LONDON — Didier Drogba scored a hat trick to lead defending champion Chelsea to a 6-0 win over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday's opening day of the English Premier League season.
Florent Malouda put Chelsea ahead early before Drogba hit a free kick and a close-range finish to move into sixth place on Chelsea's list of career scoring leaders. Frank Lampard passed into the net before Drogba hit a deflected shot in at the near post and Malouda scored again in the last minute.
"It's a good start but there are difficult moments and they are coming," Drogba said.
But the big win gives Chelsea an early lift before last season's runner-up, Manchester United, kicks off against Newcastle on Monday. Arsenal is at Liverpool in Sunday's game.
Goalkeeper Joe Hart saved Manchester City as the big-spending Blues escaped with a 0-0 draw despite being dominated at Tottenham, while Blackpool returned to England's topflight for the first time since 1971 with a 4-0 win at Wigan.
Gary Taylor-Fletcher put the Tangerines ahead in the 16th and Marlon Harewood scored twice before halftime. Alex Baptiste then rounded off the scoring with 15 minutes left with a 30-yard shot.
Blackpool was temporarily atop the Premier League.
"I will take a photograph of the table and then retire," Blackpool manager Ian Holloway said.
Also Saturday, Aston Villa beat West Ham 3-0 with Brad Guzan in goal for the Villans, Blackburn beat Everton 1-0 with Tim Howard in goal of the Toffees and Wolverhampton Wanderers beat Stoke 2-1 with Marcus Hahnemann in goal for the winners. Sunderland lost Lee Cattermole to a 44th-minute red card but held on for a 2-2 draw with Birmingham, and Mark Hughes guided Fulham to a 0-0 draw at Bolton in his first game as manager. Clint Dempsey replaced Zoltan Gera in the 75th minute for the Cottagers.
Malouda tapped in against newly promoted West Brom in the sixth minute when goalkeeper Scott Carson dropped the ball. Drogba's 45th-minute free kick put him level with Jimmy Greaves in Chelsea's all-time scorers list and his close-range finish 10 minutes later put him ahead of the former England striker.
Lampard scored from about 12 yards and moved to 134 club goals when his shot from the edge of the area deflected off a defender. Drogba was substituted moments later and Malouda completed the rout in the last minute with a calm shot from Nicolas Anelka's pass over the defense.
Drogba scored 29 goals last season as Chelsea edged Manchester United for the title by a single point.
Of Chelsea's current squad, only Frank Lampard, in third place, has scored more goals than Drogba. The Ivory Coast striker is also the only non English player in Chelsea's top 10.
"I said last season I wanted to score goals and make history," Drogba said. "I don't want to stop here. I want to carry on and put my name higher."
Manchester City has spent more than $156 million on players since Tottenham edged it to fourth place and a Champions League qualifying berth last season. But none of its newcomers made an impact at White Hart Lane and young goalkeeper Joe Hart won the man-of-the-match award for a string of saves.
"The young kid had a great day today," Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said. "I thought it was a great performance from us. We were fantastic but we just couldn't get the two extra points.
"But if we play like this all season we will be right up there."
England midfielder James Milner is close to joining City but started for Villa against visiting West Ham and scored his team's third goal. Stewart Downing and Stiliyan Petrov put Villa 2-0 ahead before Milner's low shot from the edge of the area in the 66th.
Villa had American defender Eric Lichaj among its replacements but kept him on the bench to leave the Illinois native waiting for his Premier League debut.
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson had predicted Everton could finish in the top four this season, but the Toffees lost to a 14th-minute goal by Nikola Kalinic at Blackburn.
Also Saturday, Sunderland lost Lee Cattermole to a 44th-minute red card but held on for a 2-2 draw with Birmingham, and Mark Hughes guided Fulham to a 0-0 draw at Bolton in his first game as manager.
American midfielder Stuart Holden hit the post in the 78th minute for Bolton, the closest either team came to a goal.
Arsenal is at Liverpool in Sunday's match.
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – Michael Bradley, son of U.S. coach Bob Bradley, scored the opening goal in the 38th minute to lead Borussia Moenchengladbach over Erzgebirge Aue in the first round of the Germany Cup.
Mohamadou Idrissou and Marco Reus also scored for visiting Moenchengladbach.
Bayer Leverkusen hammered fifth-tier Pirmasens 11-1 to advance to the second round. Patrick Helmes scored three goals and Stefan Kiessling and Eren Derdiyok added two each for Leverkusen, who was without Michael Ballack, who is still recovering from an ankle injury.
Werder Bremen beat third-division Rot Weiss Ahlen 4-0 and Cacau scored two goals for Stuttgart to edge third-division Babelsberg 2-1 in other games on Saturday.
But newly promoted Bundesliga side St. Pauli lost 1-0 at fourth-division Chemnitz.
GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) – Rangers opened their defense of the Scottish Premier League title with a 2-1 win over visiting Kilmarnock.
Kenny Miller and Steven Naismith put Rangers 2-0 ahead by the 57th minute with a close-range rebound and an angled shot into the bottom corner, but Jamie Hamill pulled a goal back for Kilmarnock from the penalty spot. Maurice Edu played the entire game for Rangers.
Celtic opened with a 1-0 win at Inverness, with Paddy McCourt scoring the only goal in the 56th.
Paul Hartley's hat trick led Aberdeen to a 4-0 win over Hamilton and the biggest win of the day, while Hearts drew 1-1 with St. Johnstone, and Dundee United drew 1-1 at St. Mirren.
SEVILLE, Spain (AP) – Sevilla came from a goal down to beat an under-strength Barcelona 3-1 in the first leg of the Spanish Supercup.
Defending champion Barcelona will host the return leg next Saturday between the league winner and Copa del Rey champion.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic put Barcelona ahead in the 21st minute when he stretched to tap in Maxwell's long through pass from 5 yards.
Luis Fabiano tied it in the 63rd, striking Luca Cigarini's pass past goalkeeper Ruben Mino, substitute Frederic Kanoute converted Alvaro Negredo's pass in the 73rd and Kaunoute scored on a header 10 minutes later.
Barcelona didn't dress its eight Spanish national team players and didn't start Lionel Messi, who replaced Ibrahimovic in the 53rd.
PARIS (AP) – Defending champion Marseille dropped to 0-2 in the French league, losing 3-2 loss at Valenciennes.
Gael Danic put Valenciennes ahead with a close-range shot in the 47th minute, and Gregory Pujol scored in the 53rd and 62nd minutes. Taye Taiwo converted a penalty kick in the 82nd for Marseille, and Andre Ayew scored in the 85th.
Rennes beat Nancy 3-0 and tops the standings with four points after two games.
In other games, it was: Brest 1, Auxerre 1; Lorient 1, Nice 2; Saint-Etienne 3, Sochaux 2; Arles-Avignon 0, Lens 1. The match between Monaco and Montpellier was postponed because of heavy rains that damaged the field. Saint-Etienne didn't dress U.S. captain Carlos Bocanegra, who made his debut for the club last weekend.