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Monday, Aug. 27, 2012

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New frontier: Shinji Kagawa controls the ball during Manchester United's match against Fulham on Saturday at Old Trafford. Kagawa scored his first league goal for United in a 3-2 win. AP

Kagawa scores first Premier League goal

Kyodo, AP

MANCHESTER, England — Japan midfielder Shinji Kagawa found the net for his first Premier League goal on Saturday as Manchester United defeated Fulham 3-2 in Kagawa's home debut.

The game was even at 1-1 after rapid-fire early goals by Fulham's Damien Duff in the third minute and Robin van Persie, who opened his Manchester United account to equalize with a stunning volley seven minutes later.

Kagawa, starting his second straight game for the Red Devils, made the most of a rebound that fell at his feet on 35 minutes. Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer denied a shot by Tom Cleverley, but the ball came to Kagawa, who neatly tucked it in to put United up 2-1.

The 23-year-old hit the post soon afterward and another United goal by Rafael was waved off for offside before the Brazilian fullback headed home the hosts' third goal on 41 minutes.

United icon Wayne Rooney, who started as the lone attacker in Monday's 1-0 season-opening defeat at Everton, started on the bench in favor of new-signing Van Persie, with Kagawa playing in his preferred position behind the striker.

"I thought I might have been offside," said Kagawa of his goal that saw Fulham defenders appeal in vain for an offside call.

"The timing was just right. No matter how it happened, I just wanted to score as soon as possible. I'm relieved I could do it at home."

Nemanja Vidic's own goal in the 64th minute started a spell of pressure by the visitors, but they were unable to find an equalizer.

"I think we saw the two sides of Manchester United," Ferguson said. "After cruise control, we made a terrible mistake for the second goal and it became a match."

Rooney went off on a stretcher in injury time with a deep gash after getting caught on the right leg by Hugo Rodallega, something that will sour the victory for Ferguson.

"It looks as he'll be out for maybe four weeks," Ferguson said.

In Saturday's late kick off, Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres combined to devastating effect as Chelsea beat Newcastle 2-0 at Stamford Bridge.

Hazard converted a penalty for his first Chelsea goal after Torres was fouled before assisting on the second with a back heel for Torres to score from 18 meters just before half time.

Chelsea now has three wins from three games prompting manager Roberto Di Matteo to praise the start his team has made.

"We controlled Newcastle's threat well," Di Matteo said. "With two clean sheets in three games, I am very pleased."

The same could not be said of Di Matteo's predecessor at Chelsea, Andre Villas-Boas, who came close to his first win as Tottenham manager but settled for a 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto gave Tottenham the lead at White Hart Lane in the 74th minute before James Morrison saved a point for West Brom with a 90th-minute goal.

Everton beat Aston Villa 3-1 at Villa Park, with Steven Pienaar, Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic all scoring before half time.

Norwich and Queens Park Rangers drew 1-1 in a fixture featuring two teams that were beaten 5-0 last weekend.



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