RECAP: WEEKEND ENGLISH ACTION
Six Americans graced the English Premier League this weekend, with Tim Howard preserving a draw for Everton with a late penalty save from Jermaine Defoe, in what could be a World Cup rehearsal.
West Ham United 0 - 4 Manchester United
Jonathan Spector played the full 90 minutes against his former team, but finished up on the wrong end of a goal-fest.
The Red Devils took the lead in the 46th minute of the first half with a great goal from Paul Scholes.
The ball was crossed in by Ryan Giggs from the left, and a headed clearance found Scholes, who controlled the ball on the edge of the penalty area, before hitting a half-volley into the top left corner from twenty yards, despite goalie Robert Green getting a hand to the shot.
The Hammers found themselves two goals down in the 61st minute when Darren Gibson hit a powerful shot just inside the right hand post. Giggs received the ball just inside the hosts' half and ran at the defense, cutting infield before squaring to the midfielder, who hit an unstoppable 22-yard screamer at waist height that was in the net before Green could even move.
The third goal came in the 71st minute and was scored by Antonio Valencia from three yards. Wayne Rooney received the ball on the edge of the penalty area, and passed to Oliveira Anderson inside the left of the area, who laid a beautiful cross to the far post for the winger to tap into the bottom-right corner.
Rooney rounded off the scoring in the 72nd minute with a goal from four yards into the bottom-left of the net. Scholes laid the ball into the path of Valencia out on the right wing, and he crossed from the right edge of the area, finding the England forward unmarked in the center of goal for an easy score.
The 17th-ranked West Ham travel next Saturday to ninth-place Birmingham City, who are unbeaten in six games.
Aston Villa 3 - 0 Hull City
Brad Friedel played the whole game and Brad Guzan watched from the bench as Villa easily beat their visitors. Jozy Altidore played the first 54 minutes for the Tigers before being substituted.
The home team took the lead in the 13th minute after poor Hull defending allowed an unmarked Richard Dunne to score from just to the right of the goal. James Milner received the ball in the middle of the visitors' half, looked up, and was able to calmly find the defender ten yards from goal, whose shot past Matt Duke hit the underside of the bar before nestling in the bottom-left of the net.
Milner scored the second goal in the 29th minute from a quickly taken throw-in after Duke had to rush off his line to clear an Ashley Young pass into touch. Gabriel Agbonlahor saw the keeper struggling to get back, and took a quick throw, which the England winger lobbed over the retreating goalie into the empty net from 25 yards, to bring his tally to five for the season.
The final goal came from a penalty in the 89th minute of the game, and was scored by John Carew. Young ran into the area, and was brought down by Duke, leaving the referee no alternative but to point to the spot.
Hull slipped to 16th in the standings, and will host 12th-ranked Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 - 1 Bolton Wanderers
Marcus Hahnemann was a 90-minute man as the hosts ended a nine game streak without a win. He also received a yellow-card for time-wasting as Bolton pushed for a late equalizer.
The Wolves took the lead in the third minute with a goal from defender Jody Craddock which looked blatantly offside. Andy O' Brien fouled Kevin Doyle 30 yards from goal down the right, and the free-kick from Nenad Milijas was headed on by Christophe Berra for Craddock who scored into the top-right corner from seven yards.
There was no question over the second goal for the home team, scored in the 64th minute by Milijas. He received the ball after a tussle 35 yards out and hit a fabulous shot with the outside of his left foot, which kept curling away from goalie Jussi Jaaskalainen, leaving him no chance as the ball flew into the top left corner.
It all looked easy for Wolves, although Hahnemann made good saves on at least two occasions from Bolton striker Ivan Klasnic.
Things changed in the 79th minute with a Johan Elmander goal from three yards. Hahnemann saved well from Klasnic, but the hosts failed to clear the resulting left-wing Matt Taylor corner, which was turned into the middle of the goal by the Swedish substitute.
Wolves faced a testing last ten minutes, but held on for the victory which took them to 18th in the standings, and only one point from safety. They face a difficult visit to fourth-ranked Tottenham Hotspur next Saturday.
Fulham 1 - 0 Sunderland
Clint Dempsey was restored to the starting lineup after being rested from midweek Europa Cup action, and played the full 90 minutes in Fulham's win over Sunderland, while Eddie Johnson watched from the stands.
The game's only goal came in the 7th minute from the head of Bobby Zamora from seven yards for his sixth of the season. Damien Duff ran to the bye line on the right wing, but finding himself blocked laid the ball back to John Pantsil, and his inch-perfect cross found the forward who nodded the ball into the bottom-right corner.
Fulham are currently eighth place, and face a difficult away game at 13th-ranked Burnley next Saturday.
Everton 2 - 2 Tottenham Hotspur
Tim Howard played for the whole 90 minutes, adding a heroic penalty save in the dying minutes as Everton came from two goals down to earn a draw with all of the goals coming in the second-half.
The red-hot Jermaine Defoe put the visitors ahead in the 47th minute with a side-footer from two yards for his 12th goal in 16 games this season. Aaron Lennon went to the right corner before crossing to the near post, where the forward squeezed the ball past Howard into the top corner.
Spurs were two up in the 59th minute with a headed goal from seven yards. A right-wing Niko Kranjcar corner found the defender in the middle of the goal, and he headed the ball beyond Howard into the bottom-left of the net.
Everton refused to quit, and got back into the game in the 78th minute with a goal from substitute Louis Saha. Young defender Seamus Coleman drove to the bye- line on the right edge of the penalty area, and squared a pass across the front of the goal where the forward met the ball six yards out at the near post, and lifted it over the diving Heurelho Gomes.
The equalizer came in the 86th minute from the head of midfielder Tim Cahill. Coleman's cross from the right eluded everyone, and was met to the left of the area by Leighton Baines, who took a shot which was going wide before Cahill stooped, and guided the ball into the bottom-right corner from five yards.
In the 92nd minute Tony Hibbert fouled Wilson Palacios in the area, and a penalty was awarded. Defoe tried to blast the ball straight down the middle of the goal, but Howard had obviously done his homework, and saved comfortably.
Injury-hit Everton are ranked 15th in the standings, and face the unenviable task of visiting league leaders Chelsea next Saturday.
Crewe Alexandra 0 - 0 Lincoln City
Eric Lichaj went the distance as Northampton preserved a shut-out against on-fire Alexandra who had scored in all of their previous six games, amassing fourteen goals in that run.
Lincoln Head Coach Steve Sutton made an interesting formation change, bringing in an extra defender, and moving Lichaj into a midfield role. The decision almost paid off in the 76th minute when the American got through one-on-one with goalie Steve Phillips, only to see his effort come off the keeper's legs.
Overall it was a dour game with few chances, but it gave City a valuable point in their fight against relegation. They are ranked 22nd in the standings, and next host leaders Rochdale on Saturday.
Jay Demerit could make a welcome return following eye surgery as Watford host Queens Park Rangers on Monday evening.
Frank Simek did not make the bench as Sheffield Wednesday lost 2-0 to visitors Reading.
Mike Grella was an unused substitute as Leeds United drew 2-2 with near neighbors Huddersfield Town.
Ian Joyce did not make the bench as Southend United lost 1-0 at Charlton Athletic.
Jemal Johnson was out injured as Milton Keynes Dons were held 2-2 at home by Yeovil Town.
Jon-Paul Pittman played the last 14 minutes as Wycombe Wanderers beat visitors Stockport County 2-1.
Injured Zak Whitbread could only watch as Millwall lost 3-0 at Hartlepool United.
Seb Harris did not suit up as Nothampton Town earned a hard fought draw at Cheltenham Town.