AMSTERDAM – John Anthony Brooks had another solid outing at the back to help Hertha Berlin tentatively vault out of the Bundesliga drop zone with a 1-0 victory over visiting Augsburg.
The US center back was mostly confined to possession maintenance on the ball, while notching three tackles and three pass picks on the defensive side. Brooks did get off scot-free after misjudging a 28th minute cross when Augsburg forward Raul Bobadilla fired over. Hertha snapped a two-game home losing slide to reach 14th place.
Turning to the English Premier League, four saves and four cross captures from Brad Guzan were not enough to prevent Aston Villa's losing skid from reaching six games with a 1-0 defeat at Newcastle.
After a bungled clearance in front of goal allowed Papiss Cissé to open shortly before the break, Guzan saved his best work for a 74th minute denial of Ryan Taylor's testing free kick. The American was also helped late by the wood work, but the punchless Villans were unable to keep their win drought from hitting an even dozen games.
Meanwhile, Geoff Cameron watched on as 10th place Stoke City topped Hull City 1-0 at the Britannia.
One flight down in the Championship, Eric Lichaj and form side Nottingham Forest moved to within nine points of a promotion playoff spot thanks to a 3-0 triumph away to Daniel Williams' Reading.
Both Americans went the distance, with the Royals midfielder leading all players by completing 78 of 82 passes. However, it was Lichaj's turnover-free shift with six clearances and three pass interceptions that ended up on the winning side. Ninth-place Forest moved to 4-0-1 in their last five, while Reading dropped their third straight home game to sit 18th.
Around the league, Jonathan Spector starred in the heart of defense as 13th place Birmingham City got back on track with a 1-0 home win over Brentford.
The veteran handyman led all players with 11 clearances, while intercepting four passes and adding a pair of area blocks. The result gave Birmingham their first win in nine league games and their third shutout in eight with Spector at the right center back spot.
Tim Ream expertly pulled double duty to help Bolton get well by edging guests Brighton Hove & Albion 1-0.
The St. Louis native started at left back before ending it in defensive midfield without a single turnover on the day. In addition to connecting a handful of key passes into attack and drawing one firm save from the edge of the Brighton box, Ream notched a pair of tackles and a big shot block as Wanderers halted a three-game losing streak.
Over in Sweden, Heath Pearce laughed off incorrect spelling on the back of his jersey to work a strong IFK Göteborg debut in their 6-0 group phase rout of Svenska Cupen hosts Myresjö/Vetlanda FK.
Wearing an away shirt reading "PEARCHE" on his back, the left back enjoyed a strong attacking match as the Angels grabbed the top spot in Group 2. The ball ended up in the back of the net from one Pearce cross, but forward Mikael Boman was flagged for an offside infraction.