LONDON -- Liverpool needed a late penalty kick to escape
with a 1-1 tie at Sheffield United on Saturday in the opening game
of the English Premier League season.
Robbie Fowler scored the tying goal from the penalty spot in the
70th minute after a foul on Steven Gerrard. Rob Hulse had given the
hosts the lead in the 46th.
Liverpool, which has a Champions League game against Israeli
champion Maccabi Haifa on Wednesday, lost two key players to ankle
injuries in the opening 34 minutes. Defenders Jamie Carragher and
Jon Arne Riise had to be replaced.
Liverpool fell behind in the opening minute of the second half
when Hulse headed in a free kick from David Unsworth.
Sheffield United goalkeeper Paddy Kenny then saved a header from
Craig Bellamy midway through the second half, but he was beaten
three minutes later. Gerrard got into the area and Kenny saved his
weak shot. However, the Liverpool captain's leg had been caught by
Phil Jagielka, and Fowler made the penalty kick.
The game at Bramall Lane was the first in the top flight of
English soccer in 12 years.
Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock watched from the stands.
He was banned from the bench for the opening two games for arguing
with the referee and Leeds United manager Kevin Blackwell during a
League Championship game near the end of last season.
U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard, on loan from Manchester United, made
his league debut with Everton in a 2-1 win over Watford. Andy
Johnson and Mikel Arteta scored for Everton.
Reading, starting started with U.S. players Marcus Hahnemann and
Bobby Convey, overturned a two-goal deficit and beat Middlesbrough
3-2 in its first game ever in the Premier League.
Arsenal got a tying goal from Gilberto Silva in the 84th to hold
Aston Villa to a 1-1 tie in the first league game at Emirates
Stadium. Olof Mellberg put Villa in the lead with a header in the
Portsmouth beat Blackburn 3-0, despite U.S. goalkeeper Brad
Friedel saving a penalty kick during injury time.
BERLIN -- Werder Bremen beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 in the Bundesliga, with Brazilian Diego setting up both goals. Diego first sent a free kick to Miroslav Klose for the tying goal in the 26th minute, and then assisted on Hugo Almeida's winner in the 77th. Leverkusen had taken the lead in the 15th on Paul Freier's penalty kick, and went close several times soon after. Hamburger SV needed a late goalkeeper blunder to salvage a 2-2 tie against promoted Energie Cottbus. Hamburg got its tying goal in the 71st when Cottbus goalkeeper Tomislav Piplica ran out and missed Rafael van der Vaart's corner, leaving Nigel de Jong to head into an empty net. Boubacar Sanogo put Hamburg ahead in the 38th minute, with Cottbus' goals coming from Vlad Munteanu in the 56th and Sergiu Radu in the 69th. French league
PARIS -- Franck Ribery scored his first goal since the World Cup, helping Marseille beat host Auxerre 3-0 in the French league. Toifilou Maoulida and Mickael Pagis also scored for Marseille, which has seven points from three games and had yet to concede a goal. Ribery, who had wanted to leave the club before the season started, gave Marseille the lead in the 45th minute for his first goal since he tied the score against Spain in the second round of the World Cup.
GLASGOW -- Chris Boyd scored two goals in three minutes to lead Rangers over Hearts 2-0 and into first place in the Scottish Premier League. Boyd gave Rangers the lead two minutes after halftime when Robbie Neilson tripped Dado Prso inside the penalty area. Boyd beat goalkeeper Craig Gordon from the penalty spot. Three minutes later, he headed in a free kick from Lee Martin. Rangers leads the league with eight points, one more than St. Mirren, Falkirk, Hearts and Kilmarnock.
ATHENS -- Brazilian star Rivaldo scored twice to help Olympiakos Piraeus come from behind and beat Xanthi 2-1 Saturday in the opening round of the Greek Super League. Giorgos Barkoglou gave Xanthi the lead in the 5th minute. In the day's other match, AEK Athens played to a scoreless draw against PAOK Thessaloniki. The Athens club plays Scotland's Hearts in a Champions League qualifier at home Wednesday after winning the first leg 2-1.