LONDON // Blackpool lit up the opening day of the Premier League season with a 4-0 thrashing of Wigan Athletic to celebrate their long-awaited return to the top flight of English football in style. Blackpool, in the wilderness since 1971, stole top billing with new signing Marlon Harewood scoring twice in a dream away win. Aston Villa responded to this week's shock resignation of manager Martin O'Neill with a 3-0 win at home to West Ham United with winger James Milner, playing despite a looming move to Manchester City, scoring his side's third goal. Stewert Downing and Stilian Petrov scored the others.
Blackburn Rovers beat Everton 1-0 through Nikola Kalinic following a Tim Howard blunder and Wolverhampton Wanderers were also home winners, beating Stoke City 2-1. David Jones opened the scoring through a free-kick. Steven Fletcher headed home the second. Adoulaye Faye's second half header was a consolation. 10-man Birmingham City grabbed a later equaliser through Liam Ridgwell in a 2-2 draw at Sunderland. The hosts had gone 2-0 up through a Darren Bent penalty. The captain Lee Cattermole was sent off on the stroke of half-time for a second booking. Sunderland went 2-0 ahead through a Stephen Carr own-goal before Scott Dann and Ridgwell mounted a spirited comeback for Birmingham.
Bolton Wanderers and Fulham finished goalless at the Reebok Stadium. * Reuters