Sturridge rescues Rams

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The Independent Online
The fans of Derby County have been anticipating the club's return to the Premiership all summer but they can scarcely have anticipated the dramatic events of the campaign's opening game against Leeds United, a pulsating 3-3 draw.

All seemed lost for the Rams after 72 minutes when Ian Harte put Howard Wilkinson's side 2-0 up, the hapless Jacob Laursen having previously put through his own goal. But two goals in as many minutes by Dean Sturridge and Paul Simpson had Derby level with 12 minutes to go.

But when the prized midfielder Lee Bowyer, Leeds' summer signing from Charlton, put the Yorkshire club back in front with only five minutes left it seemed that the Derby comeback had run out of steam. With two minutes remaining, Sturridge scored his second of the game and County had made their point.

The score from Goodison Park may have amused Blackburn Rovers' fans in their post-Shearer gloom but the spectacle which confronted them at Ewood Park will have given them little pleasure as Tottenham Hotspur ran out comfortable 2-0 winners despite losing two defenders to injury.

First, a Graham Fenton challenge on Gary Mabbutt saw the Spurs captain stretchered off after 15 minutes with a suspected fractured leg. His replacement, Stuart Nethercott, lasted another 15 minutes before a back injury forced him to give way to Clive Wilson.

Nothing daunted, Spurs took the lead when Chris Armstrong finished off a quick break which found David Howells in space on the left. His centre was met by Armstrong's powerful header through Tim Flowers' legs. Armstrong added the second after 67 minutes.

Newly promoted Sunderland and Leicester City got their first Premiership points in a 0-0 draw at Roker Park. Sunderland brought on their recent signing Niall Quinn after 55 minutes in an effort to break the deadlock and he immediately bundled the ball into the net after a free kick but the referee had spotted a infringement. Leicester looked dangerous on the break but a point each was a fair reflection of the game.

Aston Villa, fancied by some to win a trophy this season, lost 2-1 at Sheffield Wednesday.

Richie Humphreys, an Owls apprentice with only one appearance and making his Hillsborough debut, put Wednesday ahead and Guy Whittingham, a striker who has struggled to find his feet in the Premiership, made it 2-0 with six minutes remaining. For Villa, Tommy Johnson's late reply was scant consolation.

In Scotland, Rangers continued their 100 per cent start with a 5-2 win at East End Park where Dunfermline Athletic, last season's First Division champions, were hit by an Ally McCoist hat-trick.

Ruud Gullit's much-anticiapted competitive debut as Chelsea's manager - his knee injury prevents him from playing - gets underway this afternoon at The Dell where a Southampton side prepared by Graeme Souness awaits. The Blues must also do without Terry Phelan, Eddie Newton, David Rocastle and Frank Sinclair. The Saints lack former Chelsea defender Ken Monkou but captain Barry Venison should have recovered from a back injury.

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