American Exports: Ream debuts in Bolton loss to Chelsea
AMSTERDAM — Welcome to the English Premier League, Tim Ream. The sometime US international made an encouraging EPL debut, but Bolton suffered a 3-0 defeat at Chelsea. The former New York Red Bulls defender had a fine opening period and was not culpable on second-half strikes from David Luiz, Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard. Bolton remain in the relegation zone after dropping a third consecutive league match.
Constant menace Clint Dempsey and Fulham turned road warriors to post a 1-0 derby win at Queens Park Rangers. Though both of his shots misfired, the US star was enough of a nuisance to win four free kicks on the day. Winning away for the first time since October, Fulham moved level on points with ninth-place Sunderland and Everton.
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan watched on as Aston Villa settled for a 0-0 draw at basement dwellers Wigan.
One league below in the Championship, Jonathan Spector and Birmingham City missed a shot at closing ground on the automatic promotion elevator with a 2-1 home loss to Nottingham Forest. The Illinois native was among his side's best on the day, repeatedly supplying danger with crosses. Nevertheless, the Brums slipped two spots to fifth by suffering their first loss at St. Andrews in 18 games. It was also Birmingham's first league defeat since before Christmas.
Meanwhile, a pair of clubs employing Americans climbed into the better half of the Bundesliga table through road wins on Saturday. Timothy Chandler contributed a solid right wing shift in FC Nürnberg's 1-0 win at Werder Bremen. The US international was more active in the second half, with a shot on goal and a pair of dangerous crosses to his credit after intermission. Not only did the result lift Der Club up to 10th, it gave them consecutive league victories for the first time since September.
Meanwhile, Fabian Johnson and Daniel Williams went the distance as Hoffenheim reached ninth place thanks to a late 2-1 win at Wolfsburg. Johnson managed a couple of threatening rushes from left back, with one midway through the first half resulting in great chance undone by poor finishing. Working from his usual defensive midfield spot, Williams picked up an "MLS second assist" on Hoffenheim's opener before drawing a yellow card that will see him miss their next game suspended.
Hertha Berlin's Alfredo Morales pitched in 22 minutes of relief at defensive midfield as the visitors were dipped into the drop zone by a 3-0 loss at Augsburg. Hertha have now dropped six straight Bundesliga matches and remain without a win in 12.
Per usual, David Yelldell served as backup netminder as Bayer Leverkusen scored a 2-0 win away to archrivals FC Cologne.
Heading to Belgium, Mikkel Diskerud started his second game for Gent in place of absent skipper Bernd Thijs, helping the home side to a 2-0 triumph over Mons with an assist on his team's winner. The Buffaloes snapped a two-game drought to move clear in third place and to within nine points of leaders Anderlecht.
Over in Israel's Ligat Ha'Al, Bryan Gerzicich and Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona snatched another a last-gasp 1-0 victory, this time over guests Bnei Yehuda Tel Aviv. Thanks to their eighth shutout in the last nine league games at home and a 90th-minute tally from sub Daviv Solari, Ironi Kiryat Shmona now have a 14-point penthouse cushion. Three matches remain until the championship title playoff, which Hapoel — now unbeaten in 25 league matches — could still render effectively meaningless before it starts.