American Exports: Heartbreak for Brad Guzan, Aston Villa; Juan Agudelo goes the distance
AMSTERDAM – Brad Guzan and Aston Villa went down the hard way on Sunday afternoon, losing 1-0 thanks to a stoppage-time winner by home side Newcastle.
The US netminder rang up four saves, including top stops on Loïc Rémy in the second and 81st minutes of play. However, the Magpies striker got his revenge in the second minute of added time, outworking two defenders to drive home the dagger. Now winless in four EPL games, Villa dipped a place to 13th.
Across the North Sea in Eredivisie action, Juan Agudelo went from whistle to whistle as FC Utrecht scored a sorely needed 1-0 home victory against Groningen.
The forward was unable to get any of his four shots on target, including a nice chance to win the game in the 85th minute, but did lead all players with five tackles on the day. Agudelo also went into the book for the first time as an Utrecht player shortly after the hour.
Having already agonized over a Steve De Ridder penalty miss just out of intermission, the hosts were finally able to snap an eight-game winless slide in league play with a 20-yard blast from late midfield sub Johan Martensson. The victory, Utrecht's first at home since December 6, lifted them two rungs to 13th place.
Elsewhere, Aron Jóhannsson was mostly an innocent bystander as AZ Alkmaar got rolled over 4-0 at Ajax.
The World Cup hopeful did about all he could in the hold-up game, but never found an opportunity to shoot as the defending champs cruised to their first win in the last five overall home meetings with against the Kaasboeren. The teams will collide again a month from now in Alkmaar for a place in the KNVB Cup final, but for now, seventh-place AZ saw their league win drought stretched to three games.
Over in Ligue 1, Alejandro Bedoya came on for the final 11 minutes of Nantes' 3-0 derby loss to rude guests Rennes. The US midfielder was clean with his limited touches as the early-season darlings fell to 13th place by remaining winless in six, their worst run of the term to date.
Finally, back in England's Premier League, Brad Friedel returned to backup duty as Tottenham lost Champions League ground with a 1-0 defeat at Norwich City. Spurs floated six points adrift of the all-important fourth place by losing their first EPL road game since before Thanksgiving.