Barca leave it late, United beat Liverpool

LONDON Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:22am IST

Manchester United's Patrice Evra squirts his face with water during their English Premier League soccer match against Liverpool at Anfield in Liverpool, northern England September 23, 2012. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Manchester United's Patrice Evra squirts his face with water during their English Premier League soccer match against Liverpool at Anfield in Liverpool, northern England September 23, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Phil Noble

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LONDON (Reuters) - Barcelona left it late to maintain their perfect start to the season against Granada on Saturday and Real Madrid's match at Rayo Vallecano on Sunday was called off in bizarre circumstances after the floodlights were sabotaged.

In the Premier League, Manchester United beat Liverpool 2-1 in an emotionally-charged atmosphere at Anfield on Sunday after players and fans paid an emotional tribute to those who died in the Hillsborough stadium disaster in 1989. Champions Manchester City were held to a 1-1 draw by Arsenal.

SPAIN

Barcelona made it five wins out of five and stretched their lead at the top to four points but were made to sweat in a 2-0 home win over Granada on Saturday.

Xavi finally broke the deadlock four minutes from time with a well-executed volley that crashed in off the crossbar and a mazy Lionel Messi run into the box forced a Granada own goal in stoppage time.

Malaga were held to a 0-0 draw at Athletic Bilbao and dropped below Real Mallorca into third after the Balearic Islanders beat struggling Valencia 2-0.

Champions Real Madrid were due to play at city rivals Rayo Vallecano in Sunday's late kickoff but the match was abandoned in bizarre circumstances after Rayo officials said the lighting at their Estadio de Vallecas stadium had been sabotaged.

The game, which will likely be played on Monday, was due to kick off at 2130 local time (1930 GMT) but the stadium was in semi-darkness and fans were still waiting outside the locked arena as workmen toiled to fix the affected lights.

Real were looking to get their campaign back on track after taking only four points from their opening four games.

ENGLAND

Robin van Persie's late penalty earned Manchester United a 2-1 victory at Liverpool on Sunday in a north-west derby that marked the first match at Anfield since the publication of the Hillsborough report.

Players and fans from both clubs generally respected the pre-match tributes to the 96 people killed in the 1989 tragedy, with captains Steven Gerrard and Ryan Giggs releasing 96 balloons before kickoff.

An emotional day at Anfield ended in despair for Liverpool as Van Persie fired home from the spot to seal United's first win at their arch-rivals since 2007 and lift them to second in the table.

Chelsea are a point clear at the top after a 1-0 win against Stoke City. Champions Manchester City were held 1-1 by Arsenal, Laurent Koscielny scoring a late equaliser after Joleon Lescott had put City ahead.

ITALY

Champions Juventus are the only team with 12 points from their first four matches after beating Chievo 2-0 with two goals from Fabio Quagliarella.

Napoli, Sampdoria and Lazio, who also won their first three games, failed to keep the momentum going. Napoli drew 0-0 at Catania, Sampdoria were held 1-1 at home by Torino and Lazio lost 1-0 at home to Genoa.

AC Milan and Inter both lost. Milan had Cristian Zapata and Kevin-Prince Boateng sent off as they went down 2-1 at Udinese, their third defeat in four opening games.

Inter suffered a shock 2-0 defeat at home to previously winless Siena.

GERMANY

Defending champions Borussia Dortmund's 31-match unbeaten run in the Bundesliga came to an end when they were beaten 3-2 at previously winless Hamburg SV.

South Korea's Son Heung-min scored twice as Hamburg came from 2-1 behind.

Dortmund have seven points from four games and the defeat left them five adrift of leading pair Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt, who both won to maintain 100 percent records.

Toni Kroos and Thomas Mueller scored to give Bayern a 2-0 win over Schalke 04. Promoted Eintracht beat Nuremberg 2-1 on Friday.

FRANCE

Olympique Marseille extended their perfect season start to become the first French club in more than 50 years to win their six first games as they defeated Evian Thonon Gaillard 1-0.

Marseille top the table on 18 points, four ahead of Olympique Lyon who drew 1-1 at Lille. The 2011 champions' poor run continues, leaving them 12th on seven points.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the league's top scorer after he netted twice and set up another to help Paris St Germain hammer promoted Bastia 4-0.

Unbeaten PSG are third on 12 points, tied with Lorient who recovered from a goal down to rescue a point against Nice despite being reduced to ten men.

NETHERLANDS

Dusan Tadic converted a penalty as Twente Enschede beat Heerenveen 1-0 to maintain their perfect start to the season with their sixth straight win.

Twente are four points clear of second place Vitesse Arnhem, who drew 1-1 against Heracles Almelo, while two points further adrift are Ajax Amsterdam who drew 1-1 at ADO Den Haag and PSV Eindhoven who beat Feyenoord 3-0.

PORTUGAL

Champions Porto cruised past Beira Mar 4-0 at home to go top of the Portuguese championship with 10 points from their opening four matches.

Porto's Colombia striker Jackson Martinez scored a stylish opener with a spectacular scissor kick after 33 minutes, which was followed by goals from Portugal international Silvestre Varela and South Americans James Rodriguez and Maicon.

Second place Benfica are now two points behind Porto after being held to a 2-2 draw by 10-man Academica in Coimbra.

(Writing by Toby Davis; editing by Ed Osmond)

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