Football: City lose, United's slump continues

Angel di Maria of Manchester United. Photo / AP
Angel di Maria of Manchester United. Photo / AP

Manchester City slumped to a surprise first defeat in the defense of its Premier League title on Saturday, losing 1-0 to Stoke as the problems of arch-rival Manchester United mounted despite an encouraging debut from new signing Angel Di Maria.

After a lackluster United drew 0-0 at promoted Burnley to stay without a win in three league games, City was stunned at its usually impregnable Etihad Stadium thanks to a brilliant solo winner by former United striker Mame Biram Diouf.

Instead, it was Swansea which secured a third straight win to open the new season, beating West Bromwich Albion 3-0 with two goals from Nathan Dyer. Chelsea can join the Welsh team on nine points with a victory at Everton later Saturday.

Wilfried Zaha scored an injury-time equalizer on his second debut for Crystal Palace in a 3-3 draw at Newcastle while Southampton and Queens Park Rangers earned first wins of the season.

City and United had hundreds of millions' worth of attacking talent on show in the third round of the Premier League but couldn't muster a goal between them.

A flat display by City, five days after its impressive 3-1 win over Liverpool, was punished when Diouf ran the length of the field in the 58th minute to shoot between goalkeeper Joe Hart's legs.

"I tried just to stay on my feet and keep on going," Diouf said. "We will enjoy this win - it is a big one."

It was Stoke's first-ever goal at the Etihad and earned the team a first win of the season under Mark Hughes, the former City manager.

City failed to score at home for only the second time in 71 Premier League games, even with Argentina striker Sergio Aguero back in the lineup after regaining full fitness.

"It's a surprising defeat because we don't expect to lose against Stoke but these games sometimes happen," City manager Manuel Pellegrini said. "We tried from everywhere and really we were not very creative, we did not find the space and that is credit to Stoke."

Di Maria made his first start for United after his British-record move from Real Madrid for 59.7 million pounds ($99 million) and showed enough signs that he will be a success at Old Trafford.

He still couldn't inspire Louis van Gaal's team to a first win in any competition this season, with United lacking a cutting edge despite fielding Di Maria, Juan Mata, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney in an exciting front four.

Van Persie was denied twice with United's best chances, leaving the 20-time champions on two points after three games despite spending about 130 million pounds ($215 million) this summer.

Swansea is the surprise package so far this season, following up wins over United and Burnley with a comfortable three points against West Brom courtesy of Dyer's brace and Wayne Routledge's goal from outside the area.

Neil Warnock's first game back as Palace manager was a thrilling one, with his side twice surrendering the lead and then needing Zaha's goal five minutes into stoppage time.

Mike Williamson thought he had given Newcastle its first win of the season with his first goal for five years in the 88th minute, after Daryl Janmaat and Rolando Aarons had canceled out earlier efforts from Dwight Gayle - after 30 seconds - and Jason Puncheon.

QPR beat Sunderland 1-0 at home thanks to Charlie Austin's 45th-minute goal and Southampton won 3-1 at West Ham, with Morgan Schneiderlin scoring twice.

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