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Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010

Torres kick-starts Liverpool's season

LONDON (AP) Fernando Torres opened his account for the season as Liverpool beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0 on Sunday to claim its first win in the Premier League, while Darren Bent scored Sunderland's injury-time winner against Manchester City.

News photo
Getting a leg up: Liverpool's Fernando Torres, left, vies for the ball with West Bromwich Albion's Youssouf Mulumbu during their match on Sunday at Anfield in Liverpool, England. AP PHOTO

Liverpool started the match in the league's bottom three on just one point but Torres' 65th-minute volley allowed his team to climb into 13th place on four points. West Brom had James Morrison sent off with five minutes left.

Bent converted a penalty in the fourth minute of stoppage time as Sunderland won 1-0 against big-spending City, which was looking to join Arsenal and Manchester United on seven points.

Elsewhere, Aston Villa beat Everton 1-0 thanks to Luke Young's ninth-minute strike to go fourth, and Robbie Blake scored with a late free kick as 10-man Bolton recovered from going two goals down to draw 2-2 with Birmingham.

Chelsea leads the table with nine points after winning its first three games, the latest coming against Stoke on Saturday.

Torres started on his own up front after being rested for Liverpool's win in Trabzonspor on Thursday, which qualified the five-time European champions for the group stage of the Europa League, and played an integral part of most of his side's attacking moves at Anfield.

The Spain striker squandered a number of half-chances in the first half but found the target in the 65th minute when he met a cross by Dirk Kuyt with a right-foot volley into the bottom corner.

"He is trying very hard at the moment and he is playing catchup — we've said it many times before — but I think that goal will be great for his confidence," Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson said of Torres.

Center back Martin Skrtel also went close for Liverpool, which bounced back from a 3-0 defeat at City last Monday.

Morrison was sent off by referee Lee Probert after being penalized for a lunge at Torres as West Brom slipped to its second defeat in three matches.

A glaring miss by Carlos Tevez proved costly as City lost for the first time this season, dropping to ninth spot as a result.

Tevez missed an open goal in the 16th minute after being played in by Yaya Toure, and Bent made City pay by shooting his penalty low past Joe Hart deep into injury time after the England striker was fouled by Micah Richards.

"We had the chance with Carlos, but we had another three or four situations where we could have scored a goal in the first half," City manager Roberto Mancini said. "But that's football. You must play until the last second."

City dominated the first half but failed to take advantage of its grip on the game, while Sunderland made the most of its opportunity despite losing striker Fraizer Campbell with what looked a serious injury.

At Villa Park, right back Young ran onto a through-ball by namesake Ashley Young and placed his left-foot strike past the despairing dive of Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard for the winner.

Villa required some desperate defending to maintain its lead and climb to six points, with Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar seeing a shot strike the bar in the first half and Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel producing two great saves to deny substitute Louis Saha in the closing minutes.

"I can't believe we lost it," said Everton manager David Moyes, whose side has just one point from three matches. "I thought from first minute to last we were in control of the game. We have to give Aston Villa a lot of credit for how they defended."

Central defender Roger Johnson put Birmingham in front after four minutes against Bolton and was then involved in the incident that led to the sending-off of Bolton goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen in the 37th.

Barca cruises to win

MADRID (AP) Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and David Villa scored as Barcelona opened its Spanish League campaign with a comfortable 3-0 win at Racing Santander on Sunday, while Real Madrid was held to a 0-0 draw by Mallorca in Jose Mourinho's first game as a Liga coach.

After just four minutes at Santander's Sardinero Stadium, Messi gathered Iniesta's through pass and raced into the area before chipping goalkeeper Antonio Rodriguez.

Iniesta also lobbed Rodriguez with a perfectly placed first-time shot in the 33rd, before Villa scored his first league goal for Barcelona, heading in unmarked from Daniel Alves's cross in the 63rd.

"This team was already great and it has won everything, so what I wanted to do was settle in as soon as possible at the beginning," said Villa.

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