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Soccer-Liverpool thump toothless Spurs, Arsenal held by Leicester

Reuters

By Tom Hayward

LONDON, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Liverpool produced an irresistible performance to dismantle a toothless Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 and Arsenal were held 1-1 by Leicester City in the Premier League on Sunday.

Raheem Sterling, Steven Gerrard and Alberto Moreno were on target as Liverpool bounced back from defeat by champions Manchester City with a classy performance at White Hart Lane that ended Tottenham's perfect start to the season.

Arsenal missed the chance to move up to third in the table after they were frustrated by a dogged performance from promoted Leicester.

Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring with his first Premier League goal but Arsenal were pegged back within two minutes by Leicester's record signing Leonardo Ulloa.

Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann scored as third-placed Aston Villa maintained their unbeaten start to the campaign with a 2-1 victory over Hull City at Villa Park.

Liverpool handed a debut to enigmatic striker Mario Balotelli who made amends for his wasteful finishing with an impressive and hard-working contribution.

Liverpool moved up to fifth in the table, level with Tottenham on six points.

"It was great link-up play by Daniel (Sturridge) and Jordan (Henderson). The manager has been telling me to get inside the post and try add to my goal tally and that's what I've done," Sterling told Sky Sports.

"Mario and Daniel up front is always a threat and I've got to try be in the box to get some goals."

EXPLOSIVE START

Balotelli nearly enjoyed a dream start inside three minutes but his powerful close-range header was parried by Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

Spurs had been joint league leaders after winning their opening two games without conceding a goal but were left reeling by Liverpool's explosive start.

Sturridge and Henderson linked up well and the latter's cross was steered in from an acute angle at the far post by Sterling in the eighth minute.

Tottenham took just one point from eight games against last season's top four, conceding 27 goals and scoring two, and Sterling's goal signalled the start of another forgettable day.

Liverpool started the second half with the same intent and Gerrard coolly converted a penalty after Joe Allen had been needlessly pulled back by Eric Dier.

Moreno added a third with a superb solo run and finish after he had dispossessed Andros Townsend on the halfway line.

IMPRESSIVE ULLOA

Arsenal dominated for long spells but appeared to miss the presence of last season's top scorer Oliver Giroud, who faces up to four months on the sidelines with a broken leg.

They sit seventh in the standings while Leicester, in 15th, remain winless but have performed well in their three games against three of last season's top five since returning to the Premier League.

"I am happy because we have one point more and the team played well," Ulloa told Sky Sports. "The cross was fantastic. I worked hard for that (goal) and I'm happy."

The Gunners opened the scoring in the 20th minute through Sanchez.

Santi Cazorla opened up the Leicester defence with an audacious chip and Yaya Sanogo's unconvincing effort fell to the Chile forward who fired home the loose ball.

Within two minutes the hosts had restored parity through Ulloa who scored his second goal in three games for Leicester with a bullet header.

Ulloa should have put his side in front shortly after the break but he shot into the side netting after he had done brilliantly to create space for himself.

"We lost two points but we have to respect the performance of Leicester and be realistic," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.

"We could have lost the game in the end. Our game was not quick enough, not sharp enough, not simple enough. We had plenty of opportunities but didn't look like we could finish the game off. Leicester fought. We had a good spirit but lacked the creative side of our game."

Aston Villa suffered a shock 1-0 home loss to third-tier Leyton Orient in the League Cup on Wednesday but they reacted positively against Hull.

The lively Agbonlahor opened the scoring in the 14th minute with a pinpoint finish from Weimann's clever layoff.

The hosts doubled their lead after 36 minutes when Weimann capped a flowing move with an accurate shot.

Villa were coasting but were made to sweat when Nikica Jelavic headed home in the 74th minute to set up a tense finale.

Chelsea and Swansea City top the table on nine points from three games. (Editing by Ed Osmond)

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