RECAP: WEEKEND ENGLISH ACTION
Tim Howard and Everton won away at Marcus Hahnemann's Wolverhampton while Brad Friedel and Aston Villa won at home over Newcastle in a full weekend of English action.
Wolverhmapton 0 - 3 Everton
Marcus Hahnemann was on the bench as Everton outgunned their opposition at Molineux.
Despite the scoreline, Wolves started the brighter of the two with a flurry of attacks in the first 20 minutes. Everton withstood the onslaught and were able to get their first in the 21st minute through Jermaine Beckford.
Leon Osman was released down the right wing and his cross was nearly cut out by Wayne Hennessey but Beckford reacted quickest to nod in behind the keeper.
Hennessey made a fantastic save in the 32nd minute but there was nothing he could do about Phil Neville's 39th minute shot. Hennessey made the first save at full stretch but Neville picked up possession on the edge of the area and his shot deflected into the upper corner.
The rout was complete with just 30 seconds left on the clock when Wolves wastefully gave away possession in the midfield. Diniyar Bilyaletdinov made no mistake, dribbling straight to the top of the 18 yard box before smashing home Everton's third.
Howard was called into action in the second half, making two crucial saves. Wolves tried their luck from long range but Howard was equal to the task as the keeper also came up big on a 61st minute corner kick with a point blank save.
Bilyaletdinov was the only player booked in the outing as Everton next face Blackburn while Wolves take on Fulham.
Blackburn 1 - 1 Birmingham
Jermiane Jones and Blackburn fought back to earn a share of the spoils at home versus Birmingham.
Jones lost the initial header that led to the Birmingham opener. Cameron Jerome received the ball after a cross from out wide, and the striker chipped it up over Paul Robinson for Lee Bowyer to nod home from point blank range.
Replays showed Bowyer was fortunate to not be called offsides as he was ahead of the ball before Jerome crossed it. Birmingham almost went two up when Sebastian Larsson's brilliant free kick left Robinson flat-footed but the shot deflected off the post and out.
Blackburn then got their goal courtesy of a solo effort by Junior Hoillet. The front man stripped Liam Ridgewell of possession before going straight to goal, rounding Ben Foster and slotting home for the gaol. Roque Santa Cruz thought he had won it for Rovers but his late header hit the crossbar and went over.
Martin Olsson joined Jones in the book for Blackburn while Stephen Carr, Craig Gardner, and Larsson were all booked for Bimringham City. Up next for Blackburn is an away trip to Everton.
Manchester United 2 - 0 Fulham
Clint Dempsey and Fulham were unable to keep Manchester United at bay as the EPL leaders got a home win.
Manchester United started with Dimitar Berbatov up front all alone on Saturday and the move paid off just 12 minutes in. Luis Nani showed quick footwork to juke around the Fulham defense before playing a quick one-two with Anderson. The winger then released his pass to Berbatov who quickly dispatched his shot from inside the 18.
There was a hint of offsides on the first goal but nothing could be done about the second in the 32nd minute. The tandem of Patrice Evra and Nani terrorized the left side of the field for United and the defender sent the winger through with a long ball forward.
Nani rounded Mark Schwarzer before going to goal, with his shot deflecting to Antonio Valencia who nodded home from a yard out.
Dempsey's only look at goal on the day came when Tomasz Kuszczak dropped a routine catch, but the American was not quick enough to react as the goalkeeper eventually got everything under control. No cards were issued as Fulham next travels to Wolves on Saturday.
Aston Villa 1 - 0 Newcastle
Brad Friedel was only called on momentarily as Aston Villa outhustled Newcastle for a home win.
It was a full blooded affair but one moment decided the game. Joey Barton gave up a soft free kick on Ashley Young as the English midfielder continued to fight with the referee over every call. Young's resulting free kick flew into the box and James Collins' glancing header went past Steve Harper in the 24th minute.
Friedel was forced to make a few key saves in the second half but nothing seemed to trouble the timeless goalkeeper as he made them with ease. Carlos Cuellar and Stiliyan Petrov were booked for Vilal while Barton joined Mike Williams in the book.
Michael Bradley did not make the bench for Villa. Up next for Villa is a trip to West Ham as the Villans look to continue forward momentum in the final run in.
Norwich City 0-3 Swansea City
Zak Whitbread and Norwich City went down to fellow playoff rivals Swansea City in Championship action this weekend.
Whitbread started and went the distance for the Canaries.
Fabio Borini opened the scoring for Swansea in the fifth minute with an impressive free-kick.
In the 29th minute, Swansea struck again when Mark Gower smashed a shot from 20 yards out to put the Canaries into an early hole.
Tamas Priskin then won a ball from Norwich goalie John Ruddy and found the back of the net, giving Swansea the comfortable victory.
Norwich still controls the second sport in the standings, but Cardiff and Swansea now loom only one point away with six games left in the season.
Elliott Ward and Marc Tierney were the only bookings of the game for the Canaries.
Hull City 2-1 Watford
Brad Guzan and Hull City took down Watford in Championship play.
Guzan started and went the distance for the Tigers.
Liam Rosenior crossed for Evans to prod past Scott Loach for his second goal in Hull colors.
Danny Graham impressed with a heavy shot that Guzan tipped over the bar, preserving Hull's lead in the first half.
Robert Koren then doubled Hull's lead in stoppage time when he finished a Tom Cairney' cross.
Martin Taylor was able to quickly put Watford back with a goal only seconds later, but it proved too late.
The Tigers hang out to slim playoff hopes and hope to keep their momentum going for the rest of the season. Watford looks to get back to winning ways and also keep their waning playoff hopes alive.
Andreas Weimann received a yellow for Watford while Anthony Gerrard, Aaron Mclean, and Richard Garcia were booked for City.
Leeds United 2-3 Millwall
Eric Lichaj and Leeds United lost to Millwall in Championship action this weekend.
Lichaj started and went the distance for United at left back.
James Henry, opened the scoring for Millwall in the 24th minute when he rocketed home an impressive free-kick.
In the 30th minute, Liam Trotter was able to tap in an Andros Townsend corner, giving Millwall the early big lead.
Early in the second half, Leeds was able to strike back when Luciano Becchio finished a Bradley Johnson cross.
Steve Morison then gave the Lions an insurmountable lead, after he pounced onto a rebound and beat Leeds goalie Kaspar Schmeichel to the ball.
Andrew O'Brien was able to get one back for Leeds in stoppage time after he finished a Lichaj throw in, but it was too late for United.
Jack Smith received a yellow for Millwall while Robert Snodgrass was booked for Leeds.
United hold onto a four point lead from Millwall for the last playoff spot with only a few games remaining in the season.
Preston North End 1-1 Portsmouth
Eddie Johnson and Preston North End tied Portsmouth in weekend Championship play.
Johnson started and played 76 minutes for North End. The American forward also was credited with an assist in Preston's lone goal of the game.
The on-loan Fulham forward almost opened the scoring straight out of the gates, but he was wide from 15 yards out.
In the 32nd minute, Johnson's pass broke Portsmouth's offside trap and found Iain Hume who cleanly finished the opening goal of the game for Preston.
Hayden Mullin then found Greg Halford whose header beat North End goalie Iain Turner in the 62nd minute.
Preston now are seven points from safety with six games left in the season.
Ritchie De Laet was booked for Portsmouth while Barry Nicholson and Darren Carter received yellow cards for Preston.
Carlisle United 2-3 Milton Keynes Dons
Frank Simek and Carlisle United lost to Milton Keynes Dons in weekend League One action.
Simek started and went the distance for the Cumbrians.
In the 13th minute, MK Dons opened the scoring when Daniel Powell finished Keanu Marsh-Brown cross.
Liam Noble struck back for Carlisle in the 28th minute with a shot from 20 yards out that beat goalie David Martin.
The Cumbrians went ahead in the 69th minute after Francois Zoko was taken down in the box and James Berrett coolly converted his penalty kick.
The 81st minute though saw MK Dons equalize when Peter Leven's free-kick found Angelo Balanta who headed passed Martin.
The Dons came up big late in the game when Adam Clayton finished a Dean Lewington cross in stoppage time.
Stephen Gleeson was booked for the Dons while Matty Robson, Peter Murphy, and Simek received yellow cards for the Cumbrians.
Wycombe Wanderers 2-2 Oxford United
Jon-Paul Pittman and the Wycombe Wanderers tied against Oxford United in League Two play.
Pittman came on in the 36th minute to replace Stuart Beavon. The American forward scored the leveler for Wycombe.
Simon Heslop found Alfie Potter who shot from the edge of the box to open the scoring for Oxford in the 34th minute.
Dave Winfield then recorded an own goal in the 54th minute, putting Wycombe in a two goal hole.
Scott Rendell though headed home impressively in the 62nd minute for the Chairboys.
Just minutes later Pittman scored on a volley to complete equalize the game for Wycombe.
Harry Worley, Jake Wright, and Simon Heslop received yellow cards for Oxford while Lewis Montrose was the only booking for Wycombe.
Jonathan Spector played out the final minutes in West Ham's 3-0 loss at Stuart Holden's Bolton.
Mike Grella did not feature in Swindon Town's win over Brentford.
Anton Peterlin was left on the bench in Plymouth's win over Walsall.