Raheem Sterling scored a hat-trick as Manchester City began their Premier League title defence with an emphatic 5-0 win in a VAR-dominated game at West Ham.
Gabriel Jesus put City ahead in Saturday’s early game at the London Stadium but was later denied a second goal by VAR after Sterling was ruled fractionally offside in the build-up.
Sterling scored City’s second and was on the right end of a VAR offside decision in the netting the third.
Sergio Aguero had a penalty saved by Lukas Fabianski but was allowed a retake after the video official spotted that Declan Rice had encroached into the area. Aguero made no mistake to make it 4-0 at the second attempt and Sterling wrapped up his treble in injury time.
City’s victory was a strong response after last season’s runners-up Liverpool opened their campaign with a 4-1 win over Norwich on Friday.
Harry Kane struck twice as Champions League finalists Tottenham also opened with a win by coming from behind to beat promoted Aston Villa 3-1 at home.
John McGinn showed great composure in front of goal to give Villa a shock lead after nine minutes but the visitors buckled under a Spurs onslaught late in the second half.
Record signing Tanguy Ndombele clipped in a superb equaliser after 73 minutes and two quickfire Kane efforts in the closing minutes secured the points for Spurs.
Elsewhere, Graham Potter made a winning start as Brighton manager as the Seagulls triumphed 3-0 at Watford.
The visitors went ahead after 28 minutes when Watford’s Abdoulaye Doucoure diverted a Pascal Gross cross into his own net and Florin Andone doubled the lead from close range after the hour.
Brighton summer signing Neal Maupay raced through to complete the scoring 13 minutes from time.
Sheffield United veteran Billy Sharp struck a late equaliser as the promoted Blades snatched a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth on their top-flight return.
Chris Mepham bundled in the opener for the Cherries on 62 minutes after a Callum Wilson effort had been blocked.
United battled on and were rewarded when substitute Sharp poked home amid a goalmouth scramble late on, the goal being confirmed after a VAR check.
Burnley made a strong start as they overpowered Southampton 3-0 at Turf Moor thanks to a second-half Ashley Barnes double and a further effort from Johann Berg Gudmundsson.
Barnes rifled in the opener after 63 minutes and then volleyed in a second from an Erik Pieters cross seven minutes later.
Gudmundsson curled in a fine third 15 minutes from the end.
Wilfried Zaha appeared as a second-half substitute as Crystal Palace were held to a goalless draw by 10-man Everton at Selhurst Park.
Palace star man Zaha was linked with the Toffees after handing in a transfer request earlier this week and he had to make do with a limited role after staying at the London club.
Glyfi Sigurdsson thought he had put Everton ahead early in the second half but Patrick Van Aanholt made a fine goalline clearance.
The Merseysiders had to hold on for the final 14 minutes after Morgan Schneiderlin was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Provided by Press Association Sports
Manchester City kicked off their 2019/20 campaign in familiar fashion with a 5-0 rout of West Ham at the London Stadium.
Pep Guardiola decided to go with David Silva ahead of birthday boy Bernardo Silva in midfield and opted against starting Sergio Aguero, who has just returned from injury.
The nuances in the line-up were inconsequential as the defending champions made light work of the Hammers and cruised to a 5-0 win.
Raheem Sterling walked away with the match-ball thanks to a second-half hat-trick, while Gabriel Jesus and substitute Aguero also netted.
We take a look at some of the talking points from what was an extraordinary display.
GUARDIOLA SPOILED FOR CHOICE
Guardiola enjoyed the liberty of leaving one of Europe’s best players from last season on the bench as his side crushed West Ham by five goals, away from home. City legend and star striker Aguero was also missing from the starting line-up but Gabriel Jesus ensured the Argentine was not missed.
Joao Cancelo was bound to be a straightforward choice at the right-back position, given Kyle Walker experienced a noticeable dip in form towards the end of last season. But the Englishman produced a splendid display in attack to send a message that the new-signing will have to work for his spot. This healthy competition will drive both the players to strive for new heights this season.
Riyad Mahrez’s sensational performance assured City that Leroy Sane’s injury is unlikely to cause too much harm to their chances in the league. Guardiola is spoiled for choices and it will take something monumental to dethrone this side.
PROMISE FOR THE HAMMERS
New-signing Sebastein Haller proved to be a menace by keeping John Stones on his toes at all times. The former Eintracht Frankfurt forward took very little time to gel into his new side and showed promise in constructing the play. His sturdy physique provided him a huge advantage in a physical duel and this can come handy in the Premier League.
Felipe Anderson and Michail Antonio were dangerous on the counter and made City’s defence work hard to keep the clean-sheet.
The 5-0 score-line is a fair reflection of their defensive performance but it veils the tremendous effort up front.
Boss Manuel Pellegrini will be confident of better showings in the future once he sits back and looks at the game beyond the score-line.
VAR DEBATE IS UNDER WAY
VAR is making its Premier League debut this season and debates on whether it would kill the flow of the game were bound to pop up at some time over the course of the season. The heavy involvement of the technology in this game already had fans conflicted over their opinions of the same.
The first major involvement arrived when Sterling appeared marginally offside during a move which saw Jesus tap the ball into the goal. A very well-orchestrated move amounted to nothing as the Englishman was found to be offside by the smallest of margins.
Moments later, Sterling was yet again involved in a move which called VAR into action. Only this time the technology was on his side and he got his goal. However, it was still a case of tiny margins.
Then VAR ruled Aguero’s spot-kick, initially saved by Lukasz Fabianski, should be retaken as Declan Rice had encroached into the penalty area. The Argentinian did not make the same mistake twice.
This begged for debate whether VAR must be used only in case of obvious mistakes or whether the calls must be binary based on where the line is drawn.
Defending Champions Manchester City overcame West Ham’s first-half resistance to register a comfortable 5-0 win in their opening game of the 2019/20 Premier League season.
Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling made the score-sheet, with the latter impressing with a well-deserved second-half hat-trick.
How did the players perform in City’s opener? We take a look.
Manchester City (4-3-3)
Ederson – Hardly tested by the West Ham attack in the first half, produced a spectacular double-save in the second to keep the clean-sheet. 7
Oleksandr Zinchenko – Confident show by the youngster with some key moments in attack and in defence, linked well with the forwards. 7
John Stones – Dealt well with the threat produced by Sebastien Haller, simple game with no major errors. 6
Aymeric Laporte – Assumed the position of the last man whenever City pushed forward, dealt extremely well with all the aerial threat. 7
Kyle Walker – Could have done better in defence, but was a beast in attack. Assisted Jesus’ opener following a great overlapping run. 7
Rodrigo – Soaked the pressure incredibly well, won some crucial aerials and maintained the tempo of the game. 7
Kevin De Bruyne – Vintage display from the Beligan, produced three key-passes including the assist to Sterling that followed a brilliant run. 8
David Silva – The weakest link in the team, got caught in possession several times and was rarely on the same wavelength as his team-mates. 5
Riyad Mahrez – Looked threatening on the right and was involved in several crucial build-ups, assisted two of Sterling’s goal, won the penalty ahead of City’s fourth. 9
Gabriel Jesus – Netted the ball twice but only one counted. Produced an exquisite finish to slot it home amid a crowded area. 8
Raheem Sterling – City’s best player of the game despite staying anonymous for most parts of the first half, walked away with a hat-trick thanks to three well-taken finishes. 10
Sergio Aguero – Came on in the 69th minute to replace Jesus, scored a penalty after he was made to re-take his saved penalty. 7
Phil Foden – Came on for Silva to see the game off in the last 10 minutes. N/A
Ilkay Gundogan – Replaced De Bruyne for the last 10 minutes, nothing spectacular. N/A