AMSTERDAM – Tim Howard and Everton continued their roll on Sunday, blanking guests Arsenal 3-0 and continuing to assert themselves as a force in the race for a Champions League berth.
Howard made fives saves to run his Premier League win streak to six games, his longest since he was a Manchester United player back in 2004. The US No. 1 was at his best to shove a tricky Lukas Podolski bouncer over shortly before intermission, and then to coax Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's 85th-minute laser onto the bar.
Also aided by a close offside flag near time, Howard ended up with his 12th clean sheet of the season, good for third on the EPL chart. The New Jersey native is now 12-1-3 at Goodison Park on the campaign, with wins in six straight and eight of nine there. More important, the Toffees pulled to within a point of fourth-place Arsenal, against whom they hold a game in hand.
To the north in Norway, Bob Bradley's Stabæk stand on the summit as the only perfect Tippeligaen side through two rounds following a 2-1 victory at Brann.
Michael Stephens worked 72 minutes in midfield, though with a bit less an impact than his debut the previous week. With Bradley at the helm, the Blue Ones have opened a season with consecutive wins for the first time in the club's 18 top-flight campaigns.
Across the North Sea in the Eredivisie, Aron Jóhannsson ended a six-game goal drought across all competitions, but eventually spurned a golden chance at a stoppage-time winner in AZ Alkmaar's 2-2 draw at Roda JC.
It was a hot-and-cold afternoon for the US forward, who had limited touches with the home side dominating possession. After setting up Markus Henriksen for the first equalizer of the game near halftime, Jóhannsson nodded home from close range to give AZ a temporary lead just before the hour mark.
The goal was his 17th in league play this season, tying him with boss Earnie Stewart for the second-highest total ever by an American in the Dutch top division behind the 23 bagged by former teammate Jozy Altidore last year.
However, when presented with a tasty rebound two minutes into added time, the American scooped his shot over from 14 yards. Unbeaten in three, the Cheese Farmers held on to seventh place in the table.
Elsewhere, Juan Agudelo came on at halftime as 10-man FC Utrecht suffered a 4-1 Eredivisie loss at nearby rivals ADO Den Haag.
The youngster entered with his team already shorthanded and trailing by two to find rough going up top alone. Agudelo did come upon one good chance, but nodded over in the 72nd minute. Now winless in eight on the road, Utrecht remained five points above the danger line.
Crossing the border to Bundesliga territory, Fabian Johnson had a solid outing as Hoffenheim battled to a 1-1 draw away to John Anthony Brooks and Hertha Berlin.
The Hoffenheim right back did plenty of leg work in the build-up play and even more to post four tackles. Brooks departed in a tactical switch just past the hour, having put in a lukewarm shift highlighted by six clearances and his first yellow card in nearly two full seasons as a Hertha pro.
The result kept Hoffenheim undefeated in four and ahead of Brooks & Co. in ninth place by goal differential.
Next door in France, Alejandro Bedoya fired in a late consolation goal as Nantes dropped a 3-1 decision at Monaco.
It was a positive display by the playmaker, who was robbed of an equalizer with the visitors down one in the 64th minute. Two Monaco insurance strikes later, Bedoya buried a strong header for his fourth Ligue 1 goal of the season and first in precisely four months. Suffering their first loss in five, the Canaries dropped two rungs to 15th place.
In neighboring Belgium, Sacha Kljestan came on for the final quarter-hour to help Jupiler League defending champs Anderlecht cut their title deficit to five points with a 3-0 derby rout of visiting Club Brugge.
Still in fourth through two rounds of the country's championship hexagonal playoff, the Mauves extended their home win streak to eight and their shutout run at the Constant Vanden Stock to an impressive 672 minutes.