AMSTERDAM – It was an eventful Saturday for Americans playing in Europe, highlighted by Jozy Altidore's second hat trick of the Eredivisie season fueling AZ Alkmaar's 4-1 home triumph over Vitesse.
The US striker got the scoring started 10 minutes out of intermission with a stopping header. Altidore then kissed home another left-wing cross nine minutes later before chesting down to slam his third of the day from Markus Henriksen's terrific curling set-up with 13 minutes remaining.
Altidore raised his season haul to 14 goals, which puts him in a three-way tie for second place, two off the top of the chart. Meanwhile, the victory – AZ's first at home since mid-September – lifted them to 11th place.
Over in Turkey's Süper Lig, fresh Bursaspor loan catch Maurice Edu enjoyed a winning 24-minute debut in their 2-1 defeat of guests Kayserispor.
The defensive midfielder drew raves from the locals after a strong relief outing, which included a fine save drawn from nearly 30 yards. Bursaspor, who ran their league unbeaten streak to eight games, tentatively climbed into fourth place.
Turning to England's Premier League, Brad Guzan recorded four saves and Eric Lichaj worked 85 solid minutes off the bench, but Aston Villa still blew a two-goal lead to settle for a 2-2 derby draw at West Bromwich Albion.
Lichaj was called into action early as an injury replacement, picking up the right defender position in Villa's 3-5-2. The result nudged them out of the danger zone despite stretching their EPL win drought to six games.
Geoff Cameron went the distance as Stoke City fell 3-1 at Swansea City. Though pulled out of position on the home icebreaker, the US international worked a decent overall shift as the Potters slipped to 10th place on their third straight loss.
One league below in the Championship, Tim Ream was in fine form at the back in Bolton's 0-0 draw at promotion chasers Crystal Palace. Wanderers, who held position in 16th place, have not allowed a league goal in the run of play for 349 minutes.
Bundesliga action returned from the winter break, with Fabian Johnson and Daniel Williams performing well in a 0-0 home stalemate with Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Johnson helped limit the Foals to one shot on goal while also setting up three chances at the other end. Williams entered for the injured Sejad Salihović on 36 minutes, taking up his familiar defensive midfield slot to help the 16th-placed hosts halt a six-game losing slide.
In Spain's second division, Carlos Bocanegra went the full 90 for Racing Santander in their 1-0 loss at Las Palmas. Los Racinguistas remain mired in 21st place in the 22-team league, four points (but potentially as many as seven after Sunday's games) off the drop.