Drogba sets the pace

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PARIS, August 16- Ivory Coast captain and striker Didier Drogba began the new English Premiership season as he finished the last by scoring a hat-trick for Chelsea in a six-goal rout of West Bromwich Albion.
Retired Mali striker Frederic Kanoute emphasised how much he will be missed by the West African ‘Eagles’ with a brace as Sevilla took a two-goal lead over Barcelona after the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup.

ENGLAND

DIDIER DROGBA (Chelsea)

The Ivory Coast striker picked up where he left off last season by scoring a hat-trick in his side’s 6-0 win over West Brom at Stamford Bridge. Drogba had scored a treble in his last league game for the Blues and repeated the feat with a 45th-minute free kick and two typically lethal close-range finishes in the second half.

MICHAEL ESSIEN (Chelsea)

The Ghana midfielder made his first league appearance for the Blues since December after a serious knee injury. He gave a typically dynamic 90-minute display as Carlo Ancelotti’s champions destroyed West Brom to make the perfect start to their title defence.

JOHN OBI MIKEL (Chelsea)

The Nigeria midfielder shone in the holding role as his team crushed West Brom. Mikel looks to have a good chance to make the defensive midfield role his own after several years of inconsistent displays.

EMMANUEL EBOUE (Arsenal)

The versatile Ivory Coast international lined up on the right flank as Arsene Wenger’s team kicked off their campaign with a 1-1 draw at Liverpool. Eboue had been substituted by the time Jose Reina’s last-minute own goal rescued the Gunners.

KOLO and YAYA TOURE (Man City)

The Ivorian brothers both played 90 minutes for City in a 0-0 draw at Tottenham. Kolo was solid in central defence as City survived a first-half battering, while Yaya – making his debut after a move from Barcelona – gradually imposed himself as a defensive midfielder.

EMMANUEL ADEBAYOR (Man City)

The Togo striker got only seven minutes playing time as a late substitute in City’s draw at Tottenham. He was left on the bench as boss Roberto Mancini preferred Carlos Tevez as a lone striker.

STEVEN PIENAAR (Everton)

The South Africa midfielder was unable to prevent his team crashing to a surprise 1-0 defeat at Blackburn. Pienaar played 90 minutes, but David Moyes’ men couldn’t recover from a mistake by goalkeeper Tim Howard that presented Rovers with the only goal.

EL HADJI DIOUF (Blackburn)

The Senegal striker impressed boss Sam Allardyce with his committed effort as Rovers defeated Everton at Ewood Park. The former Liverpool star played 90 minutes and linked well with match-winner Nikola Kalinic.

FRANCE

MAMADOU NIANG (Marseille)

Senegal striker Niang was substituted in the second half of French champions Marseille’s 3-2 defeat at Valenciennes after squandering his team’s best chance of the first half. Just after the final whistle, it was confirmed that the 31-year-old would be sold to Turkish club Fenerbahce. He spent five years at Marseille, scoring 100 goals.

ANDRE AYEW (Marseille)

The Ghana winger, a six-million pound target of Birmingham in the summer, boosted his value with an impressive performance in an otherwise glum weekend for Marseille. He was fouled which allowed Nigerian international Taye Taiwo to convert an 81st-minute penalty. Ayew then grabbed his team’s second goal three minutes later with a fierce drive through a packed penalty area.

ISMAEL BANGOURA (Rennes)

The Guinean, a former Dinamo Kiev striker, scored his second goal in two games as his team beat Nancy 3-0 to go third in the standings.

SPAIN

FREDERIC KANOUTE (Sevilla)

The veteran former Mali striker stole the show from Argentine superstar Lionel Messi as his two goals helped Sevilla defeat Barcelona 3-1 in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup. Kanoute put his team 2-1 ahead in the 74th minute following a long ball from Negredo and added the third in the 83rd minute with a header from a cross.

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