Manchester United won their first match of the season with a 2-1 victory over Norwich City at Old Trafford.

Goals from David Bellion and a superb effort by Alan Smith secured Sir Alex Ferguson’s team with the three points. Paul McVeigh pulled a goal back for the visitors and pushed United back, but the home side held on.

United broke the deadlock on 32 minutes when Ryan Giggs crossed from the left for Smith, whose flick-on was smashed home by Bellion.

The Red Devils came out after the break and upped a gear. They doubled their advantage with an early contender for goal of the season on 50 minutes.

Giggs was involved again when he headed a long ball into the path of Smith. The United striker lined up a volley from 12 yards that he met sweetly and watched the ball sail in off the post.

But United sat back after their second and allowed the Canaries to fight back. They got their reward 15 minutes from the end when substitute McVeigh took the ball into the box, skipped past John O’ Shea, and drilled past goalkeeper Tim Howard at the near post.

And the visitors nearly snatched an equaliser when Leon McKenzie fired inches wide with just Howard to beat.

Ferguson was happy with his team’s performance and hailed match-winner Alan Smith after his stunning volley.

The Scot said: “He’s a real handful for any defender and was magnificent. He’s similar to Mark Hughes when he was here. It was a sort of Mark Hughes goal, a replica.”

City manager, Nigel Worthington, could not hide his disappointment after the defeat.

He confessed: “I was disappointed with their first goal, but no complaints about the second. It’s about self-belief. That’s what the Premiership is all about.”

Liverpool celebrated their first win under new manager, Rafael Benitez, with a 2-1 victory over Manchester City in front of 43, 831 fans at Anfield.

But the Merseyside team had to fight back from being a goal down. City were gifted the lead on the stroke of half time through Nicolas Anelka after a terrible mistake by Reds goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek.

The Polish shot stopper failed to gather a back header from Jamie Carragher and Anelka latched onto the loose ball to fire home from an acute angle.

But two second half goals by Milan Baros and skipper Steven Gerrard stole the points for the home side.

Gerrard picked out Baros with an inch perfect pass on 48 minutes and Czech striker drove his shot from inside the box past City goalkeeper, David James.

And the ex-Liverpool keeper was picking the ball out of the net again on 75 minutes when he failed to deal with Baros’ shot. Gerrard was on hand to rifle the rebound into a gaping net.

City were then reduced to ten men on 85 minutes after David Dunne picked up a second booking.

New Reds boss, Benitez, hailed his team’s spirit and was delighted with his first Premiership win.

The Spaniard said: “It’s very good to win at home and it’s good because the supporters are happy. The team played well in the second half and we could have scored more goals.”

But former Anfield favourite and City boss, Kevin Keegan, blasted referee Graham Poll. Keegan felt Baros was offside in the build up to Liverpool’s winner.

He said: “When a referee calls his linesman to the left-hand side of the tunnel and asks for the police to come around him at the end of the game, it suggests he may feel he is going to be questioned by players and management. That says it all.

“Our lads came back from an offside position to be involved in the build-up to the goal and the referee didn’t give it.”

Chelsea continued their winning start to the season with a hard fought 1-0 win over Birmingham City at St Andrews.

The winner came 20 minutes from time, when England hopeful Joe Cole produced a moment of magic when he skipped his way into the box and fired past City keeper, Maik Taylor, via Martin Taylor’s leg.

The goal was harsh on Steve Bruce’s men who had looked the better team from the start. They dominated possession for the majority of the match but could not break Chelsea’s brilliantly organised defensive unit.

Bruce said: “I am a bit frustrated today, as it was just the same last week. I think everyone in the ground knows we deserved something from the game.”

And the St Andrews’ boss was quick to defend midfielder Robbie Savage after the Welshman was sent off for an elbow to Mateja Kezman.

He said: “He caught him with his forearm but it was an accident. It wasn’t malicious or premeditated.”

Chelsea boss, Jose Mourinho, insisted results were important to him after being questioned about Chelsea’s somewhat negative play.

He reiterated: “As I said it is better to win 1-0 than lose 4-5, that is what I said on my first day.”

Jacques Santini celebrated his first Premiership win as Spurs manager after his team beat Newcastle United 1-0 away from home at St James’ Park.

A stunning solo effort from Cameroon international, Thimothee Atouba, on 51 minutes, was enough to secure three points for the north London club.

The visitors were a constant menace on the counter-attack and capitalised after a mistake from Laurent Robert.

Jamie Redknapp stole the ball from the French winger and sprayed the ball to Atouba on the left flank.

He then cut in from the touchline and bent a stunning shot past Shay Given in the Magpies goal.

Second half substitute, Sheola Ameobi, should have rescued a point for the home side, but he scuffed Olivier Bernard’s pass and Newcastle tamely surrendered the points.

Santini was overjoyed with the win and praised his players for a disciplined result.
The Frenchman said: “I give congratulations to my young team because this game was a difficult game against a good Newcastle team. I am very happy.”

Toon boss, Sir Bobby Robson, rued his team’s missed chances and admitted it was a proverbial match of two halves.

He said: “We made chances, but the trick in football is when you make chances, you have to get one and get in the lead. We were always the better side in the first half, no doubt about that.

“After that goal, we were not the same side as in the first half, to be honest.”

A controversial injury-time winner by James Beattie was not enough to save Southampton manager, Paul Sturrock, in a thrilling 3-2 win over Blackburn Rovers at St Mary’s on Saturday.

Beattie was adjudged to have been pushed by Rovers defender, Craig Short, in the box and coolly slotted home the resulting penalty in stoppage time.

Earlier, Kevin Phillips had given the home team the lead in a dreadful first half. The Saints’ forward slipped free from the Rovers defence and stabbed the ball past goalkeeper Brad Friedel from close range on 32 minutes.

But goals from Barry Ferguson on 50 minutes and summer signing Paul Dickov on 67 minutes gave Rovers a second half advantage.

A neat one-two from the pair allowed Ferguson to equalise when he fired the ball underneath Southampton keeper, Antti Niemi.

And Dickov put the visitors in front when he swivelled and thumped the ball into the roof of the net.

But Matthias Svensson got the Saints’ back on level terms when he cut his foot across the ball to send his shot bending beyond Friedel. Beattie then converted the dubious penalty to hand the hosts the points after Short was penalised for an aerial challenge.

Southampton Chairman, Rupert Lowe, issued a statement on the club’s official website confirming Sturrock’s departure from the Saints by mutual consent after two games of the new season.

Rovers’ manager, Graeme Souness bemoaned the penalty awarded by referee Andy D’ Urso.

He said: “I think their penalty was debatable at best. I hope it evens itself out, but we said that a lot last season and it didn’t.”

A howler from Portsmouth goalkeeper, Shaka Hislop, gifted Charlton with a 2-1 victory at the Valley on Saturday.

This entertaining match appeared to be heading for a stalemate. But Pompey’s experienced shot stopper let a downward header from teammate, David Unsworth, slip under his body and agonisingly trickle into the net three minutes from time.

Width proved to be the key for the hosts during the first half and Jason Euell opened the scoring after 23 minutes when he stabbed home a cross from six yards out.

But Harry Redknapp’s visitors were level on 53 minutes with a goal from the top drawer from Czech Patrick Berger. The former Liverpool midfielder produced a goal from nothing as he flicked up a pass with his back to goal swivelled and struck an unstoppable volley from 30 yards out.

Dean Kiely in goal for Charlton had no chance as the ball dipped over his despairing dive into the far right corner of the net.

But fortunes turned the Addicks’ way in the final few minutes as Hislop’s blunder handed Alan Curbishley’s men with the points.

Redknapp stated his side were “unlucky to lose” and defended his number one.

He said: “Shaka has been fantastic for two years now and he makes very few mistakes but he’s made one there. It’s just one of those things, but it is so unlike him.”

Curbishley was relieved to get some points on the board after their opening day thrashing to Bolton.

He commented: “I think we did deserve the victory and we did enough to win the game but it is the style in which we won that people will talk about.”

Fulham returned to Craven Cottage in winning style with a well-deserved 2-0 win over Bolton Wanderers on Saturday.

The crowd on a sunny afternoon in west London saw Zat Knight’s shot from the edge of the box take a fortunate deflection off Andy Cole after five minutes. The ball went into the net from six yards much to the home faithful’s delight.

Both teams had chances in the second half. Collins John nearly doubled the Cottagers advantage and Kevin Nolan nearly equalised for the visitors.

But a right-foot strike by Cole on 82 minutes beat Jussi Jaaskelainen in the Trotters’ goal to give the striker his 200th goal in league football and earn three points for his team.

Fulham manager, Chris Coleman, was delighted with Cole, his new summer signing.

He said: “We’re in a position to sign players of his quality and we needed somebody like Andy (Cole) in after losing Louis Saha to Manchester United last year.

“He missed a few, but he’s got two. That’s why I brought him to the club.”

Bolton boss, Sam Allardyce, blasted his side for their poor performance.

He raged: “We got what we deserved. I didn’t expect a performance as poor as that after the win over Charlton last week.

“From a high level, we’ve gone straight to complete disaster. Our defending was abysmal and we couldn’t pass the ball properly.”

Everton beat Crystal Palace 3-1 at Selhurst Park on Saturday. Palace had been winning the match but were dealt a harsh dose of Premiership reality as the Toffees recorded their first win of the season.

The Eagles took a ninth minute lead when Mark Hudson’s firm header left Everton keeper Nigel Martyn with no chance from.

But a brace from Thomas Gravesen helped the visitors to a comfortable victory. The first was from the spot when Palace keeper, Julian Speroni, tried to dribble around Kevin Campbell from a back pass and felled the striker when dispossessed. The Dane converted to Speroni’s left on 19 minutes.

He claimed his and Everton’s second on 62 minutes when he unleashed a ferocious drive from the edge of the box into the top corner.

Palace had a penalty claim waved away by referee Mark Clattenburg before man-of-the-match, Gravesen, sent Marcus Bent through on 82 minutes. The former Leicester striker clipped the ball past the advancing Speroni to give Everton their first away league win in 2004.

Everton’s only down point was 20 minutes from time when Gary Naysmith was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Everton manager David Moyes was satisfied after the game.

He said: “I’m pleased as we showed character and desire to win, coming from behind and then we were down to ten men.”

Eagles’ boss, Iain Dowie, remained up beat and insisted his side could take many positives from the game.

He said: “We had four or five very good chances and could have been two or three up in the game. We gifted them a goal, which we are disappointed about and gave them a lift. It’s a bitter blow.”

On Sunday, Arsenal extended their unbeaten streak to 42 league games with a stunning 5-3 victory over Middlesborough at Highbury.

But the Gunners fought the hard way as they clawed back from behind after being 3-1 down.

Arsene Wenger’s side knew that avoiding defeat at Highbury would see them equal Nottingham Forest’s top-flight record of 42 games without a loss.

Thierry Henry gave them the lead on 25 minutes but Steve McClaren’s side grabbed an equaliser against the run of play just before half time when Joseph Desire Job smashed the ball home with a cracking drive.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink stunned the hosts by putting Boro ahead just after the break with an equally fine strike and Franck Queudrue made it 3-1 with a long-range effort on 53 minutes.

Dennis Bergkamp grabbed an instant reply and the North Londoners then showed champion’s spirit as they turned the game on its head with two goals in 50 seconds from Robert Pires and Jose Antonio Reyes on 65 minutes.

Henry secured the points in the final minute when he tapped home Pires’ pass.
Gunners’ boss, Arsene Wenger, hailed his team and believes their form allows them to play without fear.

He said: “It could have gone both ways but our mental resources, togetherness and individual quality helped us to bounce back. I’m very proud of the strength we showed but it was a difficult victory.”

Boro boss, Steve McClaren was stunned after the match but congratulated Arsenal for their record equalling achievement.

West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa took a share of the spoils with a 1-1 draw earlier in the day at the Hawthorns.

A fast and furious West Midlands derby started on the best possible note for Villa when Olef Mellberg ghosted into the box and headed home Thomas Hitzlsperger’s free-kick after four minutes.

Carlton Cole and then Mellberg again nearly doubled the visitors lead but both were foiled superbly by Baggies keeper Russell Hoult.

The home side levelled on 38 minutes from a free kick. Neil Clement was unmarked in the box and his powerful header beat Thomas Sorenson in the Villa goal for the Baggies midfielder to claim his second goal of the season.

Villa boss, David O’ Leary, thought his side did well to hang on for a point after West Brom applied pressure towards the end.

He commented: “I think it was a point gained. I think a year ago we would have lost that game.”

His counterpart, Gary Megson, was also pleased with his team’s performance but felt missed chances stopped them claiming maximum points in front of their home supporters.

He said: “We did some nice things and if we could have scored again, it would have been the icing on the cake.”