AMSTERDAM – Tim Howard and Everton enjoyed a record-setting Saturday in the park, edging a 1-0 decision over guests Sunderland for their seventh Premier League win in a row.
The US netminder (above) rang up five saves and benefited from a John Stones line clearance as the Toffees established a new top win streak since the formation of the EPL, and their longest in league play in 27 years.
On a day when prospective World Cup teammate Jozy Altidore missed out for Sunderland with a minor training knock, Howard set a new personal-best run of consecutive victories in England while also backstopping the home side to a club record for points in a season with 66.
Using a game held in hand, Everton leapfrogged into the fourth and final Champions League slot, two points ahead of Arsenal. Howard and friends are also now four points shy of group phase pass for next fall's tournament, but have played two more games than third place Manchester City. Sunderland, however, lost for the sixth time in a seven-game win drought to remain seven points from safety air in the league basement.
Around the EPL, Geoff Cameron had a fine day at the home office as Stoke City blanked visiting Newcastle 1-0.
The Potters right back was all over the flank, linking well while also finding time to notch 10 clearances. Cameron could have picked up an assist just past the hour, but Magpies 'keeper Tim Krul robbed Peter Crouch at the end of his dangerous cross. Stoke have now won four straight at the Britannia and five out of an unbeaten six overall to move six points clear for 10th place.
Aston Villa netminder Brad Guzan lost a shutout late for the third time this season to fall 1-0 at Crystal Palace.
The former Chivas USA star managed three saves and two cross captures to keep his side in on a punchless day. Guzan could not be blamed on the 76th-minute winner by Jason Puncheon, but that was of no consolation as his team's losing streak reached four games to cut their survival cushion to just four points.
Also, Brad Friedel served as back-up as Tottenham rallied from three down for a 3-3 draw at West Bromwich Albion. The result dropped Spurs six points behind the Champions League pace of Everton, who still hold a game in hand on them.
Down a level in the Championship, Tim Ream ably shifted back to central defense in red-hot Bolton's 1-0 win over visiting Barnsley.
The US defender registered a team-high six clearances, three tackles and a shot block. In the end, Wanderers would post their seventh clean sheet from 17 games this season with Ream in the heart of defense. Up to their season high water mark of 14th place, Bolton have won three straight and are 7-1-3 with six shutouts in their last 11 matches.
Elsewhere, Oguchi Onyewu returned from a game on the injury shelf as Sheffield Wednesday fought back for a 3-3 home draw with Blackburn.
The center back recorded 12 clearances and a game-high six pass interceptions, as well as providing several helpful long passes to the attack. However, Onyewu was also among the culpable on the first Rovers goal. Despite staying winless in four, the Owls inched to within a victory of clinching survival with four round to play.
Finally, in Austria, Terrence Boyd worked the final 25 minutes as Rapid Vienna surrendered their five-game winning streak in a 0-0 home share with FC Admira Wacker Mödling.
The young forward set up a good chance for a teammate with 10 minutes left and had a decent look to win the game from outside the box in stoppage time, but his tight curler from the left channel lacked the distance to get over the away goalkeeper. Despite the dropped points, second place Rapid extended their shutout streak to 612 minutes.