This weekend saw the English Premier League, Dutch Eredivisie, and French Ligue 1 kick off. Last Word on Football rounds up the action from gameweek one.
The Premier League started on Friday night, as Paul Pogba inspired Manchester United to a 2-1 victory over Leicester City. The Frenchman opened the scoring after three minutes and was commanding throughout. Luke Shaw, much criticised by Jose Mourinho last season, scored the winner with his first United goal.
On Saturday, new Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri got off to a winning start. Chelsea looked comfortable throughout, dispatching Huddersfield 3-0. New signing Jorginho impressed, scoring his first Chelsea goal from the spot.
Wolves enjoyed the best start to Premier League life, of the promoted teams. Reuben Neves scored the pick of the goals as Wolves twice came from behind to take a point from Everton. £50 million signing Richarlison scored twice on his debut, helping Everton to a point after they had defender Phil Jagielka sent off in the first half. Meanwhile, Fulham and Cardiff, both also promoted last season, got off to losing starts courtesy of Crystal Palace and Bournemouth.
Arguably the most impressive performance of the weekend was by Liverpool, who dispatched West Ham 4-0. Sadio Mane scored twice in a game which Liverpool controlled throughout. Reigning champions Manchester City got their title defence off to the perfect start, beating Arsenal 2-0. New Arsenal manager Unai Emery’s side were poor and were lucky to not be beaten by more. Experienced goalkeeper Petr Cech looked uncomfortable throughout, consistently making mistakes on the ball.
Elsewhere, there were wins for Tottenham and Watford, while Southampton and Burnley played out a 0-0 draw.
Ligue 1 began on Friday night as Marseille thrashed Toulouse 4-0. Dimitri Payet starred, scoring twice in a game which saw Marseille take 23 shots. Newly promoted Nimes came from behind with two late goals to beat Angers 4-3, despite the sending off of defender Florian Miguel. Substitute Clement Depres matched his entire goal tally from last season with two goals. Stade Reims, last season’s Ligue 2 Champions, also won, beating Nice 1-0 despite having only 29% of the possession.
PSG started their season with a 3-0 win against Caen. The opening goals, scored by Neymar and Adrien Rabiot, were courtesy of Caen errors forced by PSG’s high press. The late, third goal was scored by highly rated youngster Timothy Weah, his first Ligue 1 goal.
PSG’s main title rivals, Monaco and Lyon, both got off to good starts. Monaco won 3-1 at Nantes, with forwards Rony Lopes, Stevan Jovetic and Falcao all on the score sheet. Lyon beat Amiens 2-0 thanks to a strong run and finish by Bertrand Traore and a free kick from Memphis Depay. Lyon’s Nabil Fekir, targeted by Liverpool and Chelsea in the transfer window, did not feature due to his role in France’s World Cup win but was present. Elsewhere, there were wins for Strasbourg, Lille, Dijon, and St-Etinne.
Defending champions PSV got their season off to the perfect start, romping past Utrecht 4-0. Hirving Lozano was a wanted man after the World Cup and showed his value to PSV with a goal from distance. Meanwhile, Feyenoord were surprisingly beaten 2-0 by newly promoted De Graafschap, seeing two players sent off in the process. Ajax’s blushes were spared by a late Matthijs de Lijt goal to rescue a point at home against Heracles.
There were convincing wins for two sides hoping to compete for European football this season. AZ Alkmaar beat NAC 5-1, including a debut goal for striker Bjorn Johnsen. Vitesse were also 5-1 winners, at home against Groningen. Vitesse dominated throughout and could have won by more, striker Tim Matavz guilty of missing several good chances.
Heerenveen also opened with a win, three first-half goals enough to beat Zwolle 3-2. Heerenveen played the majority of the second half with ten men after Morten Thorsby’s sending off held on despite a second-half Zwolle onslaught. There were also wins for VVV and FC Emmen, while Excelsior and Fortuna played out a 1-1 draw.
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