Manchester United FC and FC Porto kicked off their domestic title defences with narrow victories on Sunday, their fortunes contrasting heavily with those of their potential rivals and their counterparts in Germany and France.
Draws for Chelsea FC, Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC left Manchester United with the perfect chance to send an early message in the Premier League, and they duly responded with a 2-1 success at West Bromwich Albion FC, Steven Reid's own goal nine minutes from time proving decisive. The win nonetheless came at a cost for Sir Alex Ferguson's men, with injuries to centre-back duo Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidić likely to rule them out for six and two weeks respectively, after Rafael dislocated his shoulder in training. "We've had a torrid two or three days," said Sir Alex.
Like United, UEFA Europa League holders Porto also made the most of slips from their chief rivals by kicking off with a victory. Having beaten Vitória SC 2-1 in the Portuguese Super Cup last weekend, the Dragons overcame the same opponents once again, prevailing 1-0 thanks to Hulk's 45th-minute penalty. Draws for SL Benfica, Sporting Clube de Portugal and SC Braga mean that Porto and Vitória FC are alone in boasting three points to their name.
Last season's early Bundesliga pacesetters 1. FSV Mainz 05 are making a strong impression this year too after they saw off SC Freiburg 2-1 to record their second straight triumph. Hannover 96 are the only other side with a 100% record following their 2-1 win at 1. FC Nürnberg, champions Borussia Dortmund having slumped to a 1-0 setback at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim. New FC Bayern München Jupp Heynckes coach has a win to cherish, in contrast, after his charges warmed up for their UEFA Champions League play-off tie with FC Zürich by grabbing a last-gasp 1-0 success at VfL Wolfsburg.
Over in France, last season's top dogs LOSC Lille Métropole are still looking for their first victory this term, and after drawing with AS Nancy-Lorraine last week they slipped to a 1-0 home loss at the hands of Montpellier Hérault SC. There was frustration for Olympique de Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain FC as well, with Marseille held 2-2 by AJ Auxerre and big-spending PSG drawing 1-1 at Stade Rennais FC. Due to face FC Rubin Kazan in the UEFA Champions League play-offs on Tuesday, Olympique Lyonnais will also want to put a disappointing weekend display behind them, having required a late equaliser to avoid a home loss to promoted AC Ajaccio.
For their part, Rubin played out a 1-1 draw with Russian Premier League leaders PFC CSKA Moskva. Closest pursuers FC Zenit St Petersburg remain two points shy, however, as they posted the same scoreline against FC Amkar Perm. In the Netherlands, finally, AFC Ajax impressed again courtesy of their 5-1 handling of sc Heerenveen, while FC Twente geared up for their UEFA Champions League play-off against Benfica with a 2-0 success against AZ Alkmaar, in which Marc Janko notched his fifth goal in as many matches.
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