London: Free-scoring Manchester United’s rip-roaring start to the Premier League season continued with a 3-1 defeat of Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday after rivals Manchester City threw away a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw at Fulham
Goals from Chris Smalling, Nani and Wayne Rooney mean Alex Ferguson’s side boast the only 100 percent record in the Premier League after five games and lead the table by two points from City, who were left kicking themselves.
Liverpool’s top-four ambitions were exposed in a 4-0 mauling at Tottenham Hotspur where they had Charlie Adam and Martin Skrtel sent off in their worst league defeat since 2003.
Sunderland were also 4-0 winners at home to Stoke City.
United have made their best start to a league season for 26 years and have now beaten Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Chelsea at Old Trafford, scoring 14 goals in the process and accumulating a plus 17 goal difference overall.
Yet despite leading 3-0 at halftime it was not as straightforward as the scoreline suggested and Fernando Torres, who finally doubled his Chelsea goal tally with his side’s reply, could have made it a nervy finale had the Spaniard not inexplicably blazed wide late on with the goal gaping.
“For neutrals it was a very open game,” United manager Alex Ferguson told Sky Sports. “Usually it’s a very tight affair with Chelsea but we gave the ball away so many times and they kept counter-attacking.
“Some of the football was fantastic but we were very careless,” added the Scot, who branded a tackle by Chelsea left back Ashley Cole on Javier Hernandez which left the Mexican with a numb leg as “shocking.”
United took the lead after eight minutes when the unmarked and possibly offside Smalling met a curling delivery from Ashley Young to power a header past Petr Cech.
Torres, who gave one of his most lively displays since arriving from Liverpool in January, missed a chance to level and team mate Ramires also gave United a let-off when he shot straight at United keeper David De Gea.
Nani punished Chelsea in spectacular style when the Portuguese cut in from the right after 37 minutes and arrowed an unstoppable shot into the top corner.
It looked all over for Chelsea just before the interval when Nani blocked skipper John Terry’s attempted clearance and the ball fell invitingly for the grateful Rooney to fire his ninth league goal of the season.
Torres cut the deficit immediately after the break when he ran on to Nicolas Anelka’s through ball and expertly flicked the ball over De Gea with the outside of his right foot.
Rooney wasted the chance to make it 4-1 when he slipped while taking a spot kick after Nani had been fouled in the area trying to reach a rebound after he had rattled the crossbar.
Chelsea, previously unbeaten under new coach Andre Villas-Boas, were always in the game and troubled Torres was left shaking his head when he rounded De Gea with eight minutes left but somehow failed to find the back of the net.