'Player of Month' Donovan, Howard help Everton stun Chelsea, Man. U.
By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
(Tuedsay, February 23, 2010) -- With United States attacker Landon Donovan and goalkeeper Tim Howard in the starting lineup, Everton posted home victories over the top two teams in the English Premier League in its last two outings.
After its 2-1 defeat of league-leading Chelsea, Everton came from behind to down Manchester United 2-1 Saturday at Goodison Park.
Forward Dimitar Berbatov put Man. U. ahead 1-0 in the 16th minute on a goal-mouth shot that Howard had no chance to stop. Howard then got lucky when United striker Wayne Rooney beat him to a ball and went around the keeper, but he was bailed out by defenders who forced Rooney wide.
Everton leveled on a goal by midfielder Diniyar Bilyaletdinov in the 19th minute and won on tallies by reserves Dan Gosling, Bilyaletdinov's replacement, in the 76th minute and attacking midfielder Jack Rodwell in the 88th minute.
Donovan, who was named Everton's "Player of the Month" for January, has played the right side of midfield, but was moved to the left flank against United and then shifted to the center for the final 20 minutes. He played with high energy for the full 90 minutes, but couldn't take advantage of several good chances, including when he flubbed a point-blank chance in the 43rd minute.
On February 10, Everton dealt Chelsea a 2-1 setback.
Donovan had a big first half. After Chelsea striker Florent Malouda beat Howard in the 17th minute, Donovan placed a perfect corner kick into the heart of the box with Louis Saha going low to head it past keeper Petr Cech for a 1-1 tie.
As first-half stoppage began, Donovan ran onto a ball just outside of the penalty area and as he cut it back, he was taken down by defender Ricardo Carvalho. Saha's subsequent penalty kick was saved by Cech.
Saha made up for his penalty miss with a goal in the 75th minute. Howard ended up with three saves, while Donovan received a yellow card in the 64th minute for a bad tackle.
Everton is in eighth place at 10-8-8 with 38 points.
Between its league victories, Everton started its third-round Europa Cup home-and-home series with a 2-1 triumph over Sporting Lisbon of Portugal at Goodison Park last Tuesday night.
With a pair of goals before intermission, Everton was coasting through the final 45 minutes when defender Sylvain Distin took down Da Silva Muniz Liedson in the Everton box, was sent off and Miguel Veloso converted the penalty kick with Howard going the wrong way, registering an important away goal in the 87 th minute.
Howard ended the night with five saves in a good effort. Donovan went the distance and had a chance to score on the hour, but his soft chip did not make it over keeper Rui PatrÝcio.
The two teams close the series Thursday in Lisbon to see who advances to the Round of 16.
Donovan was voted "Player of the Month" by Everton fans via the on-line "Man of the Match" polls on the club's web site. He was presented with his award by Blues legend Graeme Sharp at a lunch in Goodison's Dixie Dean Lounge.
Donovan played five times in January, scoring once. He also provided a crucial assist for Leon Osman's headed goal in a 2-2 draw with Arsenal at the Emirates in the American international's Everton debut.
"It's a privilege to receive the recognition as it comes from the supporters." Donovan said.
U.S. keeper Brad Friedel wasn't his sharpest, but Aston Villa easily swept past visiting Burnley 5-2 at Villa Park Saturday.
Steven Fletcher opened the scoring for Burnley in the 10th minute when he got free in the box and caught up to a low cross. Villa pulled even on midfielder Ashley Young in the 34th minute and then broke the match open with four goals in 13 minutes in the second half.
Burnley added a stoppage-time goal with Friedel credited with a pair of saves.
Villa has two important Cup matches in the next five days. Tomorrow, it hosts Crystal Palace of the second-tier League Championship in an FA Cup fifth-round replay against Crystal Palace with the winner moving to the quarterfinals.
The replay was necessitated when, in perhaps the most exciting FA Cup match this season, Villa scored late for a tense 2-2 dual with Palace at Selhurst Park. When Darren Ambrose fired a 36-yard rocket that curved sharply away from Friedel -- a shot Ambrose called the strike of his life -- in the 70th minute, it looked like Palace had scored a major upset. But Stiliyan Petrov equalized in the 87th minute.
On Sunday, Villa meets Manchester United in the League Cup title match at Wembley Stadium.
Didier Drogba beat U.S. keeper Marcus Hahnemann and host Wolverhampton proved no match for Chelsea Saturday, falling 2-0 at Molineux Stadium. Wolves played well defensively, but generated little attack.
U.S. defender Jonathan Spector went the distance for West Ham United, which blanked visiting Hull City 3-0 at Upton Park.
West Ham led 1-0 when Hull lost midfielder Craig Fagan to his second yellow card in the 53rd minute. Later, Hull was reduced to nine men when captain Andy Gardner was carried off on a stretcher with an ankle injury with all three substitutes already used.
U.S. striker Jozy Altidore came on for Hull in the 65th minute.
Tonighth, Spector played 90 minutes for West ham, which was shut out 3-0 at Manchester United.
U.S. midfielder Stuart Holden joined Bolton Wanderers less than match-fit and suffered a leg strain in training. He still has not dressed for a first-team match or a reserve match .
DeMerit hand ball is costly for Watford
In the League Championship, American Jay DeMerit was in his usual spot in the center of Watford's defense, which gave up a penalty kick in stoppage time and drew 2-2 with Scunthorpe United.
The penalty was awarded after DeMerit was judged to have handled the ball in his penalty area, seconds after Watford had gone ahead.
On February 9, DeMerit went the distance for Watford, which used a pair of goals in the first 34 minutes to defeat visiting Bristol City 2-0 at Vicarage Road Stadium.
American striker Kenny Cooper has been used as a second-half substitute by Plymouth Argyle and that was the case Saturday when he played the final 14 minutes of a 1-1 draw with Leicester City.
Last Tuesday, Cooper played the final half hour of a 1-1 draw with Swansea City. In the previous outing, Cooper played the second half of a 2-1 road loss to Reading at Madejski Stadium. He had a scoring opportunity in the 84th minute, but was called for a hand ball.
American defender Frank Simek has been regularly playing 90 minutes for Sheffield Wednesday, as he did Saturday in a 1-0 loss to Ipswich Town and 2-0 setback to Doncaster Rovers, both at home.
On February 9, Wednesday downed Blackpool 2-0 in another home game at Hillsborough.
American forward Mike Grella, fresh over a heroic performance for third-division Leeds United in a Hohnstone's Paint Trophy semifinal series to League One foe Carlisle United, earned a pair of relief performances in league action.
He did not play Saturday when Leeds needed a stoppage-time goal to draw 1-1 with Brighton. On Tuesday, Grella played the final 30 minutes of a 2-1 loss to Walsall. In the previous match, he played the closing 15 minutes of a 1-1 draw at Leyton Orient.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent.
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