shot into the top corner.

It looked all over for Chelsea just before the interval when Nani blocked skipper John Terry's attempted clearance and the ball fell invitingly for the grateful Rooney to fire his ninth league goal of the season.

Torres cut the deficit immediately after the break when he ran on to Nicolas Anelka's through ball and expertly flicked the ball over De Gea with the outside of his right foot.


Image: Nani dribbles the ball past Chelsea's Raul Meireles

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Rooney misses a penalty

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Rooney wasted the chance to make it 4-1 when he slipped while taking a spot kick after Nani had been fouled in the area trying to reach a rebound after he had rattled the crossbar.

Chelsea were always in the game, however, and troubled Torres was left shaking his head when he rounded De Gea with eight minutes left but somehow failed to find the back of the net.


Image: Wayne Rooney reacts after missing a penalty

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City held by Fulham

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Earlier, Roberto Mancini's City side, who had matched United step for step this season, seemed set to make it five wins from five as two Sergio Aguero goals put them in charge at Craven Cottage but Fulham had other ideas and hit back through Bobby Zamora and Danny Murphy.

Aguero took his Manchester City goal tally to eight since joining from Atletico Madrid -- firing the visitors ahead from a David Silva pass after 18 minutes and then pouncing again immediately after the halftime interval.

Fulham replied when Zamora curled in a shot and Martin Jol's side earned a share of the points in the 75th minute when Murphy's shot deflected into the net off Vincent Kompany.

"It's incredible, we lost two points after we scored two goals and dominated the game, but I think this can be a lesson for us. When we have the chances we should score," Mancini told the BBC.


Image: Manchester City's Sergio Aguero celebrates after scoring against Fulham

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Spurs crush Liverpool

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Tottenham cashed in on a woeful Liverpool display with Emmanuel Adebayor scoring twice and Luka Modric and Jermain Defoe getting one apiece at White Hart Lane.

Liverpool collected seven points from their opening three games but defeat at Stoke City last weekend halted their progress and Sunday's poor display will raise questions about their ability to challenge for a top-four finish after another average season last term.

Kenny Dalglish's side began sluggishly and fell behind when Modric produced a moment of pure class, smashing a right-foot shot into the top corner of the net after the ball came back off Defoe on the edge of the area.


Image: Emmannuel Adebayor celebrates after scoring against Liverpool

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Adam sent off after 28 minutes

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Big-spending Liverpool's afternoon took a turn for the worse when Adam, who had already been cautioned, caught Scott Parker with a lunge and was shown a red card after 28 minutes.

Tottenham failed to turn their domination into more goals until Skrtel was dismissed in the 63rd minute for a foul on Gareth Bale having already been booked.

After that it was one-way traffic with Defoe lashing a low shot past Pepe Reina and two minutes later Adebayor displayed clever feet to side-foot home after Reina failed to gather Defoe's low shot.

The Togo striker, who used to score regularly for Arsenal against Tottenham before moving to Manchester City, then further endeared himself to the White Hart Lane faithful with a powerful second goal from close range in stoppage time.


Image: Liverpool's Charlie Adam recieves a red card from referee
Photographs: Reuters
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Blackburn stun Arsenal

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Blackburn Rovers heaped more misery on Arsenal when they came from behind to beat Arsene Wenger's side 4-3 for their first league win of the season on a good day for the Premier League underdogs on Saturday.

Blackburn's victory, which included two Arsenal own goals, helped them climb off the bottom of the table while all three promoted sides won on the same day for the first time since Feb. 2010.

The day's opening match produced a seven-goal thriller with Blackburn twice coming from behind to beat Arsenal as Aiyegbeni Yakubu scored twice on his Rovers debut and Alex Song and Laurent Koscielny put through their own net to give Rovers the points.

Arsenal, returning to the north west for the first time since being beaten 8-2 by Manchester United three weeks ago, took the lead when Gervinho scored his first goal for the club after 10 minutes.


Image: Wojciech Szczesny and Theo Walcott of Arsenal react after losing to Blackburn

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Yakubu the star for Blackburn

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Yakubu equalised 15 minutes later before his former Everton teammate Mikel Arteta, who scored for Everton at Ewood Park three weeks ago, put Arsenal back in front after 34 minutes with a rising shot from the edge of the box.

Blackburn were level again after 50 minutes when Arsenal failed to clear a free kick and the ball bounced off Song's thigh and past goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny for the equaliser.

Nine minutes later Yakubu scored from point-blank range and was ruled onside to make it 3-2 and 10 minutes after that a stunning break from Blackburn which involved Junior Hoilett and substitute Martin Olsson ended with Olsson's cutback being turned into his own goal by Koscielny to make it 4-2.

Substitute Marouane Chamakh scored with a superb header to give Arsenal hope with five minutes remaining but Rovers survived a late onslaught to ease the pressure on manager Steve Kean after 250 fans staged a protest march before the game calling for his sacking.


Image: Yakubu celebrates after scoring against Arsenal

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Swansea takeoff

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Swansea City -- who failed to score in their opening four matches -- won for the first time, beating West Bromwich Albion 3-0 at the Liberty Stadium with Scott Sinclair scoring their first goal in the top flight since 1983 with a first-half penalty.

Queens Park Rangers won 3-0 at Wolverhampton Wanderers with new skipper Joey Barton grabbing the opener while Norwich City won their first game of the season 2-1 at 10-man Bolton Wanderers even though Norwich conceded a penalty for the fifth successive league match.

In the day's other matches Everton came from behind to beat Wigan Athletic 3-1 at Goodison Park while Aston Villa drew 1-1 with Newcastle United at Villa Park.


Image: DJ Campbell of Queens Park Rangers celebrates his goal against Wolverhampton Wanderers

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