Skip to main content

Classic Premier League openers after Liverpool and Leeds play out thriller

Soccer – FA Carling Premiership – Middlesbrough v Liverpool
(Image credit: Dave Kendall)

Champions Liverpool and promoted Leeds served up a thrilling contest in their Premier League opener on Saturday.

Here, the PA news agency looks back on the match and some other memorable first-day fixtures from down the years.

1992: Sheffield United 2 Manchester United 1

This game was not a classic like those below but it did feature the first Premier League goal. Brian Deane scored it, then won it for the hosts from the spot after Mark Hughes had levelled. Fortunes soon changed, though, as the side from Old Trafford recovered to win the title and the Blades were relegated.

1994: Sheffield Wednesday 3 Tottenham 4

This launched what was meant to be a continental new era for Spurs, with Jurgen Klinsmann leading the line after a move from Monaco. He delivered too, scoring and then performing one of the Premier League’s most memorable celebrations – a dive to live up to his reputation. Despite the German’s 21 goals, Spurs could only finish the season seventh.

1996: Middlesbrough 3 Liverpool 3

It was shirts-over-your-head time at the Riverside as Fabrizio Ravanelli marked his Boro debut with a hat-trick. The White Feather took on Liverpool’s Spice Boys and nearly came out on top but, at the end of the season, Boro went down despite the Italian’s 16 goals.

1996: Wimbledon 0 Manchester United 3

David Beckham’s majestic lob from his own half triggered one of the English game’s most celebrated and high-profile careers. Beckham was a well-established prospect before he caught Neil Sullivan napping – but this goal certainly helped him make a name for himself.

2013: Arsenal 1 Aston Villa 3

Boos rang out for Arsene Wenger as Arsenal kicked off the season with an embarrassing home defeat. Christian Benteke scored twice for Villa and the loss had such an impact that the normally cautious Wenger went into the transfer market and splashed out on Mesut Ozil. Arsenal recovered, topped the table for some time and also won the FA Cup.

2014: Burnley 1 Chelsea 3

It was a winning start for Jose Mourinho in 2014

It was a winning start for Jose Mourinho in 2014 (Martin Rickett/PA)

After a season of transition in Jose Mourinho’s first one back, this was Chelsea’s chance to show they were ready for a title tilt – and they were. After trailing to a Scott Arfield goal against the newly-promoted Clarets, Diego Costa equalised, Cesc Fabregas brilliantly assisted for Andre Schurrle and Branislav Ivanovic got a third. The Blues went top and stayed there until the end of the campaign.

2016: Hull 2 Leicester 1

Leicester became the first reigning Premier League champions to lose their opening game. Newly-promoted Hull suffered a chaotic summer, losing boss Steve Bruce and seeing fans protest at the Allam family’s ownership of the club – but they won with goals from Adama Diomande and Robert Snodgrass, either side of Riyad Mahrez’s penalty.

2016: Arsenal 3 Liverpool 4

The hosts took the lead through Theo Walcott, who recovered from seeing a penalty saved by Simon Mignolet to score just 69 seconds later. However, Jurgen Klopp’s side stormed back as Philippe Coutinho (2), Adam Lallana and Sadio Mane put them 4-1 ahead, before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Calum Chambers set up an exciting finish to a thrilling game.

2017: Arsenal 4 Leicester 3

Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud celebrates in 2017

Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud celebrates in 2017 (Nick Potts/PA)

The night started perfectly for Arsenal as new signing Alexandre Lacazette marked his league debut with a goal after just 94 seconds, only for Shinji Okazaki to level three minutes later. Jamie Vardy then capitalised on poor defending to twice put the Foxes ahead either side of Danny Welbeck’s equaliser. However Aaron Ramsey levelled, then fellow substitute Olivier Giroud’s 85th-minute goal settled a breathless encounter in Arsenal’s favour.

2017: Watford 3 Liverpool 3

Stefano Okaka gave Watford an eighth-minute lead, with Abdoulaye Doucoure re-establishing their one-goal advantage shortly after Sadio Mane had equalised. Roberto Firmino levelled from the penalty spot after debutant Mohamed Salah was fouled, with the Egypt international then poking Liverpool ahead – only for Miguel Britos to equalise from what appeared to be an offside position and give Marco Silva a positive first outing as Watford boss.

2020: Liverpool 4 Leeds 3

Champions Liverpool were given a scare by a fired-up Leeds side playing their first top-flight match in 16 years but ultimately a Salah hat-trick proved decisive. Three times the Reds were pegged back after taking the lead with a Salah penalty, Virgil Van Dijk header and another strike from the Egyptian, with equalisers coming from Jack Harrison, Patrick Bamford and Mat Klich. Salah finally settled the contest with a second spot-kick two minutes from time.