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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chelsea Victorious in Season Opener

ReutersChelsea owner Roman Abramovich waving to fans before Sunday's game at Liverpool.
LONDON -- Chelsea's amazing preseason spending spree paid immediate dividends Sunday when the club opened its league campaign with a superb 2-1 victory at Liverpool thanks to a late winner by Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.

With champion Manchester United thrashing Bolton 4-0 and Arsenal beating Everton 2-1 on Saturday, Chelsea needed a fast start to its season and delivered it in style while billionaire Russian owner Roman Abramovich looked on.

Newcastle, third last season, drew 2-2 at Leeds United thanks to two goals from Alan Shearer, while Manchester City thrashed 10-man Charlton Athletic 3-0.

Abramovich, who has spent more than ?70 million ($112 million) on new players since taking over Chelsea in July, leapt for joy in the director's box as his expensive team completed only its third win at Anfield since World War II.

Hasselbaink, on as a second-half substitute, might not have played at all had Romanian striker Adrian Mutu received his international clearance in time.

But the Dutch striker showed that he will fight for his place amid all the new arrivals when he sped on to a through ball and beat Jerzy Dudek to score the winner after 87 minutes.

"It was a great start for us," Chelsea head coach Claudio Ranieri said. "It was fantastic. Jimmy is a great champion. He is a strong man.

"It's a new Chelsea with a lot of new players, but I saw our old character."

Eight minutes before Hasselbaink's winner Chelsea was fuming after the referee allowed Liverpool striker Michael Owen to retake a missed penalty because Chelsea keeper Carlo Cudicini had stepped off his line.

Match officials have been told to keep an eye on the movement of goalkeepers at penalties this season.

Owen made the most of his second attempt, smashing it high into the net to even the score at 1-1, canceling out Argentine midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron's 25th-minute opener for Chelsea.

"I thought the turning point would be the equalizer, but it didn't prove to be the case," Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier said.

"We had a lot of chances, but at the moment they aren't going our way," the Frenchman said.

"We had a good Liverpool performance in terms of effort and running. We had a lot of the ball, but once the first goal was scored, we knew it would be difficult."

Ranieri asked Chelsea's fans to give his team time to blend despite the rare win at Liverpool.

"The team isn't a team yet, and that's okay. It will be slowly, slowly for us. That is normal when you change a lot of players and new players arrive," Ranieri told reporters.

"Playing your first match at Liverpool isn't easy, but this win is important, and it gives us a lot of confidence," the Italian said.

"We made mistakes because for my players everything is new. But I was very pleased because the old players showed the same character as the new players."

At Elland Road, Shearer also scored late to give title aspirant Newcastle its draw against Leeds. Shearer pounced after 88 minutes to avert a disappointing defeat for Bobby Robson's team.

The 33-year-old former England captain put Newcastle ahead from the penalty spot in the first half before Mark Viduka and the excellent Alan Smith gave Leeds a 2-1 advantage.

The draw was the least Newcastle deserved for a pulsating second-half display and made for a satisfactory end to the day for their two ex-Leeds players, Lee Bowyer and Jonathan Woodgate.

Goals by Frenchmen Nicolas Anelka and Antoine Sibierski and Chinese international Sun Jihai gave Manchester City its emphatic victory at Charlton Athletic.

South African defender Mark Fish was sent off in the second half for Charlton, which was without new Italian signing Paolo Di Canio because he is not yet match fit.