By Toby Davis
LONDON (Reuters) - Manchester City mined their rich resources to break Hull City's dogged resistance in a nervy 2-0 Premier League win on Saturday with their new Spanish striker Alvaro Negredo coming off the bench to prove his worth.
With memories of last weekend's defeat by another promoted outfit Cardiff still fresh, City again looked edgy in defence and lacked attacking inspiration before 20 million-pound forward Negredo found the net.
The Spaniard, who was brought on at halftime and later followed on to the pitch by more high-cost talent in Samir Nasri and James Milner, brought relief to the home fans in the Etihad Stadium with 25 minutes left when he clinically headed home.
Midfielder Yaya Toure put an undeserved gloss on the scoreline with a fantastic curling freekick from 20 metres in the 90th minute to give City six points from their opening three games, moving them up to second in the table.
West Ham United missed the chance to join Chelsea at the top on seven points after a Jermaine Pennant freekick gave Stoke City a 1-0 away win, while Norwich City beat Southampton 1-0 to record their first league victory of the season.
In the weekend's big matches, third-placed Liverpool take on Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday hoping to extend their perfect start to the season before Tottenham Hotspur, the only other top flight team with maximum points, visit rivals Arsenal.
Hatem Ben Arfa scored Newcastle United's first league goal of the season with a late rasping finish to give them a 1-0 win at home to Fulham, while Everton drew for the third straight game with a 0-0 stalemate at Cardiff City.
Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway was dancing on the touchline as the promoted club stylishly dismantled Sunderland 3-1 for their first win of the season.
Manchester City's performance suggests there are still creases to iron out for Manuel Pellegrini's side.
"We know you have to give 100 percent to win every match but I think today that we were more concentrated in defence than the last game against Cardiff," was the Chilean manager's assessment of their workmanlike display.
City would have hoped that their defensive shortcomings, ruthlessly exposed in a shock 3-2 loss against Cardiff last weekend, would have been alleviated by the return from injury of Matija Nastasic at centre back.
Yet the uncertainty at the heart of their defence, still shorn of injured captain Vincent Kompany's steadying influence, was exposed within seven minutes when Sone Aluko was allowed to run straight through the middle only to scuff his shot wide.
Negredo was brought off the bench for the third straight match at the break and, with City looking clean out of ideas, the Spaniard made amends for an early miss midway through the second half with his second goal in successive games.
The former Sevilla striker showed the penalty area instincts that persuaded City to add the frontman to their stellar squad in the close season when he got on the end of a fantastic cross from Pablo Zabaleta and headed down into the net.
Toure finished the game off with a similar finish to his effort against Newcastle in their opening match, curling the ball into the top corner, leaving the keeper stranded.
Newcastle were able to call on Yohan Cabaye for the first time since Arsenal's bid for the France midfielder, but it was his compatriot Ben Arfa who delivered their first three-point haul of the season with a typically emphatic finish.
The Frenchman, who so often flatters to deceive, cut inside and fired home in the 86th minute, to take his personal tally to three in three league games against Fulham.
Baby-faced striker Dwight Gayle was the hero for Palace as he completed his elevation from non-league to Premier League by winning and scoring a penalty to put the London club 2-1 up after Sunderland's John O'Shea was sent off for the foul.
Stuart O'Keefe's curler wrapped up the points in added time.
Norwich and Southampton both splashed the cash in the transfer window and it was a close-season signing who proved the difference, although not one of the marquee names on show.
Teenager Nathan Redmond, who joined Norwich from Birmingham City, scored the winner in the 68th with a driving run and low shot into the bottom corner of the net.
Stoke had won only twice away last season and West Ham were yet to concede a goal in their opening two league games of this campaign but Pennant's curling freekick settled the match for the visitors with eight minutes remaining at Upton Park.
The victory took Stoke up to fifth with six points.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez is still without a win after they drew a blank at Cardiff. The visitors had a penalty appeal waved away when Leighton Baines was brought down in the area and Kevin Mirallas missed two good chances.
(Reporting by Toby Davis; Editing by Ken Ferris)