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Published : 08 Aug 2009 14:20:45
Premier League title hopefuls Liverpool ended a disappointing pre-season with a defeat, but Manchester City and a Frederic Piquionne-inspired Portsmouth earned wins on Saturday. Elsewhere, striker Darren Bent scored on his Sunderland debut, while Wigan and Aston Villa recorded victories. North West rivals Burnley and Blackburn both slumped to Scottish opponents, while Wolves and West Ham also suffered setbacks. Liverpool have experienced a pre-season to forget and they lost 2-1 to Atletico Madrid at Anfield in their final game before the new Premier League campaign. Sergio Aguero, who Reds boss Rafa Benitez opted not to sign in 2006 when offered the then Independiente player, and ex-Manchester United striker Diego Forlan gave Atletico a half-time advantage. Brazil midfielder Lucas Leiva grabbed a late consolation for Liverpool but it was not enough to avoid defeat ahead of travelling to Tottenham next weekend. Jamie Carragher was substituted for the Reds in the first half after sustaining an ankle injury, however, it is understood the change was only a precautionary measure. Ambitious Manchester City have also failed to impress in their preparations for the new term but they earned a 2-1 win over Celtic at Eastlands. Gareth Barry opened the scoring with his first goal since joining Mark Hughes' side, but Celtic hit back through Chris Killen. Former Bhoys player Craig Bellamy, though, scored a 53rd minute winner to boost his chances of a place in City's first team. Piquionne made a dream start to his Portsmouth career as the on-loan Lyon forward scored twice on his debut in a 2-0 win over SPL champions Rangers at Fratton Park. Bent marked his maiden appearance for Sunderland in style as the former Spurs player scored an equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Hearts, who had taken the lead through David Obua. Aston Villa defeated Fiorentina 1-0 thanks to an Emile Heskey header in the first half at Villa Park. Wigan recorded a 3-1 success over St Mirren as Jason Koumas put the Latics in front before Craig Dargo equalised in the first half. Hugo Rodallega then helped Roberto Martinez's troops regain the lead after the interval and defender Mario Melchiot wrapped up the win. Wolves lost 2-0 to Real Valladolid as Jose Martin and Haris Medunjanin scored for the Spanish side. Bolton and Birmingham were held to 0-0 draws against Hibernian and Sporting Gijon, respectively. West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola saw his side defeated by Napoli, a team the Italian represented for four years as a player, as Fabio Quagliarella scored the only goal of the game in the 78th minute. Burnley lost 1-0 at St Johnstone as an 83rd minute Paul Sheerin penalty ensured Clarets boss Owen Coyle suffered defeat against his former club. Blackburn lost 2-0 to Dundee United in an early kick-off as Andis Shala opened the scoring in the first half at Tannadice before Zurab Khizanishvili netted at the wrong end with 19 minutes remaining. Centre-backs Ryan Nelsen and Christopher Samba both limped off in the first 30 minutes to create further anxiety for Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce ahead of the visit of City next Saturday.