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***

Sturridge match-winner again as Mignolet makes vital late save

Aston Villa 0 Liverpool 1

Daniel Sturridge proved Liverpool's match-winner for a second successive weekend as the Merseyside club edged out Aston Villa to make their best start to a Premier League season for five years.

The Birmingham-born striker, who started his youth career with Villa, delivered a moment of pure quality midway through the first half, receiving Jose Enrique's left-wing pass before dancing past two defenders, rounding Brad Guzan and transferring his balance to poke home with his left foot.

It came after the England marksman fired the Reds to a 1-0 opening-day win over Stoke, leaving Brendan Rodgers' side with six points from their first two league games for the first time since 2008.

Liverpool finished second to Manchester United that season and, although that appears unlikely this term, Rodgers can only be delighted with the start his side have made without the suspended Luis Suarez.

For Villa, it was their third game in a tough opening eight days of the new season after victory at Arsenal and defeat at Chelsea, and they appeared off the pace in the opening 40 minutes against a sharper Reds side.

A late flurry at the end of the first half set the tone for a second period in which the hosts dominated and could well have taken a share of the spoils. Liverpool's new goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, who saved a late penalty against Stoke, denied the in-form Christian Benteke with a superb one-handed stop.

There was plenty of cause for optimism for a youthful Villa side who have already showed signs of development from the one which struggled against relegation last term, despite failing to keep a Premier League clean sheet for a club-record 25th match.

Villa manager Paul Lambert handed full debuts to summer signings Jores Okore and Leandro Bacuna, while Rodgers kept faith with the starting XI who saw off Stoke.

Both sides looked to feel each other out inside the opening 15 minutes, with the visitors showing the greater incision, although neither goalkeeper was forced into action.

Philippe Coutinho sent an effort high and wide after good work down the left by Enrique as the Reds started to dominate possession.

And it was no surprise when they made the breakthrough after 21 minutes.

Sturridge started the move before losing his marker, Okore, and when Enrique's pass from the left was dummied by Coutinho on the edge on the area, the former Chelsea striker showed great footwork to evade two defenders as well as Guzan and convert.

The goal only further boosted Liverpool's confidence while the hosts were chasing shadows at times.

With the home faithful becoming slightly frustrated, Bacuna sent Villa's first effort harmlessly wide after 32 minutes before Benteke's control let him down at a crucial moment.

And then with half-time approaching, Villa had two decent openings.

Benteke finally forced Mignolet into action, tipping the Belgium international's effort around a post, before Andreas Weimann saw his shot deflected narrowly over the crossbar.

Lambert's side started the second half with more purpose and, roared on by a sell-out Villa Park crowd, Ashley Westwood twice fired over from distance.

Importantly, however, Mignolet was barely troubled by the time Liverpool boss Rodgers handed a debut to new loan signing Aly Cissokho in the 69th minute.

Benteke and Weimann then headed wide before an unmarked Gabriel Agbonlahor volleyed off target from 12 yards having been presented with a great chance to level.

Matt Lowton finally forced Mignolet into action from long distance before Liverpool's summer signing from Sunderland produced a superb 86th-minute stop to keep out Benteke.

Karim El Ahmadi headed on to fellow substitute Nicklas Helenius and he found Benteke, whose powerful drive was brilliantly pushed around a post by Mignolet - ensuring Villa have now beaten the Reds just once in their last 16 Premier League meetings at Villa Park.

***

Giroud and two goals for Podolski ease pressure on Wenger

Fulham 1 Arsenal 3

Lukas Podolski scored twice as Arsenal claimed a first victory of the Barclays Premier League season with defeat of Fulham at Craven Cottage.

A 3-1 opening day loss at home to Aston Villa resulted in Arsenal supporters questioning Arsene Wenger's status as manager, expressing their unhappiness at the Gunners' lack of progress in the transfer market.

A 3-0 victory in the Champions League qualifying first leg at Fenerbahce quietened the dissenters and first-half strikes from Olivier Giroud and Podolski today lifted the mood further.

Germany striker Podolski, who has been linked with a move away from London as Wenger bids to reshape his squad before the September 2 closure of the transfer window, converted another devastating Arsenal counter-attack for a third.

On-loan Aston Villa striker Darren Bent netted on his first Fulham appearance in reply.

Bent has now scored for six clubs in the top flight, but that was as good as it got for the Cottagers, playing in front of new owner Shahid Khan.

Arsenal made two changes from the side which started the win in Istanbul.

Carl Jenkinson replaced Laurent Koscielny, with Bacary Sagna moving to centre-back, and Podolski was brought in for Jack Wilshere, who was on the bench.

Former Tottenham midfielder Scott Parker made his debut for Fulham, who beat Sunderland last weekend, to play for his fifth London club.

Arsenal had the better of the opening skirmishes in torrential rain.

Theo Walcott beat the offside trap to meet Aaron Ramsey's lofted pass with a first-time shot which was saved by David Stockdale, in for shoulder injury victim Maarten Stekelenburg.

Ramsey was getting space and soon afterwards, from the right channel, fired in a shot which hit Giroud, but deflected kindly into the striker's path.

Giroud was composed enough to control the ball before tucking it under Stockdale.

Wojciech Szczesny then made a double save, first stopping an angled effort from the left by Adel Taarabt before quickly getting to his feet to stop the rebound from Damien Duff.

The conditions meant the ball had added zip, while also lacking bounce in some areas, but it was difficult for players to keep their feet.

After Ramsey was booked for one too many mis-timed challenges, Sagna flew in on Dimitar Berbatov, who told referee Howard Webb of his unhappiness at the challenge.

Santi Cazorla hauled down Taarabt, whose influence on proceedings was growing, as the midfielder surged towards the area. Pajtim Kasami's resulting free-kick deflected off the wall for Szczesny to save comfortably.

Ramsey tripped Kasami from behind after 34 minutes and was fortunate to avoid a second yellow card, but Webb gave him the benefit of the doubt.

Fulham had further opportunities down the left, but twice John Arne Riise failed to find his man with crosses.

From the second, Arsenal countered, Walcott burst across the area and found Kieran Gibbs, who shot well wide.

It was a warning for Fulham, who soon afterwards were ripped apart to clinical effect.

Cazorla burst down the centre and found Walcott, whose shot from a narrow angle on the right was parried by Stockdale, but only as far as the edge of the area.

Podolski met the ball and side-footed it first-time into the net.

It could - and possibly should - have been three before the interval.

Having shown his strength, Podolski was indecisive when receiving a pass from Walcott and his return was neither a shot nor a cross.

Fulham were still in contention, but had to convert their chances.

Taarabt had been Fulham's most lively operator in the first half and early in the second his left-foot shot from the edge of the box forced Szczesny to concede a corner.

Ramsey was living dangerously and pulled Taarabt over, but the on-loan QPR playmaker over-hit the resulting free-kick towards the back post.

Bent replaced Duff and Alex Kacaniklic came on for Taarabt, but still Fulham found Arsenal difficult to break down.

Again, direct running at pace was the undoing of Fulham.

Giroud pulled down a long ball for Walcott, who darted up the middle and fed Cazorla.

The Spaniard cut the ball back for Podolski, who just like in the first half, drilled the ball in left-footed past Stockdale.

With 13 minutes remaining, the Cottagers had a lifeline.

Berbatov pulled down a ball over the top and forced Szczesny to save.

Bent was the first to react, tapping in his first Fulham goal.

But it was too little, too late, as Arsenal, who were denied a fourth when Stockdale saved from Walcott, completed victory.

***

Martinez left frustrated in first match at Goodison Park

Everton 0 West Brom 0

Marouane Fellaini went the closest to scoring as new Everton boss Roberto Martinez was kept waiting for his first win by dogged West Brom.

The midfielder, subject of an approach from Manchester United this week, struck the post late on as Everton created the better chances of a tight Premier League contest at Goodison Park.

A Seamus Coleman cross-cum-shot also rattled the woodwork as the game entered injury time but the Baggies held on for a point in a lively finish.

Martinez will again feel frustrated after his side were held at Norwich in their season opener but there were plenty of encouraging signs for the Spaniard.

For West Brom, who also remain winless, there are more concerns with Steve Clarke's team looking toothless in the absence of striker Nicolas Anelka, who is on indefinite compassionate leave.

Everton always looked confident and only their lack of a killer touch in front of goal let them down.

The hosts pieced together their first promising move after six minutes when Steven Pienaar got a header on target from a Kevin Mirallas cross, although Ben Foster's save looked over-flamboyant.

Pienaar tested Foster again with a low shot from outside the area soon after and Ross Barkley, confidence no doubt swelled after last week's fine performance and goal against Norwich, drove across goal.

It took 25 minutes for West Brom to create a chance but Youssouf Mulumbu curled well wide from a Graham Dorrans cut-back.

Everton threatened again from a free-kick but Mirallas blasted into the wall and Barkley blazed well over.

Mirallas showed great skill to take a touch and then shoot from the edge of the area after a good run by Coleman but Foster tipped over.

The game became niggly as both sides felt they were harshly penalised for fouls by referee Roger East, who began to attract the ire of supporters.

The visitors had another chance when James Morrison shot wide but they finished the first half on the back foot, scrambling clear again after a Nikica Jelavic header.

Everton began the second half determined to make their superiority count but Jelavic was unable to turn in a low cross from Leighton Baines, who was also subject of a failed bid by United this week.

West Brom breathed again when Coleman drove a similarly dangerous ball through the area from the opposite side.

Barkley stuck a sweet left-foot shot from the edge of the area but Foster saved low to his right and Fellaini miscued the rebound.

Everton maintained the tempo with Mirallas shooting straight at Foster after turning inside the area.

The hosts began to grow frustrated and were almost caught out on the counter-attack when Morrison connected well from distance but Tim Howard made his first significant save.

Everton almost paid the price for some sloppiness 15 minutes from time when substitute Steven Naismith was robbed by Morrison, who quickly set up Long, but again Howard saved well.

West Brom boss Steve Clarke was forced to change his goalkeeper 12 minutes from time as Foster limped off.

Luke Daniels took his place and was beaten all ends up as Fellaini brilliantly took a Phil Jagielka cross on his chest and dabbed past, only for the ball to rebound off the post.

Arouna Kone, sent on to add fresh impetus to the Everton attack, almost stole in as West Brom struggled to clear but Daniels recovered to smother his attempt.

West Brom had a scare with 90 minutes on the clock when Coleman's cross dipped over Daniels and struck the bar, while Everton also appealed unsuccessfully for a penalty after a Barkley shot struck Billy Jones.

***

Ameobi inches away from sealing win for Magpies

Newcastle United 0 West Ham United 0

Substitute Sammy Ameobi came within inches of salvaging three priceless points for Newcastle but under-pressure Magpies manager Alan Pardew had to settle for a grim stalemate against West Ham at St James's Park.

Ameobi's injury-time cross caught the inside of Jussi Jaaskelainen's post and bounced back out to Yoan Gouffran who somehow contrived to spoon the rebound over the bar from point-blank range.

The near-miss summed up the frustrations of the home side who once again started without Frenchman Yohan Cabaye in their matchday squad and failed to muster a single shot on target through the afternoon.

Former Newcastle boss Sam Allardyce stretched his record of never having lost at his former club since his departure, but will have left the north east frustrated at not having taken all three points in a game his side edged.

Winston Reid, Kevin Nolan and substitute Joe Cole all missed good chances before the Hammers briefly thought they had won it themselves in the 89th minute when a Modibo Maiga tap-in was ruled out for offside.

The home side's best chances fell to Hatem Ben Arfa, who hit a couple of free-kicks well wide, and a misplaced back-pass by Reid which trickled inches past the post with keeper Jaaskelainen beaten.

The Hammers had looked sharper from the start, winning a third minute corner which was flicked on to the far post where the lively Reid poked a shot towards goal which was blocked by Vurnon Anita.

The home side's first foray forward in the seventh minute was brought to an end by James Collins' foul on Ben Arfa, and the same player stepped up to scoop his dangerous-looking free-kick way over the bar.

Mohamed Diame was posing the home side some threat down the right but they came closest after 13 minutes when Anita played the ball towards Papiss Cisse and Reid's interception trickled inches past his own post with Jaaskelainen beaten.

Despite that near miss the visitors continued to shade the opening exchanges, and might have gone ahead five minutes later when Guy Demel dug out a cross from deep on the right but Maiga could not quite connect in front of goal.

Ben Arfa continued to be at the centre of most of Newcastle's attacking moves, screwing a hopeful effort wide in the 25th minute, while Reid had another chance at the other end, stretching for a flick-on by Maiga only for home keeper Tim Krul to get there first.

The darkening sky gave way to rain at the start of the second half and it was the Hammers who had the first chance, Stewart Downing bursting through down the left flank but hitting his shot straight at Krul after good work from Fabricio Coloccini to jostle him out wide.

Sylvain Marveaux belatedly stirred the home fans by surging into the box after a neat one-two with Ameobi, but the Frenchman slipped as he bustled past Collins and an all-too-rare opportunity for the hosts went begging.

But the Hammers had arguably the best chance of the game on the hour when Downing found space to cross from the right and the ball deflected wide off Nolan's shoulder when the former Newcastle man really should have scored.

Allardyce made his first change in the 63rd minute, replacing debutant Downing with Cole, while Newcastle soon followed suit by bringing on Ameobi for Marveaux - a change greeted with some displeasure by the home fans.

A series of further substitutions included the 75th minute introduction of Ravel Morrison for his Premier League debut, but it was fellow sub Cole who almost won it when he screwed a rising 82nd minute effort inches wide.

After Maiga briefly thought he had clinched it for the visitors there was even later drama when Ameobi came so close to easing the pressure on Pardew.

***

Shawcross caps Potters fightback with winning goal

Stoke City 2 Crystal Palace 1

Stoke came from behind with two goals in four minutes against Crystal Palace to ensure Mark Hughes' first home game in charge of the Potters ended in victory.

The hosts went 1-0 down in the 31st minute when their slack play at the back allowed Marouane Chamakh to score on his first Palace start.

Charlie Adam equalised in the 58th, dispatching a shot beyond Julian Speroni from Jon Walters' pass.

And Ryan Shawcross - who had been outmuscled by Chamakh in the build-up to the visitors' goal - then netted what proved to be the winner in the 62nd minute, firing in when the ball ricocheted his way in the area.

The result provided Hughes with his first points since being appointed as Stoke boss over the summer, and his first Barclays Premier League win since May 2012, when he was manager at QPR.

Both Stoke and Palace were looking to bounce back from 1-0 defeats on the opening weekend of the season, and it was the home side who started the contest most brightly.

Adam drilled a low shot from outside the box into the arms of Speroni in the sixth minute and the Potters continued to pressurise, winning three corners in quick succession but not being able to make anything of it.

Dwight Gayle tried his luck at the other end in the 16th minute with a strike that Asmir Begovic got down to save, and Palace fans then appealed for a penalty when Joel Ward went down in the area under the attentions of Matthew Etherington, but referee Andre Marriner judged there had been no foul committed.

Peter Crouch passed up an opportunity to put Stoke ahead in the 21st minute, nodding Etherington's cross over the bar from inside the six-yard box.

Palace had steadily been growing into the contest and just after the half-hour mark, they snatched the lead as Chamakh made the most of some poor Stoke defending.

Alongside Shawcross, Chamakh chased a long ball which had been lofted forward by Damien Delaney, shrugged off the Potters defender with relative ease, cut inside - fooling Robert Huth - and slammed a shot past Begovic.

The hosts almost found an immediate reply as Crouch rose to get his head to Adam's delivery and sent the ball against the bar.

Palace were soon back on the attack, though, with Dean Moxey flashing an effort across the face of goal and narrowly wide.

Jose Campana then looped a free-kick over the bar as the visitors finished the first half strongly.

Stoke began the second period looking intent on getting themselves back in the game and within two minutes of the restart another good chance was missed by Crouch, with the striker completely miscuing an attempted header from a corner.

Steven Nzonzi did not do much better in skewing a shot wide five minutes later, but Stoke kept up the tempo and Jon Walters' produced an improved effort, lifting the ball over the bar.

The equaliser duly arrived soon after as Walters received the ball from Crouch's header and laid it to Adam, who placed it past Speroni into the net.

Stoke's momentum then swiftly yielded another goal as Huth and Shawcross made amends for their earlier sloppiness.

Good perseverance in the box from the former saw the ball break for Shawcross to smash it home.

Jason Puncheon went close to scoring a quick leveller, bursting into the box and unleashing a strike which Begovic slowed with a finger-tip at full stretch before smothering.

Stoke then nearly added to their tally as Nzonzi lashed the ball against the post.

Palace remained full of belief and after substitute Kevin Phillips had shot wide, Gayle was off-target with an ambitious volleyed attempt.

Gayle also produced another unsuccessful shot in stoppage time as Stoke held on for the win.

***

Brady penalty seals win for 10-man Tigers

Hull City 1 Norwich City 0

Hull survived the sending off of their Ivory Coast striker Yannick Sagbo to record what could prove a crucial victory over Norwich.

Steve Bruce's side had to play with 10 men for more than an hour after the dismissal, for an apparent head-butt, but held out well against a Canaries side that looked lacklustre.

The win was a big relief to Sagbo, who had performed a classic hero-to-villain vignette just a few minutes after winning the penalty that Robbie Brady slotted home for the only goal of the match.

Hull will be buoyed by the three points, and the impact of former Tottenham duo Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore making their first starts in central midfield.

Scoring goals will no doubt be the issue for the Tigers in the future - Bruce makes no secret that that is going to be his side's chief challenge, for despite finishing second in the Championship last season the Tigers scored five fewer goals than relegated Peterborough.

Considering that statistic, it was no surprise to see Norwich being the more adventurous side in the early stages and Leroy Fer, who was suspended for the opening match of the campaign, putting in a prodigious leap at the far post to meet Steven Whittaker's cross. It looks as though his header was in, but Hull goalkeeper Allan McGregor was relieved to see it miss the upright.

With goals set to be hard to come by, McGregor looks to be an important signing in turns of keeping them out, and he pulled off a full-length diving save to deny Nathan Redmond.

But just as it looked as though it was going to be the Canaries dominating events, Hull began to show some attacking spirit.

The tricky Sone Aluko pulled off a deft backheel which wrong-footed the Norwich defence and left Slovenian skipper Robert Koren clear on goal - but he scooped over and a golden opportunity had gone begging.

The first key event of the match arrive with 20 minutes gone, when former Tiger Michael Turner was penalised for a shove on Sagbo as the Ivory Coast international attempted to reach a deep cross.

The contact looked minimal but there were some half-hearted appeals, and more in hope than expectation so there was no little degree of surprise when referee Mike Jones pointed to the spot.

Hull have a dependable penalty expert in Irish midfielder Brady, and he made no mistake as John Ruddy dived the wrong way.

Having won the spot-kick, within five minutes Sagbo found himself sent off for an off-the-ball clash with Russell Martin. Words were exchanged between the pair before Sagbo advanced on his opponent and made contact - also pretty minimal - with his forehead and Jones wasted no time in showing the red card.

That should have been the spark to fire up Norwich but the visitors looked lacklustre with Huddlestone's calming presence in midfield. Aluko, again proving a difficult customer for the Norwich defence, wriggled into space but shot just wide as Hull made light being a player down to end the half in control.

There was a greater sense of spirit from the visitors in the second half but they appeared to lack that spark of creativity to unlock their opponents' defence.

Jonny Howson twice tried his luck from long range, the first easily collected by McGregor and the second lofted too high, before the Hull keeper produced a save of real quality to keep out Ricky van Wolfswinkel's towering header.

Even in six minutes injury-time though, Norwich appeared unadventurous, and had Hull had a bit more sharpness they could have wrapped it up in style.

***

Fonte denies Black Cats victory

Southampton 1 Sunderland 1

Jose Fonte denied Sunderland a first win of the season with a last-gasp header that earned Southampton a hard-earned point.

It had looked like an early goal from the diminutive Emanuele Giaccherini would see Paolo Di Canio's men take three points back to the north east.

Standing at just 5ft 5in, the smallest player of the pitch headed home a Sebastian Larsson corner unmarked in just the third minute.

Poor finishing, fine goalkeeping from Kieren Westwood and plain old bad luck looked set to deny Saints, only for centre-back Fonte to head home two minutes from time.

It was just reward for Mauricio Pochettino's side, who came into the clash buoyed by a fine opening-day win at West Brom and another big-money acquisition.

Following moves for Dejan Lovren and Victor Wanyama, Dani Osvaldo arrived this week from Roma for a fee that could reach £14.5million.

The forward was named amongst the substitutes at St Mary's, where another Italy international struck the first blow.

Larsson sent across a corner from the left found Giaccherini unmarked and he nodded home to the delight of the hardy 1,867 travelling fans.

It was hardly the start Southampton wanted but one they responded well to.

Rickie Lambert slipped through a fine ball to Jay Rodriguez, who slotted past Westwood and wheeled away in celebration - only for the linesman to rule the sixth-minute leveller out for offside.

Saints again came close 10 minutes later, with Westwood this time the man in the way.

James Ward-Prowse, one of three 18-year-old academy graduates in the starting line-up, sent over a looped cross to Lambert, with only an exquisite Westwood save down to his right preventing the England international heading home.

Neither side was managing to dominate play but Sunderland were looking the more confident, epitomised by a cheeky in-swinging Larsson corner that almost caught Artur Boruc off guard.

A Rodriguez snap shot deflected wide off Craig Gardner when play returned to the other end, with Jozy Altidore proving a handful for Southampton's defence.

Lambert powered a header over at the back post, while Altidore, Fonte and Adam Lallana all had penalty appeals waved away before half-time.

Nathaniel Clyne and record-signing Osvaldo were introduced for the second period, with the latter close to having an immediate impact.

The Italian's deft pass saw Lallana with a clear shot on goal, only for Modibo Diakite to swoop in with a fantastic, late tackle.

The Saints captain saw a right-footed half volley curl just wide shortly afterwards, before an Osvaldo cross found Rodriguez, only for the Saints attacker to head straight at Westwood from close range.

Westwood did well to tip a long-range Lambert strike around the post but Saints were still struggling at the back, with only the onrushing Boruc preventing Altidore doubling the Black Cats' advantage.

It was Southampton in the ascendancy, though, and they kept knocking on the visitors' door.

Lambert and Rodriguez were the next to threaten, although the intensity began to peter out with 15 minutes remaining.

Osvaldo headed into the ground under pressure from John O'Shea as the match entered the closing stages as tempers began to fray.

Ironic cheers met referee Lee Mason's award for a foul on the new boy late on - a decision that led to Saints equalising at the death.

Ward-Prowse floated in the free-kick and centre-back Fonte met the ball with a powerful header that at last beat Westwood.

Rodriguez saw a shot deflect wide as Saints pushed for another in stoppage time, but there was to be no further goals.

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