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Liverpool overcome Spurs in Balotelli debut

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By EMN Updated: Aug 31, 2014 9:48 pm
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Agencies
London, August 31

Raheem Sterling produced a man-of-the-match performance as Liverpool beat Tottenham 3-0 at White Hart Lane.
Luis Suarez tore through the Tottenham defence in the corresponding fixture last December, but Brendan Rodgers’ side showed that there is life after the Uruguayan with a convincing win over Mauricio Pochettino’s team. Tottenham came into the game with maximum points after wins over West Ham and QPR, and hopes of avenging last season’s 5-0 defeat, but were always second best against a Liverpool side with Sterling at the top of a fluid midfield diamond.
The opening goal came after eight minutes, and came with a ‘Made in England’ stamp that will have had national team manager Roy Hodgson purring.
Daniel Sturridge set up Jordan Henderson down the right channel, and the England midfielder crossed low for Sterling to tap home at the far post.
The hard-working debutant Mario Balotelli had a couple of good chances in the first half, heading wide at the far post, then shanking an effort wide from 35 yards after Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris had miskicked a clearance.
The finest penalty-taker in European football also got an early taste of his position in the Liverpool hierarchy, as Steven Gerrard took the spot-kick that made it 2-0 in the 49th minute.
The award of the penalty seemed soft, with referee Phil Dowd deciding that Eric Dier had pulled back Joe Allen in the box even though the Welsh international went down in instalments.
Gerrard’s low shot was his 43rd successful penalty for Liverpool, surpassing Jan Molby’s total and setting a new club record in the process.
Liverpool’s counter-attacking game plan on their travels is predicated on their speed on the break, and Alberto Moreno showed he is no slouch with the third goal on the hour mark.
The Spanish full-back, who had a poor game in Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat to Manchester City last Monday, more than made up for his lacklustre debut with his first goal for his new club.
£12m signing from Sevilla dispossessed Tottenham’s Andros Townsend on the halfway line before haring towards the penalty area, and shooting past Lloris via the far post.

Aston Villa edge Hull to continue strong start

AFP
BIRMINGHAM, August 31

Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann scored as Aston Villa extended their unbeaten start to the Premier League season with a 2-1 victory at home to Hull City on Sunday.
Villa had been dumped out of the League Cup by third-tier Leyton Orient in mid-week, but first-half efforts from Agbonlahor and Weimann got them back to winning ways and ended Hull’s own unbeaten record.
Nikica Jelavic replied for Hull with 16 minutes to play, but although it prevented Villa from opening the season with three clean sheets for the first time since 1900, Paul Lambert’s side held on for the three points.
It was a second successive setback for Steve Bruce’s Hull, who were knocked out of the Europa League by Belgian side Lokeren on Thursday, and a ninth win in 10 games for Villa against the East Yorkshire club.
Both sides made seven changes to their starting XIs, with captain Ron Vlaar and Fabian Delph among the players returning for Villa, and Michael Dawson making his Hull debut in place of the suspended James Chester.
Delph was awarded his first England call-up on Thursday and he almost marked the achievement with an early goal, sending a shot against the crossbar from the left in the second minute after being found by Weimann.
Twelve minutes later Villa made the breakthrough, with Agonlahor tucking away a low strike from Weimann’s lay-off to register his first goal at Villa Park in 2014.
Hull had a penalty appeal turned down when Andy Robertson’s cross struck Ashley Westwood on the arm, but Villa were bossing the game and in the 36th minute Kieran Richardson teed up Weimann to crash home the hosts’ second goal with his left foot.
Villa rattled the woodwork again shortly before half-time when a free-kick from Westwood hit the post after Curtis Davies had been booked for felling the lively Delph.
Jelavic hit back for Hull in the 74th minute with a header from a Robbie Brady free-kick that flicked into the net off Villa left-back Aly Cissokho.
Hull might have snatched a late equaliser, but Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan produced a finger-tip save to thwart Jake Livermore.

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By EMN Updated: Aug 31, 2014 9:48:28 pm