In pictures: Crowds return for opening Premier League Saturday

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August 15, 2021
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    Fred, Manchester United, Leeds United, goal, Old TraffordManchester United fans could not have wished for a better result in their opening game as the Red Devils beat old rivals Leeds 5-1

    After 19 months of empty seats and eerily quiet stadiums, capacity crowds returned in force on the first Saturday of the new Premier League season.

    Social distancing measures at sporting venues were lifted following the easing of Covid restrictions in England on 19 July.

    Brentford stunned Arsenal on a thunderous night in west London on Friday, and the atmosphere was no less buoyant around the grounds on Saturday.

    Speaking after his side's victory over Leeds at Old Trafford, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said the return of supporters "creates and sets the mood".

    "You get the butterflies again," added the Norwegian. "Suddenly it's a game that matters.

    "We felt extra responsibility because it's been so long without them. They mean so much to us. To have that love from the fans is so important."

    Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who found the net in Everton's comeback win against Southampton, said afterwards: "It's a great feeling to score with fans being back in the stadium. I felt like a kid again.

    "I scored a few last season but with no fans. That was a special one."

    Xisco Munoz, whose Watford side beat Aston Villa at Vicarage Road on their top-flight return, told BBC Sport: "Today was an amazing day, perfect because we met with our fans."

    Here's how supporters up and down the country celebrated their return.

    Manchester United, Leeds United, Premier League, Old Trafford fansOld Trafford was packed for the day's early kick-off between old rivals Manchester United and LeedsBruno Fernandes, Manchester United, Old TraffordThe stadium erupted when Bruno Fernandes broke the deadlock on the half-hour markTurf Moor, fans, Burnley, Brighton & Hove Albion, match programmeA Burnley fan immerses himself in the Clarets' matchday programme prior to the game against BrightonChelsea, Crystal Palace, fans, Stamford BridgeAt Stamford Bridge, Chelsea fans young and old were desperate to get their first glimpse of the 2020-21 Champions League winners, who took on Crystal PalaceChristian Pulisic, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Stamford BridgeChristian Pulisic helped ensure it was an enjoyable afternoon for the Blues faithfulEverton, Southampton, fans, Goodison ParkSupporters flocked to Goodison Park to see Everton host Southampton in Rafael Benitez's first Premier League game in charge of the ToffeesRafael Benitez, Everton, Southampton, Premier LeagueFormer Liverpool boss Benitez was pleased with his reception from the Everton faithfulLeicester City, Wolverhampton Wanderers, King Power Stadium, fans2020-21 FA Cup winners Leicester City hosted Wolverhampton Wanderers at King Power StadiumWatford, Aston Villa, Vicarage Road, fansAt Vicarage Road, Watford supporters watched the Hornets beat Aston Villa in their first game back in the Premier LeagueNorwich City, Liverpool, Carrow RoadNorwich City were handed a tough assignment in their first Premier League game of the campaign, welcoming 2019-20 champions Liverpool to Carrow RoadEverything you need to know about your Premier League team banner

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