AMSTERDAM – Jozy Altidore and 10-man AZ Alkmaar won their first match in eight Eredivisie games on Sunday, climbing clear of the drop zone with a 2-1 victory at Heracles.
The US striker had his best chances near the start of each period, putting the first over and the second just wide. The Cheese Farmers were left shorthanded by a Thomas Lam ejection on the half-hour mark, but hung on to grab a sorely needed victory.
Across the North Sea in England's Premier League, a solid showing by Aston Villa 'keeper Brad Guzan was not enough to stave off a 2-1 home defeat to Liverpool. The former Chivas USA man notched five saves, including two on Luis Suárez and another on Steven Gerrard to temporarily protect an early lead.
The Reds duo had the last laugh, however, with Suárez winning a 60th-minute penalty for Gerrard to net the winner. The loss dipped Villa back into the relegation pool, mere goal difference shy of safety with seven games remaining.
Turning to the Bundesliga, Timothy Chandler returned from injury with a decent day's work as cardiac kids FC Nürnberg rallied from two down for a 2-2 share at Wolfsburg. The US international was robbed of a goal in the 18th minute, as Wolves netminder Diego Benaglio acrobatically clawed his drive from distance over the bar.
Nürnberg have now fought back in the final half-hour for four draws in the last six games. They've also gone a bulletproof 3-0-5 since the winter break to creep to within four points of a Europa League place.
One level below, Sandhausen loan attacker Andrew Wooten came up empty from two shots on frame in a 1-1 home draw against regular employers Kaiserslautern. The point pulled them to within one of the survival playoff spot and to three away from rising out of the danger zone.
Over the border in Denmark's Superliga, Charlie Davies was rewarded with another start after a good midweek effort, helping Randers FC tentatively regain the league's second Champions League slot with a 2-0 victory at SønderjyskE.
The American was removed at the break for regular starter Ronnie Schwartz, but not before going close on two occasions. Davies nodded off the bar midway through the opening frame and was denied on a long rocket near the break.
In nearby Sweden, Alejandro Bedoya notched an opening-day assist as Helsingborg kicked off the new Allsvenskan season with a 3-0 home defeat of Brian Span's Djurgården.
The playmaker highlighted a solid 82 minutes of work by slipping in David Accam for the Reds' second just past the half hour. Span, meanwhile, pitched in 35 active minutes for Djurgården, drawing one good save from the home netminder.