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United open title defense with rout of Swansea City

Manchester United opened its defense of the Premier League title with a 4-1 victory over Swansea City on Saturday at the Liberty Stadium.

Saturday's season-opener marked the first Premier League match for new manager David Moyes, who took over for Sir Alex Ferguson last season, and braces from Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck made the new boss's debut a smashing success.

But it was the home side that had the better of the play early on, keeping much of the possession and making the Red Devils work hard in defense.

United, however, opened the scoring against the run of play in the 34th minute as Van Persie jumped on a failed clearance by Swansea's Angel Rangel and ripped it past Swans goalkeeper Michel Vorm with a fantastic strike on the half- volley.

Two minutes later, it was 2-0 for the defending champions as some more poor defending by Swansea led to a low cross in the box by Antonio Valencia and Welbeck tapped it home.

After the break United kept the pressure up and added a third goal in the 72nd minute when Van Persie completed his double with an excellent left-footed strike.

Wilfried Bony scored on his Swansea City debut to give the hosts some life, but Welbeck put the result to bed in stoppage time after he successfully chipped one over the head of Vorm and into the bottom left corner.

Moyes' side will face Chelsea next week at Old Trafford, while Swansea heads to White Hart Lane to battle Tottenham.

Liverpool 1, Stoke City 0

Liverpool, England - Simon Mignolet saved a penalty kick in the final minute of normal time on Saturday as Liverpool started its 2013-14 season with a 1-0 victory over Stoke City at Anfield.

The Reds dominated play early on, pinning the Potters in their own half for long stretches and finally snagged the game's only goal in the 37th minute when Daniel Sturridge opened his account with a delightful strike into the bottom right corner of the net to put the Reds ahead by a goal heading into the break.

Liverpool had several more chances to extend its lead in the second half, but late on it was a careless handball in the penalty area by defender Daniel Agger that handed Stoke a chance to equalize.

Jonathan Walters stepped up and blasted it toward the bottom left corner, but Mignolet got down quickly to keep it out, then saved another attempt by Kenwyne Jones on the rebound.

The result gives Brendan Rodgers' club a perfect start at home, while Stoke has not won at Anfield since 1959.

Aston Villa 3, Arsenal 1

London, England - Christian Benteke bagged a goal on either side of the break as Aston Villa stunned 10-man Arsenal by a 3-1 count at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

The hosts got the campaign off to a flying start when Olivier Giroud scored just six minutes into the game, but Benteke equalized for the Villans in the 22nd minute.

After the break, Villa took the lead just past the hour mark when Benteke completed his brace by converting a penalty kick, and six minutes later things got worse for the Gunners when defender Laurent Koscielny was sent off.

With the extra man, Villa finished the job five minutes from time when new signing Antonio Luna opened his account to give the visitors a two-goal margin.

Norwich City 2, Everton 2

Norwich, England - Ricky van Wolfswinkel scored 19 minutes from time on his Norwich City debut on Saturday as the Canaries opened their season with 2-2 draw against Everton at Carrow Road.

After a scoreless first half, the hosts struck first in the 51st minute when Steven Whittaker found the back of the net.

But the visitors pulled two goals back in a span of four minutes as Ross Barkley and Seamus Coleman scored in succession to put the Toffees ahead.

Wolfswinkel made sure his team claimed a point, however, as the new signing headed home a cross from Whittaker to put the sides on level terms.

Fulham 1, Sunderland 0

Sunderland, England - Pajtim Kasami netted the only goal of the match on Saturday as Fulham earned a 1-0 victory over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland bossed the game for much of the contest, keeping the majority of the possession and attempting 21 shots, but the Cottagers scored with their only shot on target to sneak away with three points.

In the 52nd minute of play, the goal came on a set-piece opportunity as Damien Duff lofted a cross into the box that was headed into the net by Kasemi for his first goal of the campaign.

Southampton 1, West Bromwich 0

West Bromwich, England - Rickie Lambert converted a penalty kick in the final minute of regulation as Southampton opened the season with a 1-0 result over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday at The Hawthorns.

Both sides struggled to generate many offensive chances as West Brom put just one shot on target, while the Saints managed three on goal.

But the game changed in favor of the visitors in the 88th minute when Sunderland's Youssuf Mulumbu dragged down Luke Shaw in the box, resulting in a spot kick.

Lambert, an England international, stepped up and calmly fired it past West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster to secure three points for the Saints.

West Ham 2, Cardiff City 0

London, England - West Ham United opened its 2013-14 season with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Premier League newcomers Cardiff City on Saturday at Upton Park.

The Hammers got their campaign off to a flying start 13 minutes into the match when Matthew Jarvis slid a nice, cutting ball to Joe Cole, who fired it past Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall.

Cardiff controlled the possession battle on the afternoon, keeping 56 percent of the ball, but they managed just one shot on target, and West Ham put the result away 14 minutes from time when Kevin Nolan ripped it home following a pass from Mark Noble.