Drogba double boosts Chelsea, Arsenal trounce Everton
Didier Drogba scored a last-minute winner as Chelsea marked Carlo Ancelotti’s first match in the Premier League with a 2-1 opening day victory over Hull on Saturday while fellow title hopefuls Arsenal trounced Everton 6-1.
Drogba sealed all three points for the English title contenders when, in the second minute of added-on time, his cross-shot floated over Hull goalkeeper Boaz Myhill at Stamford Bridge.
But it was Chelsea’s London rivals Arsenal, written off by many pundits as a top-four side this term, who ended the first day of the new season in pole position with a thumping win at Goodison Park against an Everton team who finished fifth last season.
Arsenal were 3-0 in front before half-time. Brazilian midfielder Denilson put the Gunners ahead with a 26th minute curling shot that gave Everton keeper Tim Howard no chance.
Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen marked his debut by heading in from a Robin van Persie free-kick and it was a similar story when the equally unattended William Gallas nodded in from a Cesc Fabregas set-piece four minutes before the break.
Fabregas made it 4-0 early in the second-half when he crowned a rapid, length of the field, counter-attack with a stylish finish before the Spaniard scored his second after being allowed to run free by the Everton defence.
Eduardo added a sixth two minutes from time after Andrei Arshavin’s shot came back off the post before Louis Saha pulled one back for Everton.
In the day’s other Premier League matches, cash-rich Manchester City beat Blackburn 2-0 while Stoke defeated new boys Burnley by the same scoreline.
Fulham added to Portsmouth’s problems with a 1-0 win, Sunderland also grabbed a 1-0 win at Bolton while West Ham beat last season’s Championship winners Wolves 2-0, the same scoreline that gave Wigan victory at Aston Villa.
At Stamford Bridge, Stephen Hunt marked his Hull debut by giving the Tigers a shock lead before Drogba equalised.
Chelsea should have gone ahead when Drogba shot wide from just six yards out and they were made to pay when Hunt gave Hull a 28th-minute lead after the ball broke in the box to the Republic of Ireland midfielder.
Less than 10 minutes later Drogba equalised with a curling free-kick from 28 yards after John-Obi Mikel had been fouled.
Manchester City who, thanks to their Abu-Dhabi based owners, spent nearly STG100 million ($A196.71 million) on players during the close season, saw one of their new signings give them the lead at Ewood Park when Emmanuel Adebayor, the former Arsenal striker, fired home from Shaun Wright Phillips’s third minute cross.
Stephen Ireland added the second goal in the last minute.
Portsmouth, beset by uncertainty surrounding the proposed takeover of the club by Arab businessman Sulaiman Al-Fahim, were undone at Fratton Park when Clint Dempsey’s 13th-minute shot deflected off Bobby Zamora and past goalkeeper David James.
Wigan, in Roberto Martinez’s first match as a Premier League manager, stunned Aston Villa when Hugo Rodallega let fly from long range with a dipping shot that beat Brad Friedel.
Jason Koumas made it 2-0 in the 56th minute.
Former Tottenham striker Darren Bent secured Sunderland’s victory against Bolton with a fifth-minute header.
Mark Noble put West Ham in front at Molineux with a curling first-half shot before Matthew Upson’s header from a corner doubled the Hammers’ lead in the 69th minute.
Stoke were 2-0 up inside 34 minutes against Burnley, playing their first top-flight match in 33 years.
Ryan Shawcross headed Stoke in front before Burnley’s Stephen Jordan put into his own net.
Champions Manchester United begin their quest for a record fourth successive English title at home to Birmingham on Sunday when arch-rivals Liverpool welcome Tottenham Hotspur to Anfield.© AAP 2013