/ 25 September 2011

Crouch strikes to frustrate United

Manchester United dropped their first Premier League points of the season on Saturday after Peter Crouch’s first goal for Stoke secured a 1-1 draw at the Britannia Stadium.

United had looked on course to maintain their 100% start to the season — and a two-point lead at the top of the table — after Portuguese winger Nani fired them ahead on 27 minutes.

But former Tottenham striker Crouch soared high to head home a corner on 52 minutes as battling City deservedly secured their first Premier League point against Manchester United.

The result left United top of the table on goal difference from arch-rivals Manchester City, with both clubs on 16 points after six games.

“I was pleased with the performance from the lads — they battled really hard and played like real champions,” United manager Sir Alex Fergsuon told MUTV.

“A draw is probably a fair result. It’s a difficult place to come to.”

Ferguson had to leave out England striker Wayne Rooney who was suffering from a hamstring injury which will also sideline him from Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Basel at Old Trafford.

Manchester City had earlier maintained the pressure at the top of the table after second half goals from substitutes Mario Balotelli and James Milner gave them a 2-0 win over Everton at Eastlands.

In other results on Saturday, Fernando Torres was sent off for the first time in his Premier League career as Chelsea bounced back from defeat at Manchester United with a 4-1 win over Swansea.

Torres, who was widely ridiculed after his open goal miss at Old Trafford, looked to have banished the blues after rifling home a superb opener to put Andre Villas-Boas’s side ahead at Stamford Bridge.

The £50-million striker had a hand in Chelsea’s second goal scored by Ramires on 36 minutes but then saw a promising display take a disastrous turn when he was given a straight red for a two-footed lunge on Swans midfielder Mark Gower.

The dismissal did not prevent Chelsea clinching the win however, Ramires adding his second before Ashley Williams grabbed a late consolation for the promoted Welsh side. Didier Drogba added a fourth in the dying moments.

The win leaves Chelsea three points behind leaders Manchester United and second-placed City.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Arsenal captain Robin van Persie brought up a century of goals for the London club after scoring twice in the Gunners 3-0 win over Bolton at the Emirates.

Dutch striker van Persie scored in the 46th and 71st minutes before Alex Song added a third late on.

The win relieved the pressure on Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger but left Bolton rooted to the bottom of the table with only three points.

Liverpool bounced back from their 4-0 thrashing at Spurs last week with a 2-1 win over Wolves at Anfield.

Liverpool took the lead courtesy of a Roger Johnson own goal on 11 minutes and added a second through Luis Suarez shortly before half-time.

Wolves came back strongly in the second half however, Scottish substitute Steven Fletcher pulling a goal back in the 49th minute to ensure Kenny Dalglish’s side could never relax.

Newcastle maintained their fine start to the season with a 3-1 win over Blackburn at St James Park with Senegalese striker Demba Ba scoring a hat-trick.

Ba put Newcastle 1-0 up in the 27th minute after collecting a Leon Best cross and drilling his shot beyond former England goalkeeper Paul Robinson.

Ba added his second only three minutes later, heading home to leave Blackburn reeling. Rovers fought back with a David Hoilett goal on 37 minutes but Ba sealed his hat-trick early in the second half to make sure of the points.

Tottenham followed up their win over Liverpool with a 2-1 win over Wigan at the DW Stadium courtesy of first half goals from Rafael van der Vaart and Welsh winger Gareth Bale.

Wigan clawed their way back with a Mohamed Diame goal on 50 minutes but a red card for Steve Gohouri for a second bookable offence left the Latics on the back foot for the remainder of the game.

In the day’s other game, Fulham and West Bromwich Albion played out a 0-0 stalemate at the Hawthorns. – AFP