FOOTBALL / Samir Nasri scores on his Premier League debut

LONDON: Arsenal opened the English Premier League football season on Saturday with a 1-0 home win over newly promoted West Brom.

Samir Nasri scored on his Premier League debut in the fourth minute and, while Arsenal failed to add to its advantage, it never looked like surrendering it either.

Its best chances came early in the second half when Emmanuel Adebayor hit a low curling shot past the post and had a goal ruled out because of offside.

Arsenal’s slight lack of edge was maybe due to manager Arsene Wenger’s decision to rest Robin Van Persie even though he was without the injured Cesc Fabregas as well as long-term absentees Tomas Rosicky and Eduardo Da Silva.

“It was important to win the game,” Arsenal captain William Gallas said. “We were a bit nervous.” With Fabregas out and Mathieu Flamini having left for AC Milan, Wenger started Denilson and Emmanuel Eboue in central midfield, with Nasri and Theo Walcott providing width.

The decision paid off early as Denilson broke down the left and cut the ball back from the byline into the path of Nasri, who hit the ball first time to guide a shot low into the far corner.

Arsenal’s momentum stalled slightly and, although Adebayor went close seven minutes into the second half and had a goal ruled out in the 60th, Wenger opted to bring on Van Persie in place of Nicklas Bendtner in the 70th to provide an extra attacking threat.

Carson didn’t make a save in the second half until the 82nd and the home fans started to jeer Adebayor as he laboured up front and seemed to hog the ball to his team’s detriment.

Van Persie almost made it 2-0 in the 87th with a turn and shot inside the area but West Brom held on for a defeat that was narrower than it may have feared when the draw for the opening fixtures was made.

Torres strikes

Fernando Torres put a smile back on Rafa Benitez’s face as his late goal gave Liverpool a barely-deserved 1-0 win in its Premier League opener at Sunderland on Saturday.

Benitez saw his side outplayed by Standard Liege in the Champions League on Wednesday, then had to read reports that he was considering his future at the club.

Although Liverpool was poor for long spells at the Stadium of Light, Spanish Euro 2008 winner Torres showed his predatory instincts to end the week on a high note. The result:

Arsenal 1 (Samir Nasri 4) bt West Bromwich Albion 0; Bolton 3 (Steinsson 34, Davies 41, Elmander 45) bt Stoke 1 (Fuller 90); Everton 2 (Arteta 45, Yakubu 64) lost to Blackburn 3 (Dunn 22, Santa Cruz 66, Ooijer 90); Hull 2 (Geovanni 22, Folan 81) bt Fulham 1 (Ki-Hyeon 8); Middlesbrough 2 (Wheater 71, Mido 86) bt Tottenham 1 (Huth 90-og); West Ham 2 (Ashton 3, 10) bt Wigan 1 (Zaki 47).

Sunderland 0 lost to Liverpool 1 (Torres 83). — Agencies

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