Rafael Benitez said his Liverpool side’s belief will be the key to their success this season as they slug it out for the English Premier League title. The Spaniard said the character shown by his Reds was “fantastic” as they kept pace with Chelsea at the top of the table. Liverpool fought back to a last-gasp 3-2 victory at 10-man Manchester City as Chelsea beat visitors Aston Villa 2-0 on Sunday to leave both sides level on points, with the Blues ahead on goal difference.
Liverpool were 2-0 down at Manchester City before Fernando Torres leveled with two goals and Dirk Kuyt snatched an injury-time winner.
“The belief of the players was the key to our success,” Benitez told reporters. “I just told the team at halftime that we just needed one goal to get back in the game. Our character and determination shone through in the second half. It was fantastic. Physically were are in good condition as well and the players are ready for every game.”
Stephen Ireland put City ahead at Eastlands in the 19th minute and Javier Garrido’s free-kick made it 2-0 at the interval.
But Spain striker Torres scored Liverpool’s 1,000th goal in the Premier League in the 55th minute, before City defender Pablo Zabaleta was sent off. Torres scored a 73rd-minute header before Netherlands forward Kuyt completed the comeback.
Chelsea outplayed Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge, hitting 27 shots to the visitors’ eight. England midfielder Joe Cole scored in the 21st minute and France striker Nicolas Anelka sealed the points a minute before halftime.
Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari said he was not prioritizing any one trophy this season.
“In all the competitions, I think about winning the competition and I say to my players the same — if you play any competition you need to win, you need to think ‘play to win,’” he said.
Top flight debutants Hull City heaped the pressure on Juande Ramos, manager of rock-bottom Tottenham Hotspur, with a 1-0 away win that moved the Tigers up to third in the table. And Newcastle salvaged a point in a 2-2 draw at Everton in Joe Kinnear’s first game in caretaker control of the Magpies. Bolton Wanderers won 3-1 at West Ham United and Portsmouth beat visitors Stoke City 2-1.
Hull City’s excellent start was continued by Geovanni’s stunning ninth-minute free-kick at White Hart Lane, which condemned Tottenham Hotspur to their worst start to a season for 96 years — their joint worst ever.
“It is dreamland,” Hull boss Phil Brown said. “I’ve never looked at the league table since the start of the season, now I’ll have to start looking.”
Asked if he would consider resigning, Ramos replied: “This is my job, my work. It is the same whether we win or lose.”
Crisis club Newcastle United fought back from 2-0 down against Everton at Goodison Park as Kinnear, serving a touchline ban, watched from the stands. Mikel Arteta and Marouane Fellaini put the Toffees ahead, but Steven Taylor and Damien Duff rescued a point for the Magpies to leave them third from bottom in the table.
Kinnear, whose explosive, profanity-filled rant in the build-up stunned reporters, got through his media interviews on Sunday without losing his cool.
“The situation at the club cannot get any lower. And everything that has been said this week hasn’t helped much,” he said.
Blunders by West Ham United goalkeeper Robert Green helped visitors Bolton Wanderers to a 3-1 victory at Upton Park. Kevin Davies and Gary Cahill capitalized on his first-half mistakes. Carlton Cole gave the Hammers hope, but Matthew Taylor’s late free-kick ensured West Ham’s first league defeat under new boss Gianfranco Zola.