AMSTERDAM – Aston Villa wasted a Man of the Match show from netminder Brad Guzan on Thursday, falling 1-0 on a last-minute strike by Boxing Day guests Crystal Palace.
The former Chivas USA star notched six saves, but fell just shy of his sixth clean sheet of the term when Eagles sub Dwight Gayle curled home a beauty in stoppage time. Guzan's top stop of the day came when he turned Barry Bannan's low drive onto the post near the hour mark. Despite losing for the fourth straight EPL match, Villa held onto 13th place.
Around the Premier League, Everton ace Tim Howard was shown a debatable red card for the penalty foul that served up a 1-0 decision to Jozy Altidore's visiting Sunderland.
In the 23rd minute, a shocking Leon Osman gaffe allowed Black Cats midfielder Ki Sung-Yeung to waltz in alone on Howard. While replays were showing that the South Korea playmaker went down with minimal, if any, contact from the Toffees 'keeper, he was busy burying the resultant spot kick past backup Joel Robles.
Altidore entered play in the 86th minute, eventually providing a pair of important corner-kick clearances in added time. Last-place Sunderland moved to within three points of the safety zone thanks to their first league win in seven, while Everton slipped to fifth as their 10-game unbeaten run came to an end.
Geoff Cameron put in an admirable emergency performance as nine-man Stoke City were battered 5-1 at Newcastle.
The Potters led early, but a pair of red cards inside four minutes near the break forced Cameron to switch from right back to the left side for most of the remainder. Newcastle leveled on the edge of halftime before blowing the game out in the second half. Despite their first defeat in five, Stoke remained in 10th place.
Also, Brad Friedel watched on as Tottenham settled for a 1-1 home share with West Bromwich Albion. Now winless in four EPL games at White Hart Lane, Spurs dropped two rungs to eighth.
Down a level in the Championship, Tim Ream was among the stars of the afternoon as Bolton scored a 1-0 victory at Barnsley.
In addition to registering an impressive 14 clearances to aid the shutout effort, the US center back drew two first-half saves at the other end, one with a restart header and one with a low rocket from distance. The win lifted Wanderers a spot to 17th place.
Elsewhere, Duane Holmes hopped off the bench to key Huddersfield Town's rally for a 1-1 home draw with Derby County, for whom injury returnee Zak Whitbread went unused.
Shortly after coming on in the 58th minute, the teen attacker narrowly dragged a shot past the post from a good position inside the box. Unbowed, Holmes continued driving the Terriers comeback until his flick-on set up Martin Paterson for the 86th-minute equalizer. Winless in four, Huddersfield stayed put in 14th.
Eric Lichaj worked a strong shift at left back as warming Nottingham Forest posted a 2-0 home triumph over third-place Queens Park Rangers.
The Chicago-area native found plenty of opportunities to help the team forward up the flank, while also leading all players with five tackles. Climbing to fifth, Forest extended their shutout streak to 394 minutes and their unbeaten run to five.
Finally, Daniel Williams went the distance as Reading fell 1-0 at Leicester City. Williams and the rest of the seventh-place Royals picked their game up after intermission, but were unable to stave off consecutive league defeats for the first time in over two years.