Antonio gives West Ham Olympic cheer, Stuani lifts Boro

Antonio gives West Ham Olympic cheer, Stuani lifts Boro

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Sunderland’s English striker Jermain Defoe takes the ball past Middlesbrough’s US Goalkeeper Brad Guzan (L) during their English Premier League match in Sunderland, north-east England, Sunday. — AFP

LONDON — West Ham United’s Premier League bow at London’s former Olympic Stadium ended with a 1-0 win over Bournemouth Sunday courtesy of Michail Antonio’s 85th-minute header.

West Ham has moved into the arena, now known as the London Stadium, after leaving Upton Park and Antonio’s late goal made its first domestic fixture at the ground one to remember.

In the day’s other game, Cristhian Stuani netted a stunning brace as Middlesbrough beat local rival Sunderland 2-1 to register a first victory since securing promotion from the Championship.

West Ham beat Slovenian Europa League opponent NK Domzale 3-0 in their first match at their new home, but Slaven Bilic’s side was narrowly beaten 2-1 by Chelsea in their opening league fixture.

It procured the only chance of note in the first half against Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth, with visiting goalkeeper Artur Boruc obliged to parry at his near post from Enner Valencia.

Josh King threatened to spoil West Ham’s big day with a long-range strike early in the second half, drawing a full-stretch save from home goalkeeper Adrian.

Bournemouth lost midfielder Harry Arter after he was shown a second yellow card for holding back Cheikhou Kouyate, having earlier been booked for dissent.

West Ham exploited its numerical advantage with five minutes to play when Gokhan Tore lifted an inviting cross to the back post and Antonio flew in to head home from close range.

King had a late chance to snatch a point for Bournemouth with a smooth chest-and-volley, but Adrian denied him again.

Earlier, Uruguayan striker Stuani scored twice to earn Middlesbrough victory at Sunderland in the northeast rivals’ first top-flight encounter since January 2009.

Stuani put Aitor Karanka’s Boro ahead with a glorious 25-yard strike in the 13th minute at the Stadium of Light before finishing off a neat team move on the cusp of half-time.

Sunderland replied through Patrick van Aanholt in the 71st minute, but Boro, promoted from the Championship in May, prevailed to record their first top-flight win over the Black Cats in over 10 years.

Sunderland has not won a league game in August in six years and having lost 2-1 at Manchester City on the season’s opening day, it is still awaiting a first win under new manager David Moyes.

‘Chinese after Liverpool’

Premier League giant Liverpool is the target of an 800 million pounds ($1 billion, 924 million euros) takeover bid backed by the Chinese government, British newspaper the Sunday Times reported.

China Everbright, a state-backed financial firm, is leading the bid, backed by the country’s main sovereign wealth fund, the China Investment Corporation (CIC), the paper said.

Talks between the Chinese group and Liverpool’s American owners, the Fenway Sports Group (FSG), are ongoing, the Sunday Times said.

But a senior Liverpool source told AFP that although the club was open to outside investment, FSG was not in talks and the club was not the subject of a bid.

On Friday, Liverpool chairman Tom Werner said the club was “not for sale”, but admitted FSG was open to the idea of selling a stake.

FSG bought Liverpool for around 300 million pounds in 2010.

China has been making inroads in English football in recent months.

Earlier this month, Liverpool’s Premier League rival West Bromwich Albion announced a deal to sell the club to a Chinese investment group headed by entrepreneur Guochuan Lai.

Second-tier clubs Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers, both of whom play in the same Midlands region as West Brom, have both been taken over by Chinese investors. — Agencies

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