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Decisive Aubameyang clinches win

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Liverpool fans watched their team thrash Norwich in the Premier League opener. Xinhua

LONDON (Reuters) – Steve Bruce’s reign as Newcastle United manager began in disappointing fashion as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s second-half goal sealed a 1-0 victory for Arsenal at a subdued St James’ Park in yesterday evening’s matchup.

After a largely forgettable first half in which Newcastle were slightly the better side, Arsenal eased to a comfortable three points thanks to Aubameyang’s 58th minute strike.

The Gunners had to wait until April to keep their first away clean sheet in the Premier League last season, but looked solid as they opened their campaign in encouraging fashion.

Also in action yesterday, Wolverhampton Wanderers had a goal by Leander Dendoncker ruled out by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in an entertaining 0-0 draw against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium.

Wolves thought they had scored six minutes into the second half when Dendoncker blasted in from close range but VAR deemed that the midfielder had headed the ball onto team mate Willy Boly’s arm off a corner before taking the shot.

On Saturday, champions Manchester City delivered an emphatic statement of intent with a 5-0 thrashing of West Ham United as they began their bid for a hat-trick of Premier League title.

Raheem Sterling’s hat-trick fired City to a crushing victory as they more than matched title rivals Liverpool’s 4-1 hammering of Norwich City on Friday.

Tottenham Hotspur, the only side to keep pace with City and Liverpool last season before falling away and finishing a distant fourth, began their campaign with a 3-1 home victory over Aston Villa – Harry Kane scoring two late goals.

There were also impressive wins for Burnley and Brighton & Hove Albion on the opening Saturday of the season while Sheffield United marked their return to the Premier League by picking up a point at Bournemouth.

Champions League winners Liverpool, who finished one point behind City in an epic title race last season, lit the touchpaper at Anfield but Pep Guardiola’s City, as they seemingly always manage to do, stole the limelight.

Brazilian Gabriel Jesus, preferred to Sergio Aguero in attack, opened the scoring in the 25th minute and Sterling made it 2-0 six minutes after the interval with a cool finish after being put through by Kevin De Bruyne.

Jesus became the first player to have a goal disallowed by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in the Premier League when, in the 53rd minute, he finished off Sterling’s pass following a fine move. However, the VAR adjudged Sterling had been offside.

VAR, making its Premier League debut this season, was used again to review and validate Sterling’s second and the video staff were busy again in the 84th minute when Aguero’s soft penalty was saved but VAR ruled that Declan Rice was encroaching into the box and referee Mike Dean ordered a re-take.

The Argentine scored before Sterling completed his hat-trick in stoppage time — the first player to do so on the opening weekend of the Premier League since Didier Drogba in 2010.

City have now won 15 Premier League games in a row.

“I cannot deny it, I’m delighted to win 5-0 away from home in the first game,” said Guardiola, who felt his side had been sloppy in the first half at the London Stadium.

“The rhythm was not there but that’s normal for the first game. In the second half we were better, we were more calm, we played extra passes. After we went 3-0 up the game was over.”

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