City beat Birmingham, Liverpool rebound
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Owen Hargreaves made a dream debut for Manchester City as the injury-plagued midfielder scored the opening goal in his side's 2-0 victory over holders Birmingham City in the League Cup third round on Wednesday.

Hargreaves was making his first appearance for City after being released by their bitter rivals Manchester United at the end of last season following a series of knee injuries over the last three years.

The 30-year-old, who had managed just six minutes of action since September 2008, took just 17 minutes to mark his return in style as he smashed a fine long-range strike past Birmingham goalkeeper Colin Doyle for his first goal since April 2008.

He eventually completed 57 minutes before departing to a standing ovation from the City fans after being substituted to avoid provoking any muscle problems in his first prolonged outing for three years.

Birmingham's last match in this competition was a memorable 2-1 win over Arsenal in the final at Wembley, but much has changed at St Andrews' since then and the Blues are now languishing in the Championship after relegation on the final day of last season.

They were no match for City and Mario Balotelli increased the hosts' advantage with his first goal of the season, a powerful effort from inside the penalty area, in the 38th minute.

Liverpool bounce back
At the Amex Stadium, Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard made a 15-minute appearance as a substitute in the closing stages of his side's 2-1 win at Championship club Brighton. Gerrard was back in action for the first time since March after surgery on a recurring groin injury and his presence helped Liverpool finish off Gus Poyet's Brighton.

Kenny Dalglish made seven charges to the side that started Sunday's 4-0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur, with recent signings Sebastian Coates and Craig Bellamy both handed their first starts. Bellamy, in his second spell at the club, opened the scoring in the seventh minute as he ran onto Luis Suarez's pass and drilled a low shot into the far corner.

Brighton's Craig Noone once did building work at Gerrard's house -- fitting a roof onto the England star's games-room during his days as a non-league player -- and the boyhood Liverpool fan showed he had the tools to compete with the Reds as he fired a long-range shot against the bar.

But Dutch forward Dirk Kuyt got the decisive second goal in the 81st minute when he struck with a low shot via the far post. Ashley Barnes notched a 90th-minute consolation for Brighton when he converted a penalty after Jamie Carragher's foul on Vicente.

Chelsea labour past Fulham
Ten-man Chelsea won 4-3 on penalties against west London rivals Fulham after a 0-0 draw after extra time at Stamford Bridge.

Andre Villas-Boas's side had Brazilian defender Alex sent off early in the second half and saw Fulham's Pajtim Kasami miss the resulting penalty. The Blues rode their luck in the shoot-out as well as Frank Lampard missed their first kick before Fulham's Moussa Dembele and Bryan Ruiz failed from the spot to send Chelsea through.

Villas-Boas had made nine changes from the team beaten 3-1 by Manchester United at Old Trafford as the Portuguese coach gave full debuts to Romelu Lukaku, Oriol Romeu and Ryan Bertrand, with Josh McEachran and Paulo Ferreira making their first appearances of the season.

Everton needed extra-time to see off West Bromwich Albion 2-1 at Goodison Park. Chris Brunt's 57th minute penalty gave Albion the lead, but Marouane Fellaini equalised in the 89th minute and Phil Neville got the winner in the 103rd minute.