Convey helps spark Reading comeback win over Middlesbrough.
By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sunday, August 20, 2006) -- United States midfielder Bobby Convey helped ignite a comeback for Reading, which made its English Premier League debut a successful one by overcoming a two-goal deficit to down visiting Middlesbrough 3-2 before 23,855 at Madejski Stadium yesterday.
Convey went 83 minutes while his U.S. teammate and goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann turned in a somewhat shaky performance as Reading prevailed in its first appearance in the Premiership in its 135-year history.
Trailing 2-0 with intermission looming, Convey teamed with Reading midfielder James Harper to gain possession on the right flank. Harper passed to the far side of the penalty area to Seol Ki-Hyeon, who beat defender Julio Arca and crossed in front of the net. The ball was deflected slightly, but that did not deter Dave Kitson from heading it home, bringing the Royals to within 2-1 in the 43rd minute.
A minute later, Steve Sidwell used a 10-yard first-time volley of Ivar Ingimarssion's cross to equalize 2-2. Leroy Lita's left-footer into the top left corner of the net in the 55th minute gave Reading the 3-2 win.
Hahnemann got off to a rough start. In the 11th minute, he failed to get to Aiyegbeni Yakubu's cross and Stewart Downing put it away for a 1-0 Boro advantage.
Ten minutes later, Fabio Rochemback sent a free kick from just above the box through the defensive wall. Hahnemann dive to block it, but left the rebound for Yakubu to easily deposit in the net to make it 2-0.
U.S. goalkeeper Brad Friedel and Blackburn Rovers had a Premiership opener to forget. Not only did they lose 3-0 at Portsmouthm they ended up with only nine players.
Portsmouth already led 2-0 on goals by Svetoslav Todorov and Nwankwo Kanu before Lucas Neill was sent off in the 65th minute. Kanu made it 3-0 in the 84th minute as Andy Todd became the second Blackburn player sent off in the 89minute.
The final score might have been worse, but Friedel made three good saves before stopping Kanu's penalty kick in stoppage time.
U.S. keeper Tim Howard turned in a strong performance in his first appearance for host Everton, a 2-1 decision over newly-promoted Watford.
Howard, who was obtained for the season on loan from Manchester United and won the starting job from Richard Wright, blanked Watford until stoppage time.
Everton led 1-0 on Andrew Johnson' goal in the 15th minute. Howard's clean sheet was preserved early in the second half when Watford defender Hameur Bouazza's left-side cross hit the crossbar. Mikel Arteta made it 2-0 in the 82nd minute with a hotly disputed penalty kick, rendering Damian Francis' tally in injury time meaningless.
American defender Jay DeMerit, who has been battling an ankle ailment, came on with Bouazza at the start of the second half and represented himself well.
Visiting Fulham was no match for Manchester United, which scored four times in the first 19 minutes en route to winning 5-1 before a record 75,115 at newly enlarged Old Trafford today.
Fulham's only tally came on Rio Ferdinand's own goal. U.S. striker Brian McBride came off the bench in the 64th minute after Wayne Rooney finished the scoring for United, while American defender Carlos Bocanegra did not play.
American striker Johann Smith dressed for Bolton Wanderers but did not play yesterday in a 2-0 triumph over Tottenham Hotspur.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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