ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE
Manchester United 1
The English Premier League kicked off in unique fashion yesterday as an own goal by Tottenham Hotspur's Kyle Walker gave Manchester United a 1-0 victory in the season opener at Old Trafford.
Never before had English football's top flight competition begun with a player putting past his own goalkeeper until full-back Walker inadvertently prodded the ball past Michel Vorm in the 22nd minute when desperately trying to dispossess Wayne Rooney.
"I tried to stick my foot in the way so that (Rooney would) kick my foot instead of the ball, so it's a bit unlucky really as I'd made up a lot of ground to get there," observed Walker.
Aston Villa 1
Crystal Palace 3
Late kick-off: Chelsea v Swansea
Tottenham had dominated until then but the goal helped United, with five expensive debutants in their ranks, relax as the London side's verve deserted them until a late attacking flurry was repelled by the hosts' new Argentinian goalkeeper Sergio Romero.
Even if the fare was mediocre, three points was the ideal start for manager Louis van Gaal after a huge close season investment took United's spending to about £230 million (S$493 million) in his 12 months at the helm.
"Our pressure was very good, and out of the pressure we scored the only goal," said van Gaal. "So I think it was a deserved win."
As opening days go, there have been times when United have zipped the ball around with much greater panache and know-how.
Not every side will be as meek as Tottenham but van Gaal should certainly be encouraged by the way his team endured some difficult moments early on to make it an afternoon, ultimately, when Romero, deputising for David de Gea, was only fleetingly troubled.
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS