AMSTERDAM — It was a very successful Saturday for most American exports, headlined by Oguchi Onyewu's winner in Sporting CP's 1-0 victory over Nacional.
The US defender was the quickest to a deflected 22nd-minute free kick, nodding home at the far post to give the Lions all the offense they needed to win at home for the ninth-straight game, spanning all competitions. The victory kept third-place Sporting within four points of the Liga ZON Sagres penthouse.
Turning focus to England, injury stand-in Brad Guzan notched six saves to win his first career Premier League start for Aston Villa, a 2-1 decision at Bolton.
The former Chivas USA backstop, who got away with spilling a first-half free kick, is now unbeaten in his last 13 starts for the Villans across all competitions. Guzan's best stops of the afternoon denied Kevin Davies and Chris Eagles on either side of intermission.
Clint Dempsey was not among those celebrating Saturday, however, after his muffed penalty kick helped doom Fulham to a 2-0 defeat at Swansea City.
The hosts had already scored their opener with a Scott Sinclair shot that deflected in off the Texan when he stepped to the spot with a chance to level matters three minutes from time. Swans' netminder Michel Vorm guessed right to save the attempt and end the Cottagers three-game unbeaten streak.
Everton netminder Tim Howard was foiled at Arsenal once again, with Robin van Persie's stunning volley 20 minutes from time accounting for the 1-0 home win. The US No. 1 made the only two saves of a dogged midfield battle with strong stops on Theo Walcott and Gervinho.
Zak Whitbread ran a bit hot-and-cold in his first start since August, but tasted EPL victory for the first time in a 4-2 win against visiting Newcastle.
Down one flight in the Championship, Jonathan Spector ably patrolled central park as Birmingham City snapped a three-game drought with a 2-1 win over Doncaster.
Elsewhere, Robbie Findley went unused as Nottingham Forest fell 1-0 at home to Crystal Palace, their fourth straight loss.
Up north in Scotland, Carlos Bocanegra returned from injury and saw his strong 90 minutes matched by Maurice Edu in Rangers' 2-0 victory at Hibernian. The US midfielder received and drew a yellow card on the day.
In Bundesliga action, Fabian Johnson notched a pair of assists to spark visiting Hoffenheim's 2-0 triumph at FC Nürnberg, who were reduced to 10 men by a first-half Timothy Chandler red card. A third US international, Daniel Williams, helped the victors close out the game with 24 relief minutes.
Moments after Johnson's 39th-minute cross from the left flank was deposited by Vedad Ibišević, Chandler was harshly shown the gate for a clumsy challenge on Sejad Salihović. Ten minutes after the break, Johnson again got forward from left wingback to tee up another goal by the former St. Louis University forward.
Steve Cherundolo watched from the home dugout as Hannover 96 held Bayer Leverkusen to a 0-0 stalemate.
Finally, Eredivisie action saw Jozy Altidore "assist" on an own-goal in AZ Alkmaar's 4-0 waltz through guests De Graafschap.
At the 54-minute mark, Superboeren defender Vito Wormgoor turned the US striker's header into his own net for the third AZ tally. With another strong full shift from Altidore, the Dutch leaders maintained their four-point throne cushion.