Rooney ends drought as Man. U down West HamLONDON - Wayne Rooney ended his goal famine for Manchester United while Chelsea maintained a perfect start to the Premier League season.
After opening the season with consecutive 6-0 wins, Chelsea had to make do with a 2-0 victory over a spirited Stoke City side, as Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba were on target after Frank Lampard had a first-half penalty saved. Lampard was substituted and was promptly ruled out of England’s Euro 2012 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Switzerland with a hernia that will require surgery next week.
Tottenham Hotspur’s Peter Crouch and Fulham’s Bobby Zamora are also doubtful for England after picking up knocks, but there was better news for England coach Fabio Capello with the form of Rooney and Arsenal’s Theo Walcott.
Rooney tucked away a penalty before halftime in United’s 3-0 win against West Ham United in front of the watching Capello.
It marked Rooney’s first goal since a match against Bayern Munich in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final in March.
He then set up a second for Nani before Dimitar Berbatov completed the scoring at Old Trafford to put United at seven points along with Arsenal and two behind champions Chelsea, who have nine points and a whopping 14-0 goal difference.
Walcott was in sparkling form as Arsenal won 2-1 at Blackburn Rovers, putting the Gunners on the road to victory with his fourth goal of the season.
The shock of the day came at White Hart Lane where Wigan Athletic hit back from two crushing defeats to beat Champions League qualifiers Tottenham Hotspur 1-0. Hugo Rodallega’s late goal decided a fixture that Tottenham won 9-1 last season.
Blackpool’s first home match in the top flight since 1971 ended in a 2-2 draw with Fulham, while Andy Carroll was on target again for promoted Newcastle United, playing to a 1-1 draw at the unbeaten Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Chelsea have been unstoppable so far this season, but Stoke proved a much tougher proposition than they did at the back end of last season when they were hammered 7-0 at Stamford Bridge.
Lampard wasted the chance to put the hosts in front when his penalty - awarded for a foul on Malouda by Ryan Shawcross - was saved by Thomas Sorensen.
But Malouda spared his blushes soon afterward when he latched on to John Terry’s pass to score in style.
Stoke refused to buckle, however, and almost levelled when Matthew Etherington’s shot was blocked by Drogba and then when Glenn Whelan’s powerful shot struck the underside of the bar.
After 77 minutes Nicolas Anelka was brought down by Sorensen, and with Lampard having been substituted, Drogba made no mistake from the penalty spot to seal an efficient, rather than swashbuckling, victory.
“Today was not our best performance, there was a lot of difficulty in the game,” said Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti, whose side have now scored a record 32 unanswered goals in their last six league games dating back to last season.
“But I am happy because we won. We didn’t concede a goal, we maintained a clean sheet and we maintained the top of the table.”
Walcott has now matched his goal tally for the whole of the last campaign in just three games and had his manager, Arsene Wenger, purring on the sidelines.
“You judge a player by the numbers; the goals he scores, the assists when he is a striker and his numbers are already very, very good,” Wenger told Arsenal’s website (www.arsenal.com).
Walcott raced through to fire Arsenal ahead after 20 minutes, and although Mame Diouf levelled for Rovers on his first Premier League start, the Gunners sealed a deserved victory when Andrei Arshavin scored early in the second half.
The only blemish for Wenger was the sight of Dutch striker Robin van Persie limping off with a twisted ankle before halftime. Reuters
Striker Wayne Rooney scores from the penalty spot during the match between Manchester United and West Ham United on Aug. 28. [AFP/YONHAP]