Raheem Sterling scored a hat-trick in Manchester City's 5-0 thrashing of West Ham last weekendRaheem Sterling scored a hat-trick in Manchester City's 5-0 thrashing of West Ham last weekend (AFP Photo/Ian KINGTON)
London (AFP) - Raheem Sterling scored a hat-trick as Manchester City launched the defence of their Premier League title in style on Saturday before Harry Kane scored two late goals to complete a dramatic comeback against Aston Villa.
Pep Guardiola's City thumped West Ham 5-0 in the early kick-off but despite City's devastating display, the use of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system for the first time in the Premier League proved the big talking point.
In the later match, Champions League finalists Spurs recovered from the shock of conceding an early goal to beat newly promoted Villa 3-1, with a goal for new signing Tanguy Ndombele and two in the last five minutes for Kane.
Elsewhere, there were big wins for Burnley and Brighton.
City, whose match at the London Stadium was interrupted by a series of reviews, had a goal ruled out for the tightest of offside calls against Sterling and Sergio Aguero was given the chance to retake a penalty by VAR after seeing his first attempt saved.
"Only what I wish is that VAR doesn't make mistakes please," said Guardiola, who felt that his side's disallowed goal should have stood.
Liverpool's 4-1 victory over Norwich on Friday sent the message to City that they are up for another titanic title battle after missing out by just one point last season.
But in a worrying sign for those trying to stop Guardiola's men romping to a third straight league crown, City cruised to victory despite being far from their best before half-time.
The visitors led at the break thanks to Gabriel Jesus's opener, but moved through the gears after the break as Sterling scored twice.
Aguero then denied the England international the chance to seal his hat-trick from the spot, before the 24-year-old eventually grabbed his third goal of the game in stoppage time.
"Perfect start? It terms of the result yes, in terms of the performance no," said the ever-demanding Guardiola. "In the first-half we were sloppy with our passes."
- Kane double -
In the evening kick-off Spurs were given a huge scare by Villa, who led for the bulk of the game at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium through John McGinn's early strike.
But relentless pressure from the Champions League finalists eventually told as France midfielder Ndombele equalised in the 73rd minute.
England captain Kane broke the visitors' hearts with a finish from close range in the 86th minute and made sure of all three points with a composed finish into the bottom corner with 90 minutes on the clock.
"We came out in the second half with a high tempo, pressed well," said Kane. "When Tanguy got his goal it was full throttle until the end. Thankfully a couple of chances fell to me."
"It's the first game but it's always nice to win, at home as well," added the England captain. "We know we have the quality, we have been in big games. It's down to us players to perform on the pitch."
Brighton's new manager Graham Potter enjoyed a dream start to his time in charge as the Seagulls beat last season's FA Cup finalists Watford 3-0 at Vicarage Road.
Abdoulaye Doucoure's own goal gave the visitors a half-time lead before Florin Andone and Neil Maupay on his debut sealed a highly impressive three points for a Brighton side that narrowly escaped relegation last season.
Burnley were also 3-0 winners at Turf Moor as an Ashley Barnes double and Johann Gudmundsson's strike condemned Southampton to a heavy defeat.
Crystal Palace's wantaway star Wilfried Zaha put his grievances with the club's hierarchy behind him to make an appearance as a second-half substitute against Everton, but neither side could break the deadlock in a 0-0 draw.
Sheffield United grabbed a late point away to Bournemouth on their return to the top flight, with Billy Sharp cancelling out an earlier Chris Mepham strike to salvage a 1-1 draw for the Blades.
Manchester United host Chelsea on Sunday while Arsenal travel to Newcastle and Leicester take on Wolves.