AMSTERDAM — White-hot Clint Dempsey bagged the headlines and made history on Saturday, firing the first-ever Premier League hat trick by an American and his second in January to count for the difference in a 5-2 Fulham victory over guests Newcastle.
Shortly after Danny Murphy cancelled a halftime deficit, the US attacker beat the hour mark to put Fulham ahead to stay by chesting in a rebound from close range. Dempsey then lashed home a Bobby Zamora slip pass four minutes later and burst up the gut to finish a breakaway from nearly the same spot a minute from time.
The Texas native now has a career-high 15 goals across all competitions this season, including 10 in Fulham's last 11 games. The Cottagers climbed three spots in the table to 12th with the win.
In other EPL action, Tim Howard's failure to handle a cross led to Blackburn’s 72nd-minute equalizer as Everton settled for a 1-1 home draw.
Landon Donovan worked a solid shift for the Toffees, winning a pair of dangerous free kicks and contributing to their 24th-minute opener. The LA Galaxy loan star chipped in a cross for Maroane Fellaini, whose shot was saved and the rebound deposited by Tim Cahill.
Zak Whitbread was among the standout performers as Norwich City held visiting Chelsea to a 0-0 draw. Still unbeaten in 2012, the Canaries remained in ninth place.
Also, Brad Guzan served as backup goalkeeper for Aston Villa's 3-2 comeback victory at derby rivals Wolverhampton.
Across town, Jonathan Spector ably went the distance at right back as Birmingham City moved to sixth in the Championship with a 3-0 win against Watford.
Next door in Scotland, Rangers midfielder Maurice Edu rescued a 1-1 home draw against Aberdeen with a deflected strike from 20 yards midway through the second half.
The US midfielder nearly capped a fine showing with the winner 10 minutes from time, only to have his attempt flash just wide. With Alejandro Bedoya watching on from the dugout, Rangers center back Carlos Bocanegra was then denied the go-ahead goal in stoppage time.
Over in the Bundesliga, Steve Cherundolo was back in the line-up as visiting Hannover 96 held Hoffenheim to a scoreless draw.
Daniel Williams cleanly worked all 90 minutes in central defense for the absence-hit hosts, while Fabian Johnson supplied a lively 24 minutes on the wing. Debut-seeker Joseph Gyau, however, did not see action his first time dressing for Hoffenheim.
Heading to Belgium, Sacha Kljestan and league leaders Anderlecht stayed clear at the top with a 1-0 win at Kortrijk. The former Chivas USA midfielder made a vital saving tackle in his own area with 10 minutes remaining.