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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug, 25, 2007

Premier League: Nani stunner gives United first win

Nani breathed fresh life into Manchester United's ailing Barclays Premier League title defence as he rasped home a blistering second-half winner to beat Tottenham. The Portugal star had been one of a number of inconsistent performers for the hosts against a Spurs outfit who hit the bar through Robbie Keane, saw one Dimitar Berbatov effort cleared off the line by Rio Ferdinand and a fierce penalty appeal for handball against Wes Brown turned down. But, just as it seemed United would lose more ground in their battle to keep pace with table-toppers Chelsea, Nani unleashed a brutal 30-yard effort which gave under-fire England keeper Paul Robinson no chance. Arsenal ended Manchester City's perfect start to the Barclays Premier League season with a 1-0 win at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners came into the game more after City had the best of the early chances but Manuel Almunia was forced to save well at Mpenza's feet just after the hour mark. Arsenal then missed a gilt-edged chance to take the lead when Kasper Schmeichel saved Robin van Persie's penalty following Micah Richard's foul on Aleksandr Hleb, but Cesc Fabregas (80) blasted home at the near post from Hleb's pass to spare the Dutchman's blushes. Chelsea were not at their best but still went top ahead of City thanks to a 1-0 win over Portsmouth at Stamford Bridge. Pompey's Matt Taylor came close before Frank Lampard's shot on the half-hour from 18 yards had too much power for David James, who could only deflect it weakly into the net. Gary O'Neil shot narrowly wide for the visitors early in the second period and Benjani also came close after bursting through on goal, while Ashley Cole headed off the line late on from Hermann Hreidarsson. In today's early kick-off, Liverpool maintained their good start to the season with a comfortable 2-0 win at Sunderland. Mohamed Sissoko handed the Reds a deserved half-time lead when he blasted home from Andriy Voronin's lay-off, and the Ukrainian, after wasting a good chance moments earlier, fired across Craig Gordon with four minutes left to seal the points. The pressure eased on Bolton boss Sammy Lee as his men claimed a 3-0 win over Reading at the Reebok Stadium. Gary Speed (32) headed them in front from El-Hadji Diouf's corner and Nicolas Anelka's tap-in (55) after more good work from the Senegalese made things comfortable for Wanderers. Daniel Braaten added a third in injury-time from Anelka's brilliant cross. Shaun Maloney scored in injury-time to hand Aston Villa a thrilling 2-1 win over Fulham at Villa Park. Fulham went ahead in the fifth minute when the ball ricocheted into the path of Clint Dempsey who clipped home clinically into the top corner, while John Carew and Diomansy Kamara both hit the woodwork. Villa claimed a merited leveller when Ashley Young's cross was deflected into his own goal by Zat Knight (50) and Chris Baird was then sent off for two bookings. Two late goals left honours even between West Ham and Wigan at Upton Park. The Hammers seized the initiative and had a good penalty appeal turned down for a foul on Mark Noble while Craig Bellamy's `goal' was ruled out for offside before half-time. But Wigan scored when Paul Scharner's well-placed overhead kick found the corner of the net in the 79th minute before Lee Bowyer finished from a tight angle two minutes later to leave it 1-1. Birmingham won the clash of the promoted sides at Pride Park with a 2-1 triumph over Derby. The visitors went ahead after 32 seconds when Jerome shot across Stephen Bywater from a tight angle and Rahdi Jaidi later hit the crossbar for Blues with a powerful header. Matt Oakley (51) buried Eddie Lewis' far-post cross to level but Jerome's fine half-volley (63) put Steve Bruce's men back in front.

In today's evening match, Everton came from behind to claim a 1-1 draw with Blackburn at Goodison Park. Roque Santa Cruz continued his fine early-season form with the opener in the 15th minute after Morten Gamst Pedersen's overhead kick hit the bar. But James McFadden swept home at the near post with 12 minutes left to level the match.

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