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The Malaysian Insider :: Sports

Bent debut goal helps Villa sink Man City

Posted: 22 Jan 2011 03:58 PM PST

Bent (left) celebrates his goal against Manchester City at Villa Park in Birmingham January 22, 2011. — Reuters pic

LONDON, Jan 23 — Darren Bent scored on his debut four days after becoming Aston Villa's most expensive player to give his new side a 1-0 win over Manchester City in the Premier League at Villa Park yesterday.

The England striker, who joined for a club record fee of £18 million (RM90 million) from Sunderland on Tuesday, swept the ball home from six metres in the 18th minute after goalkeeper Joe Hart could only push Ashley Young's shot into his path.

"They always say the first goal is important and we got it early, then defended really well and played really well," the 26-year-old Bent told ESPN.

"It's been a hard week but these are the occasions you enjoy because we have beaten one of the best teams in the country."

Villa manager Gerard Houllier said: "I am pleased for Darren because it's his first goal for us and his first game but I thought the whole team were fantastic and they worked very hard for each other and their spirit of sacrifice was outstanding.

"I must congratulate them for that because we have beaten a very good side."

It was the second time this season Bent has scored the winner in a 1-0 victory over City, having converted a last-minute penalty for Sunderland in August.

The defeat completed a bad day for City whose title hopes took a knock as Manchester United and Arsenal won earlier.

City slipped from second to third, three points behind leaders United having played two more matches than their arch-rivals.

Roberto Mancini's City, who beat Villa 4-0 at Eastlands three weeks ago, hit the post late in the second half when a fierce drive by Nigel de Jong took a deflection off Ciaran Clark and smacked the woodwork.

Apart from his goal Bent did not have any other clearcut chances in front of watching England manager Fabio Capello but his debut will long be remembered by Villa fans who have not had too much to cheer about this season.

The victory moved them up from 17th to 16th, three points clear of the relegation zone.

It was the third time Bent has scored on his debut for a new club following first-game goals for Charlton Athletic and Sunderland. — Reuters

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United, Arsenal inspired by hat-trick pair

Posted: 22 Jan 2011 03:54 PM PST

The hat-trick was Berbatov's third of the season. — Reuters pic

LONDON, Jan 23 — Stunning hat-tricks from Dimitar Berbatov and Robin van Persie moved Manchester United and Arsenal ahead in the Premier League title race as strikers took the spotlight yesterday.

Aston Villa's club record signing Darren Bent made his mark with a debut goal for his new club in a 1-0 win that dented Manchester City's hopes.

Spain striker Fernando Torres reproduced his old clinical finishing, which has been largely missing this season, with two goals as a rejuvenated Liverpool beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-0 at Molineux.

That gave interim manager Kenny Dalglish, a lethal scorer in his day too, his first win in his second spell as Liverpool boss.

Berbatov's hat-trick — his third of the season — spearheaded unbeaten United to a 5-0 win over Birmingham City at Old Trafford while Van Persie's treble gave Arsenal a 3-0 triumph over Wigan Athletic at the Emirates Stadium where the Dutchman also missed a penalty.

United have 48 points from 22 games, two points ahead of Arsenal who have played one match more than the leaders.

Manchester City slipped from second to third on 45 points having played 24 games.

Bent, who joined Villa from Sunderland this week for £18 million (RM90 million), found City's net after 18 minutes for the only goal of the game at Villa Park, pouncing on a poor flap from goalkeeper Joe Hart.

Champions Chelsea, who have 38 points from 22 matches, will get the chance to close the gap on the leading trio when they travel to Bolton Wanderers tomorrow.

It took Berbatov two minutes to find the net at Old Trafford, heading in from point-blank range as United took a grip of a game they never relinquished.

The Bulgarian, who has scored three against Liverpool and five against Blackburn Rovers this season, was on target again after 31 and 53 minutes to take his league tally to 17 goals.

Berbatov also played a part in Ryan Giggs's goal just before halftime. Nani added the fifth after 76 minutes.

"I was delighted we got a good start, that puts the other team under a lot of pressure. They have a plan and then they have to change it," United manager Alex Ferguson told Sky Sports.

"We played very well, the passing was good and we produced a good performance today."

While Berbatov was banging in the goals in Manchester, Van Persie was doing the same in North London as Arsenal made it six wins out of six in home Premier League matches against Wigan.

Van Persie, who missed two months of the season through injury but is now returning to his best form, has scored six goals in his last three games but could have made that seven after blasting a penalty high over the Wigan bar.

Manager Arsene Wenger said Arsenal could have scored as many as 10 goals such was their command of the match. "But what is most important was the team performance, which was great," he added.

"We know we have eight home games left and it is important we win them. We are hungry and we want to do well."

Fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur lost ground on the leaders but were relieved to leave Newcastle United with a point after Aaron Lennon equalised in stoppage time to earn a 1-1 draw.

Fabricio Coloccini celebrated his birthday by putting Newcastle ahead after 59 minutes. — Reuters

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