Benitez vows to stay as Torres gives Liverpool winning Premier League start

Other News Materials 17 August 2008 06:18 (UTC +04:00)

Rafa Benitez pledged to stay at Liverpool after Fernando Torres gave his side a barely-deserved 1-0 win in their Premier League opener at Sunderland on Saturday, AFP reported.

Benitez saw his side outplayed by Standard Liege in the Champions League on Wednesday, then had to read reports that he was considering his future in the aftermath of his dispute with the club's hierarchy over the failed attempt to sign Gareth Barry from Aston Villa.

But the Spanish coach is adamant he has no intention of walking away from Anfield.

"I am not thinking of leaving. My commitment with the club, the fans and the players is so big that just because I can be disappointed about different things I won't stop trying my best to achieve all of the targets that we have established as a team," Benitez said.

Although Liverpool were poor for long spells at the Stadium of Light, Spanish Euro 2008 winner Torres showed his predatory instincts to end the week on a high note.

Torres had seen his strike partner Robbie Keane accidently block a goalbound effort in the second half, but the Spaniard wasn't discouraged and rifled home from 20 yards in the 83rd minute.

In a pointed reminder to Liverpool's directors, Benitez emphasised the value of big-money signings like Torres.

"Torres is a key player and he can change games," Benitez said. "With strikers you talk about goals but he was working really hard against their centre backs. It is important for the team to have this type of player."

Samir Nasri gave Arsenal's young guns a winning start as the France midfielder's debut goal clinched a 1-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion.

Nasri, 21, struck early in the first half at the Emirates Stadium to calm fears that the close-season departures of Mathieu Flamini, Alexander Hleb and Gilberto Silva would cast Arsenal adrift of their title rivals.

Arsene Wenger sent out a youthful team that lacked a host of injured stars including Cesc Fabregas and Kolo Toure. But it took the Gunners just four minutes to carve open newly promoted Albion.

Gael Clichy played Denilson in down the left wing and the Brazilian's cutback teed-up Nasri, a 12-million-pounds signing from Marseille, to sidefoot a cool finish past Scott Carson.

"I don't think we were sharp enough to finish what we created," Wenger said. "I also believe that with everyone fit, we can create more clear cut chances.

"I am confident in us. I know we are not making headlines with big names but it is what we produce on the pitch which is important."

Tottenham's bid to break into the top four got off to a dismal start as David Wheater and Mido gave Middlesbrough a 2-1 victory over Juande Ramos's side at the Riverside Stadium.

Dimitar Berbatov came on as a second-half substitute for Tottenham despite reports that the Bulgaria striker is on the verge of joining Manchester United.

But Wheater put Middlesbrough ahead in the 71st minute and former Tottenham striker Mido added the second in the 86th minute. Robert Huth's last minute own goal was too late for Spurs.

Ramos refused to be drawn on the Berbatov speculation and said: "For the moment Berbatov is a Spurs player. We are happy with him, he is part of the Spurs squad and there is nothing to say about it."

Blackburn boss Paul Ince enjoyed a dramatic winning debut as Andre Ooijer's last-gasp goal stole a 3-2 success at Everton.

Blackburn went ahead in the 22nd minute through David Dunn. But a mistake by Rovers debutant Paul Robinson allowed Mikel Arteta's swirling free-kick to creep in on the stroke of half-time.

Arteta set up Ayegbeni Yakubu's 64th minute goal but Everton's lead was short-lived as Roque Santa Cruz levelled two minutes later before Dutch defender Ooijer scrambled in the winner in the 90th minute.

"We have won at Everton and not many teams do that apart from the top four. It was a great achievement," Ince said.

Hull won their first ever Premier League match as Caleb Folan's late strike sealed a 2-1 success against Fulham.

Phil Brown's side, playing in the top-flight for the first time in their 104-year history, fell behind to South Korea winger Seol Ki-Hyeon's eighth minute goal at the KC Stadium.

But Brazilian midfielder Geovanni equalised with a superb effort in the 22nd minute and Folan came off the bench to snatch the winner with nine minutes left.

Dean Ashton eased the pressure on West Ham manager Alan Curbishley and made his case for an England call-up with both goals in the Hammers' 2-1 win against Wigan. Egypt forward Amr Zaki replied for Wigan in the 47th minute.

Bolton handed Stoke a harsh reminder of the vast gap between the Premier League and the Championship as Gary Megson's side beat newly-promoted City 3-1.

Stoke, back among English football's elite for the first time since 1985, were down and out by half-time after being blitzed by goals from Gretar Steinsson, Kevin Davies and Johan Elmander. Ricardo Fuller's injury-time strike was little consolation for Stoke.