AMSTERDAM – Stoke City debutant Brek Shea twice came close to playing relief hero on Saturday, but the visitors ended up falling 1-0 at Fulham.
Having been brought on to replace winger Matthew Etherington midway through the opening frame, Shea saw his cross handled in the area by Ashkan Dejagah in the 55th minute. Unfortunately for the Potters, Jonathan Walters squandered the resulting penalty shot at an equalizer.
Moments later, Shea nearly tied the game himself, buzzing the Fulham net with a shot from the edge of the box. The former FC Dallas ace was given a "7" rating by Sky Sports for his first EPL contest.
Geoff Cameron started in central defense for visitors, but was removed for an attacker after a trying 51-minute shift. Despite dropping their fourth consecutive league game away from home, Stoke held firm in 10th place.
Elsewhere, Brad Guzan notched five saves as Aston Villa suffered a late 2-1 defeat at Arsenal. The US netminder was at his best to keep the visitors in with twin second-half stops on Olivier Giroud. Eric Lichaj, meanwhile, remained a spectator in the away dugout as Villa dipped back into the relegation zone.
The news was no better for Tim Howard and Everton, who conceded twice in the waning moments for a 2-1 collapse loss at Norwich City.
The No. 24 shirt made three stops on his 300th Toffees appearance, including a dandy on Canaries skipper Grant Holt 10 minutes before intermission. Howard would eventually be left without a chance as Sporting KC loan item Kei Kamara leveled with his first EPL goal in the 84th minute and Holt won it for the home side deep into stoppage time.
With but one victory in their last six league outings, sixth-place Everton have slipped eight points off the Champions League qualification pace of Tottenham Hotspur.
One league below in the Championship, Jonathan Spector ably held down the right back spot in Birmingham City's 2-0 victory at Peterborough. By running their away unbeaten run to four, the 16th-place Brums moved seven points clear of the danger zone.
Zak Whitbread watched on from the away dugout as Leicester City posted a 0-0 draw at Blackpool. The fifth-place Foxes halted a two-game losing skid.
Derby County forward Conor Doyle also went unused in a 2-1 loss at Watford. Now winless in five, the Rams fell to 11th place.
Over in the Bundesliga, Timothy Chandler notched a late equalizing assist for the second weekend in a row as FC Nürnberg logged a 1-1 draw at Stuttgart.
With 13 minutes remaining, the US international led Markus Feulner into the area, where he beat the goalkeeper at the far post to tie the score. Chandler also saw his fifth yellow of the season for a late tackle near the hour, meaning he will miss next week's league match.
Despite remaining unbeaten in four, Der Club saw their protection from relegation trimmed to nine points.
Around the Bundesliga, Jermaine Jones matched Chandler with an assist and a booking in Schalke's 2-1 win over Fortuna Düsseldorf.
Just before the half-hour, the midfielder nodded a long free kick serve across the face of goal for Joel Matip to bag the first of his two goals. Jones would later draw a yellow card for a midfield tackle.
The win, Schalke's first in more than a month, lifted them one rung to ninth place.
Fabian Johnson went the distance at left back as Hoffenheim dropped a 2-1 relegation derby decision at Augsburg.
Club and country mate Daniel Williams was an unused sub, while Michael Parkhurst was a late illness scratch for the victors. The result pushed Augsburg up to the survival playoff spot, two points ahead of Hoffenheim.
Finally, in Spain's second flight, Carlos Bocanegra was an unused sub in Racing Santander's 2-0 win over Mirandés. Thanks to their third win in four, the hosts pulled to within three points of escaping the drop zone.