American Exports: Aron Johannsson's hat trick highlights busy day of cup action
AMSTERDAM – It was a busy Wednesday of cup action for Americans playing in Europe, highlighted by Aron Jóhannsson's decisive hat trick in AZ Alkmaar's 4-1 KNVB Cup win over guests Sparta Rotterdam.
Just five minutes in, the forward opened scoring by burying a Roy Beerens flick-on. Jóhannsson conjured a handful of chances to add to his tally after the visitors pulled level, but the game remained tied into extra time.
Three minutes into the first overtime session, Jóhannsson put AZ ahead to stay with a fine header. Just as the first 15-minute period came to a close, the No. 20 shirt rounded out his fine outing by tapping home a Joey Gudmundsson cross.
The night's haul brought Jóhannsson's total across all competitions this term to nine in 12 games. He's also moved into a tie atop the KNVB Cup scoring chart, which was topped last year by US teammate Jozy Altidore.
Over in England's Capital One Cup, Jonathan Spector came up aces in a three-man backline as Birmingham City stunned Premier League visitors Swansea City in a 3-0 rout.
The 27-year-old was repeatedly tested by Swans summer signing Wilfried Bony, passing on each occasion. The Brums have now won nine straight matches at St. Andrews in this tournament, a string dating back to 2007.
Birmingham advance to face Geoff Cameron's Stoke City, who reached the sweet 16 with a 2-0 victory at Tranmere. The right back, who worked a full shift, flashed a shot just wide of goal shortly after intermission.
Heading to Germany, Jermaine Jones went the distance as Schalke moved on to the last 16 with a 3-1 triumph away to mites Darmstadt. The Miners will learn their third-round opponent during Sunday's draw, which will be conducted by Germany boss Joachim Löw.
Meanwhile, Afredo Morales came on for the final 24 minutes to help Ingolstadt seal their place in the next round with a 2-0 win at FSV Frankfurt.
Across the border in Denmark's DBU-Pokalen, Conor O'Brien went 63 minutes in midfield as Odense BK scored a 2-0 win at third-flight FC Svendborg. Five times the cup champions, OB will not find out their fourth-round opponent until after the round of 32 concludes on September 10.
Finally, Mikkel Diskerud pitched in with a strong 90-minute outing as Rosenborg booked their place in the NM Cupen final with a 2-1 defeat of visiting FK Haugesund. The Troll Kids, who are in search of their 10th cup success, will now face the winner of Thursday's clash between Lillestrøm and Molde FK for the title on November 24.