AMSTERDAM – Several Americans laced up for English action on Saturday, with Tim Howard emerging victorious from a duel with US teammate Brad Guzan in Everton's 2-1 rally win over guests Aston Villa.
The Toffees man did not require a single save, but did benefit from twin strikes by the home side that flipped the result in the final 16 minutes. Guzan logged four saves, but suffered an off day with his distribution. The win put fifth-place Everton within a point of the last Champions League slot, while Villa stayed put in 10th.
Jozy Altidore worked a strong shift up top as Sunderland completed their first Premier League sweep of archrivals Newcastle since 1967 with a 3-0 away derby cruise in Saturday's early kickoff.
The US striker went the distance in his third straight league start, repeatedly providing ace hold-up play to help the visitors forward. On Sunderland's second goal, his no-look flick to set Jack Colback running free in the 23rd minute, a move finished after Adam Johnson bagged the rebound of the midfielder's shot.
However, Altidore came up empty when his best chance of the day arrived with about 12 minutes left on the clock. A gaffe at the back offered the No. 17 shirt an impromptu breakaway in the left channel, but he was unable to round Magpies netminder Tim Krul.
The Black Cats have won three of four to climb five points clear of the drop zone. Sunderland also extended their road unbeaten streak to six games to tentatively reach 12th place.
Elsewhere, Geoff Cameron did his best work in defense as Stoke City topped visiting champs Manchester United 2-1.
The former Houston Dynamo ace led the Potters with four tackles and added eight clearances. Eleventh-place Stoke posted their first victory over the Red Devils to snap a six-game win drought.
Clint Dempsey worked a quiet 25-minute shift as Fulham continued to slump with a 3-0 home loss to Southampton. Thanks to their fourth consecutive defeat, the Cottagers fell into the basement.
Also, Brad Friedel watched from the away dugout as sixth-place Tottenham settled for a 1-1 draw at Hull City.
One league below in the Championship, Daniel Williams opened his Reading account with the final strike in a 3-0 win at Millwall.
The defensive midfielder capped a fine outing by depositing his own blocked shot on the half-volley in the 75th minute. The Royals won for the fourth time in five games to move within nine points of an automatic promotion place.
Oguchi Onyewu helped Sheffield Wednesday pull six points clear of the danger zone with a last-gasp 1-0 win against Brek Shea's visiting Barnsley.
The Owls center back was commanding in defense until being removed in stoppage time, in addition to being robbed on a corner kick header near the hour mark. Shea, who drew a red card on Wednesday midfielder Jermaine Johnson with 10 minutes to play, managed to create just one good scoring chance for next-to-last Barnsley in a lukewarm right wing outing.
Birmingham City defender Will Packwood had a hot-and-cold day as Birmingham clawed back late for a 3-3 draw with guests Derby County.
The youngster's best moment came with a big saving block on the stroke of halftime. The Brums slipped a spot to 18th, while unused sub Zak Whitbread and Derby missed a chance to take third place.
Bolton wasted a solid left back effort from Tim Ream in a 1-0 loss at Ipswich Town.
The former Red Bulls defender was at his best in the first half, with an important block at one end and a string of crosses that deserved better finishes at the other. Despite losing for the third straight round, Wanderers remained clear of the bottom three.
Meanwhile, Duane Holmes went unused in Huddersfield Town's 5-1 humbling defeat at Leeds United.
In Eredivisie action, Aron Jóhannsson and AZ Alkmaar rose to sixth place with a 2-0 home win over Groningen. The forward was denied on his best chance out of four shots near intermission.
Over in the Bundesliga, Fabian Johnson was an unused sub as 10th-place Hoffenheim got well with a 3-0 win over Hamburg.