AMSTERDAM – Tottenham Hotspur ace Clint Dempsey became the first American to ring in the new year proper on Tuesday, scoring a 76th-minute insurance tally in a 3-1 English Premier League victory over guests Reading.
Four minutes after entering the fray, the US attacker's drive from distance looped over the 'keeper after taking a partial-deflection off Antigua and Barbuda international Mikele Leigertwood. The goal was Dempsey's fourth in league play this season and his first at White Hart Lane as a Tottenham player.
Brad Friedel went unused by Spurs, who climbed past Chelsea into third place in the EPL.
Aston Villa netminder Brad Guzan helped snap his side's losing streak, but continued to suffer as the visitors conceded deep into stoppage time to settle for a 2-2 share at Swansea City.
The former Chivas USA man notched four saves, including top-shelf denials of Michu and Pablo. Eric Lichaj watched from the dugout as the Swans pulled out a deserved draw thanks to Danny Graham's seeing-eye effort in the 94th minute.
Despite seeing their win drought stretched to four games, Villa jumped one rung to 16th place.
Geoff Cameron returned from suspension with a fair effort in Stoke City's 3-0 loss away to defending champs Manchester City. While most of City's best moves came away from his zone, the right back conspired to lose Edin Dzeko on the home side's second and his weak clearance precipitated the questionable penalty call on the capper. The Potters slipped to ninth in the table as their 10-game unbeaten run came to an end.
West Ham United midfield prospect Sebastian Lletget watched from the dugout as the hosts scored a 2-1 victory over visiting Norwich City. The Irons halted a four-game winless slide to reach 11th place.
One level below in the Championship, Tim Ream worked another solid shift as Bolton fell 1-0 at Leeds United. Sixteenth-place Wanderers have now won just once in their last nine road matches.
Birmingham City's Jonathan Spector went the distance in midfield, but right back Will Packwood left with a hamstring knock after 77 minutes in the Brums' 1-0 home loss to Cardiff City. With their second straight defeat, Birmingham City dropped to 20th place.
Finally, Conor Doyle was an unused sub in Derby County's 3-1 win over Middlesbrough.