American Exports: Kljestan, Anderlecht clinch Belgian title
AMSTERDAM — A second American champion has been crowned in the 2011-12 European season, with Sacha Kljestan's Anderlecht rallying at the death for a title-clinching 1-1 draw against derby guests Club Brugge.
The former Chivas USA man, who worked 74 minutes, was able to celebrate the first league title of his career when Guillaume Gillet buried the equalizing spot kick near time. For Anderlecht, it was their 31st Jupiler League championship.
Over in England's Premier League, Clint Dempsey bagged a picturesque free kick for his 50th Fulham goal to spark a 2-1 victory against Sunderland.
Midway through the opening frame, the US star notched found the top corner, the 10th time this season he has scored a game’s opening goal, running his EPL sum to 17 and total across all competitions to 23. Dempsey nearly made it a double later in the game, only to have his volley cleared off the line.
Tim Howard didn't need a single save to post his 12th clean sheet of the season in a 0-0 draw at Wolverhampton. The result extended the Toffees' road unbeaten streak to five games.
Aston Villa left back Eric Lichaj was solid as the hosts all but clinched EPL survival with a 1-1 draw against Brad Friedel and Tottenham. The Villans are now three points and a sizeable advantage in goal differential clear of the trap door with one game remaining, while Spurs nudged their advantage for the final Champions League berth to one point.
Tim Ream and Bolton suffered a late collapse at the back, blowing a two-goal lead to settle for a 2-2 home draw with West Bromwich Albion. The Baggies hit twice in the final 15 minutes to prevent Wanderers from climbing out of the drop zone.
Across the North Sea in the Eredivisie, Jozy Altidore assisted on the game’s only goal as AZ Alkmaar clinched a Europa League playoff-round place by topping FC Groningen 1-0.
The US striker, who departed in the 66th minute, ended up top scorer for the fourth-place finishers with 15 goals. But it was a strong drive into the area and centering feed for Erik Falkenburg in the 24th minute that helped give the Cheese Farmers all they needed on the day.
Turning to Italy, Michael Bradley watched from the dugout as Chievo Verona battled to a wild 4-4 share at Palermo. With a third straight draw, the Flying Donkeys held firm in 12th place.
Up north in Denmark, Brad Rusin went the distance in defense as HB Køge received their Superliga pink slip with a 3-1 home loss to AGF Aarhus. The American was robbed on a corner-kick header near halftime.
Clarence Goodson and Brøndby saw their road woes continue in a 1-0 defeat at Aalborg BK. The Lads from the Western Outskirts have won just once in their last 13 away.
In nearby Norway, second-half sub Josh Gatt helped Molde complete their comeback for a 2-1 win over Aalesund FK. The winger went close to scoring twice before picking up a yellow card in stoppage time.
Despite a strong outing in goal from Steve Clark, Hønefoss dropped their first match of the Tippeligaen season, 1-0 at Sandnes. The Michigan native registered nine saves as the visitors slipped to ninth through seven games.
Finally, in Portugal's second flight, Tony Taylor pitched in 69 minutes as Estoril secured the Liga de Honra crown and a place in the top flight next season with one game to spare, all thanks to a 1-0 win at Leixões.