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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Bruno Fernandes hits hat-trick for Manchester United; Chelsea, Liverpool begin season with wins

Bruno Fernandes' hat-trick and Paul Pogba's four assists helped Manchester United beat Leeds United 5-1 in their season opener. Chelsea began their campaign with a 3-0 win over Crystal Palace.

By: Reuters |
Updated: August 15, 2021 8:30:20 am
Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes celebrates scoring their first goal with Paul Pogba. (Reuters)

Bruno Fernandes fired in a hat-trick of goals in front of a raucous Old Trafford as Manchester United thrashed Leeds United 5-1 to get their Premier League season off to a flying start on Saturday.

Paul Pogba also starred with four assists — one more than he managed in the whole of last season in the league — to help United run riot in front of their first full crowd in 17 months.

Fernandes got the goalscoring underway on the half-hour mark, before a Luke Ayling thunderbolt out of nowhere levelled things up three minutes into the second half.

It was only a short reprieve for Leeds, however, as Man United livewire Mason Greenwood fired the hosts back in front before Fernandes added a quickfire third to put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side in command.

Fernandes completed his first United treble with another fine finish on the hour mark, before Brazilian midfielder Fred got in on the act to complete the rout and cap a memorable afternoon for the hosts, who laid down an early marker in the Premier League title race.

Debutant Chalobah scores as Chelsea coast past Palace

Chelsea eased to a 3-0 home win over a toothless Crystal Palace on Saturday as the European champions made a strong statement of intent in their opening game of the Premier League season.

Spanish left back Marcos Alonso fizzed a free kick into the top corner to put Chelsea in charge in the 27th minute while U.S. forward Christian Pulisic followed up on the rebound to double their lead five minutes before halftime.

Chelsea’s homegrown defender Trevoh Chalobah then completed a dream Premier League debut in the second half when he smashed a distance shot in off the post to score his first goal for the club he joined as an eight-year-old.

The defender, who has spent the last three seasons on loan in England and France, dropped to his knees after scoring to further delight the home fans in the biggest Stamford Bridge crowd since the coronavirus pandemic struck in March 2020, with more than 38,000 turning out.

“It is a dream for a boy like me being here and to play for my home club is unreal,” said Chalobah.

“As I was getting closer to the goal I thought I might as well shoot and just went for it. I didn’t know the ball went in, I did not know what to do. I was over the moon.”

Salah scores and sets up 2 in Liverpool’s 3-0 win at Norwich

Liverpool eased into the new Premier League season as goals by Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah earned them a 3-0 victory at promoted Norwich City on Saturday.

With defensive linchpin Virgil van Dijk back after nine months out with a serious knee injury, Liverpool enjoyed a relatively trouble-free evening at Carrow Road.Norwich had their chances but once Jota gave Liverpool the lead in the 26th minute the visitors were in command.

Salah set up Firmino to make it 2-0 in the 65th minute and then sealed the points nine minutes later with a neat finish.

The Egyptian striker has now scored on the opening weekend for the past five seasons — a Premier League record.But the focus was very much on Dutchman Van Dijk whose absence was a key factor in Liverpool’s disappointing defence of their Premier League title last season.

Liverpool were ahead as Trent Alexander-Arnold’s ball in from the right was mis-controlled by Salah and the ball ran to Jota who tucked a shot home.

There was an element of fortune about Liverpool’s second as a rebound off a Norwich defender fell to Salah whose instant cross was an open invitation for Firmino to score.

Norwich were deflated and they fell further behind when Salah curled in with his left foot after a corner fell to him on the edge of the area.

Vardy pounces to give Leicester 1-0 win over Wolves

Leicester City got its Premier League campaign underway with a 1-0 home win over Wolverhampton Wanderers thanks to a trademark Jamie Vardy goal in the 41st minute at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

Adama Traore spurned a gilt-edged chance for Wolves before the 34-year old Vardy popped up at the near post to delight the home fans, making up for an earlier strike that was disallowed for offside.

Ricardo Pereira weaved his way past two markers on the right flank and delivered a low cross to the edge of the six-yard box for Vardy to beat Conor Coady to the ball and turn it into the top corner with a deft touch.

Coady had the ball in the back of the net for the visitor in the 89th minute as it pressed hard for an equaliser, but the goal was scrapped for offside, handing new Wolves manager Bruno Lage a losing start in the Premier League.

Benitez begins Everton reign with victory

Everton rallied from a goal down to beat Southampton 3-1 in the Premier League as new manager Rafa Benitez enjoyed a winning start to his reign at Goodison Park on Saturday.

Benitez’s appointment was not a popular one on the blue half of Merseyside after his spell in charge of Liverpool and his side left the field to boos at halftime as they trailed to a goal by Adam Armstrong on his Southampton debut.

But whatever the Spaniard said at the break did the trick as Everton were a different proposition once Richarlison equalised from close range in the 47th minute.

Abdoulaye Doucoure’s sublime finish put them ahead in the 76th minute before Richarlison set up Dominic Calvert-Lewin to make the points safe late on.

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