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EPL: Manchester City, Liverpool struggle to win in opening games

Last season's top two sides sweat to beat Newcastle and Southampton in EPL openers

London: Manchester City and Liverpool, last season's top two in the Premier League, were both made to sweat by determined opposition before opening their campaigns with hard-fought victories on Sunday.

Manchester City players celebrate their opening goal against Newcastle United at St James' Park yesterday. Pics/Getty Images
Manchester City players celebrate their opening goal against Newcastle United at St James' Park yesterday. Pics/Getty Images 

David Silva and Sergio Aguero scored as City began their title defence with a 2-0 success at Newcastle United, after Daniel Sturridge had struck late in the game to earn Liverpool a 2-1 win at home to Southampton.

The two rivals joined five other teams, including Arsenal, on maximum points, ahead of their showdown at the Etihad Stadium a week later on Monday in the first major head-to-head of the season.

City manager Manuel Pellegrini gave a debut to new Brazilian midfielder Fernando and saw his side take the lead in the 38th minute at St James' Park.

Yaya Toure found Edin Dzeko with a lofted pass over the top and as Newcastle's centre-backs rushed across, the Bosnian teed up Silva with a clever back-heel and the Spain midfielder coolly beat Tim Krul.

Newcastle improved after the interval before Aguero ran through and beat Krul at the second attempt in stoppage time to finally put the game to bed.

Sturridge shines
Earlier, Sturridge snaffled a 79th-minute winner as Liverpool edged Southampton at a sun-soaked Anfield. Raheem Sterling put Liverpool ahead midway through the first half, but Nathaniel Clyne lashed home an equaliser shortly before the hour following a neat exchange with debutant Dusan Tadic.

Daniel Sturridge (centre) scores Liverpool's second goal against Southampton at Anfield
Daniel Sturridge (centre) scores Liverpool's second goal against Southampton at Anfield  

Brendan Rodgers's Liverpool looked destined to drop points in their first competitive game since the sale of Luis Suarez to Barcelona, but with 11 minutes to play, Sterling teed up Sturridge to flick home the winning goal.

Liverpool 'exceptional'
"We scored two very good goals and we're delighted about the win," Liverpool manager Rodgers told Sky Sports. "In terms of the character and desire and the will to win, we were exceptional."

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