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Liverpool, Arsenal earn Premier League wins

Sunday - 9/1/2013, 7:45pm  ET

Manchester United's Tom Cleverley, left, clears the ball away from Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho, centre, as Michael Carrick looks on during their English Premier League soccer match at Anfield Stadium, Liverpool, England, Sunday Sept. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

LONDON (AP) -- Liverpool and Arsenal relied on goals from their in-form strikers to secure 1-0 home wins over their biggest rivals on Sunday, handing Manchester United and Tottenham their first lossess of the Premier League season.

England international Daniel Sturridge flicked home a fourth-minute header from close range on his 24th birthday in Liverpool's gritty victory over United at Anfield, putting his team top of the standings on a maximum nine points from three games.

France striker Olivier Giroud also grabbed his third goal in as many games, settling the north London derby at Emirates Stadium against a Tottenham side that has spent a lot of money this summer but still hasn't scored in open play. Shortly after the game, Tottenham completed the drawn-out blockbuster deal to sell star winger Gareth Bale to Real Madrid.

Swansea claimed its first points of the campaign in Sunday's other game, beating West Bromwich Albion 2-0 thanks to goals by Ben Davies and Pablo Hernandez.

The English league may be only three weeks old, but it is still strange to see United not in the division's top four.

After drawing 0-0 with Chelsea on Monday and then losing to Liverpool, the reigning champions have four points from a possible nine under new manager David Moyes. Failing to score in two straight games is unusual for United, and it didn't help that Wayne Rooney was unavailable on Sunday after cutting his forehead in an accidental training-ground collision with a teammate.

United's scoring woes prompted one of the club's most famous fans, Usain Bolt, to post a short video on social networking sight Instagram imploring Moyes to sign "a creative midfielder, one that can pass and create opportunities, right now."

It's all positives at Liverpool, though.

For the first time since the 1993-94 season, the team has won its first three league matches -- all of them 1-0 and all of them secured by Sturridge. He is proving a more-than able fill-in for Luis Suarez, who remains out of action through suspension for biting an opponent last season.


BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -- Cristiano Ronaldo helped Real Madrid roll to a 3-1 win over Athletic Bilbao Sunday hours before the Spanish club announced it had signed Gareth Bale to pair him with the Portugal forward in one of the most formidable attacks in football.

Not to be overshadowed by Bale's imminent arrival, Lionel Messi needed 41 minutes to score his 23rd career hat trick for Barcelona in a thrilling 3-2 victory at Valencia.

Having gone scoreless in Madrid's first two wins to start season, Ronaldo headed in Madrid's second goal in first-half injury time to add to Francisco "Isco" Alarcon's 26th-minute opener from Karim Benzema's pass.

Benzema assisted Isco again in the 73rd for his third goal in as many games since joining from Malaga this offseason.

"Things are going well considering we have just started the season, three for three so far," said the 21-year-old Isco. "We are getting better game by game. That's our goal."

Messi started his treble in the 11th when Sergio Busquets intercepted a pass and shuffled the ball to Cesc Fabregas, who then used one touch to send Messi charging into the area and over goalkeeper Diego Alves before rolling the ball home.

The sequence of Busquets robbing the ball, Fabregas assisting, and Messi scoring repeated itself in the 39th.

Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino had said after Barcelona's 0-0 draw against Atletico Madrid earlier this week that he wanted Messi and Neymar to link up more in attack.

Martino got what he had asked for when Neymar picked out Messi arriving down the middle of the area to slice his pass into the net for his league-leading fifth goal in two games after sitting out one match due to a muscle problem.

But just when it appeared Barcelona would romp, Valencia striker Helder Postiga used an acrobatic volley to pull one back in the 44th before he scored with a header from a corner kick in first-half injury time.

Neymar was involved twice more in almost getting Messi another goal, only to see the Argentine miss both late chances before goalkeeper Victor Valdes was forced to tip the shot by Valencia substitute Jonas off his post four minutes from time.

"The concern that Messi and Neymar didn't combine in their first game together, well, they solved that in 24 hours," Martino said.

Elsewhere, Atletico won 2-1 at Real Sociedad thanks to David Villa's goal in the 27th and assist for Jorge "Koke" Resurreccion to add a second in the 56th.

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