Blackpool rout Wigan in Premiership opener

London: Blackpool marked their first top-flight match in 39 years with a surprise 4-0 win away to north-west rivals Wigan on the opening day of the new English Premier League season on Saturday.

Ian Holloway`s team, promoted via the playoffs, have been widely tipped to go straight back down, but the Tangerines were 3-0 up before half-time, with former Aston Villa striker Marlon Harewood scoring twice.

They were in front as early as the 16th minute at Wigan`s DW Stadium when Charlie Adam played in Harewood, whose cross was tapped in by Gary Taylor-Fletcher.

Harewood then held off Antolin Alcaraz, before beating Chris Kirkland from more than 20 yards for his first Premier League goal in two-and-a-half-years.

Two minutes before the break, Harewood tapped in after Elliot Grandin`s shot was parried.

Then, 15 minutes before full-time, Alex Baptiste made it 4-0 when his cross beat Kirkland at the goalkeeper`s near post.

"I don`t think any of us in our wildest, wildest dreams imagined we could come here and do something like that," said Holloway. "I`m so proud of the lads and the work ethic they showed."

Aston Villa showed there was life after Martin O`Neill with a 3-0 win at home to West Ham just days after their former manager`s resignation.

England goalkeeper Robert Green, playing his first senior match since his World Cup blunder, helped give Villa a 15th minute lead.

His poor punch led to a Marc Albrighton shot and, although Green palmed it away, Stewart Downing scored from the rebound.

Villa made it 2-0 when Stiliyan Petrov headed in five minutes before half-time.

And in what could be a parting gift to Villa fans, before his possible transfer to Manchester City, England midfielder James Milner made it 3-0 after shooting powerfully from Albrighton`s cut back in the 66th minute.

In Saturday`s early kick-off England goalkeeper Joe Hart -- chosen by Roberto Mancini ahead of Shay Given -- produced several fine saves to help big-spenders Manchester City secure a point in a goalless draw at Tottehnham.

But Everton`s United States goalkeeper Tim Howard gifted hosts Blackburn a 14th minute winner in a 1-0 victory when he somehow dropped a cross into the path of Nikola Kalinic, who duly scored.

Birmingham came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 against 10-man Sunderland.

Darren Bent opened the scoring for hosts Sunderland with a 24th minute penalty, after Frazier Campbell was brought down by Steve Carr, although it looked as if the foul had taken place outside the box.

But two minutes before the break, Sunderland captain Lee Cattermole became the first player sent-off in the Premier League this season after collecting two yellow cards.

Sunderland still went 2-0 up when Carr looped a header into his own net, trying to clear a cross under pressure from Campbell.

Birmingham hit back 13 minutes from time through Scott Dann`s header -- the defender`s first Premier League goal -- and were level when Liam Ridgewell turned in Sebastian Larsson`s cross.

Wolves beat Stoke 2-1 after Kenwyne Jones, Stoke`s club record eight million signing, limped off injured after just 14 minutes at Molineux.

The hosts scored twice in two minutes late in the first half, going ahead through a 20-yard strike from David Jones before Steven Fletcher headed in at the back post.

But Stoke scored early in the second half through Abdoulaye Faye`s header.

Bolton and Fulham shared the points in a goalless draw.

Defending champions Chelsea play promoted West Brom in Saturday`s late kick-off and Liverpool welcome Arsenal to Anfield on Sunday.

Meanwhile Manchester United, last season`s runners-up, face Championship winners Newcastle at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Bureau Report

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