Adu gets first start for Monaco in Cup loss to PSG.
With Friedel in net, Aston Villa couples UEFA Cup advancement with EPL success.
By Robert Wagman
| Marcus Hahnemann posted a pair of shutouts to lead Reading to two victories.
-- Reading web site photo --
(in Washington, D.C.)
and Gary Davidson
(in Washington, D.C.)
(Thursday, October 2, 2008) -- Aston Villa is off to a good start and solid play in goal by Brad Friedel has already justified the club's judgment in acquiring the American from fellow English Premier League club Blackburn Rovers.
Riding a four-match unbeaten streak (3-0-1) in the Premier League and sitting one place out of first place, Villa advanced to the second round of the UEFA Cup tonight by drawing 1-1 at home with Liteks Lovech of Bulgaria. With Villa winning the opening leg 3-1 on the road, the EPL team won 4-2 on aggregate.
Friedel made two saves for Villa, which conceded a slight edge in possession to Liteks, but held a 19-7 advantage in shots. Marlon Haerwood put Villa ahead 1-0 in the 27th minute, while Wilfried Niflore tied the match, but not the series, with a penalty kick for Liteks in the 53rd minute.
On Saturday, Friedel made a single save in Villa's 2-1 home victory over Sunderland in EPL action.
Friedel's stop came early, when he easily denied a weak angled shot from Pascal Chimbonda, who had controlled a low cross from Liam Miller.
Sunderland went ahead 1-0 in the 10th minute when Steed Malbranque made a powerful run and fed his French countryman Djibril Cisse. Cisse split defenders Martin Laursen and Curtis Davies before beating Friedel low.
Ashley Young equalized for Villa in the 18th minute, 15 minutes before John Carew made it 2-1 for the victors.
On September 21, Villa visited West Bromwich Albion and prevailed 2-1 with Friedel needing three saves. With three straight triumphs and four games without a loss, Villa (4-1-1, 13 points) sits in third place in the Premier League, a point behind Chelsea and Liverpool, both 4-0-2.
On September 24, it was another American, Brad Guzan getting his first start in goal for Villa, which was eliminated 1-0 at home from the third round of the Carling Cup 1-0 despite four saves against Queens Park Rangers of the second-tier League Championship.
After a disputed corner kick was cleared by Villa, Daniel Parejo, on loan from Spanish power Real Madrid, lobbed the ball back into the penalty area. Damion Stewart elevated and drove a header past Guzan.
Things are not going as well for Everton and its English keeper Tim Howard, who suffered through a taxing couple of weeks, culiminating tonight with first-round elimination in the UEFA Cup.
With American Oguchi Onyewu in the central defense, host Standard de Liège of Belgium defeated Everton 2-1 for a 4-3 aggregate triumph in the first-round series.
Standard won the game and series on Milan Jovanovic's penalty kick in the 79th minute. Alex Witsel made it 1-0 for Standard in the 22nd minute, but Phil Jagielka pulled the Toffees even at 1-1 in the 67th minute. Howard made five saves.
On Saturday, it was a 2-0 loss for Everton to visiting Liverpool in EPL action. Howard made three saves, but was beaten twice by Fernando Torres, while Everton did not manage a shot on goal in the English Premier League match.
Six days earlier, Everton could do no better than a 2-2 road draw with recently-promoted Hull City. Howard was credited with two saves, while also watching teammate Phil Neville commit an own goal to put Hull ahead 2-0 early in the second half.
On September 24, Blackburn Rovers used a 1-0 edge to bounce visiting Everton from the third round of the Carling Cup. Rovers went ahead in the 10th minute on Martin Olsson's first goal for the club.
The left-back played give-and-go with Robbie Fowler before rifling a shot beyond Howard on a sequence initiated by veteran Turkish midfielder Tugay Kerimoglu.
Blackburn continued to apply pressure, but Howard was able to turn away Keith Treacy's shot in the 20th minute, one of five saves.
U.S. midfielder Clint Dempsey sat out the last two league matches, but put in a strong effort in going the distance September 23 when Fulham was sent packing 1-0 from the Carling Cup by host Burnley of the League Championship.
Dempsey saw plenty of the ball and tried to chip Brian Jensen, only to see the goalkeeper make a nice save in the 17th minute. In the 56th minute, Dempsey shot barely wide after a nice feed from midfielder Zoltan Gera.
Dempsey was dressed for Saturday's 2-1 loss to West Ham United and the previous Saturday's 1-0 road setback to Blackburn Rovers, but manager Roy Hodgson employed no reserves in either outing. That made it three straight matches that Dempsey viewed the proceedings from the bench without shedding his warm-ups.
Hahnemann blanks Wolves, Swansea
In the League Championship, U.S. keeper Marcus Hahnemann posted consecutive shutouts, blanking host Wolverhampton 3-0 Tuesday after dropping Swansea 4-0 at home Saturday.
Hahnemann made nine saves against Wolves. Thanks to an own goal, Reading led 1-0 in the fourth minute, shortly before Hahnemann easily garnered Andy Keogh's attempt from distance. Not long after, Hahnemann robbed Keogh with a sterling save.
Soon after intermission, Hahnemann denied Keogh again, this time a header off defender Kevin Foley's cross.
Late, Wolves forced a couple of corners and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake then had a shot blocked on an excellent effort by defender Andre Bikey, before Richard Stearman's stab at goal was turned away by Hahnemann.
Hahnemann needed only one save to post his clean sheet against Swansea, lifting the Royals to third place at 5-2-2 with 17 points. In league play, Reading is 3-0-1 in its last four games, outscoring the oppooisition 15-2.
U.S. midfielder Bobby Convey, after last season's struggle with injury, has struggled for playing time this year. After starting the second and third games of the season, Convey has seen only 38 minutes of league action in two relief performances and did not dress for Wolves and Swansea meetings. James Henry seems to have been awarded the Philadelphian's spot on the bench.
Convey did put in a long night's work September 23 when Reading was sent packing from the third round of the Carling Cup 4-3 in penalty kicks after a 2-2 draw.
Convey played through regulation and the first of two mandatory 15-minute overtime periods before being replaced by David Mooney before the second OT commenced. With Stoke ahead 1-0 after a ninth-minute tally, Convey drilled a 25-yard shot into the midriff of keeper Steve Simonsen.
Watford's American defender Jay DeMerit remains sidelined with a calf injury, though the injury is not as serious as first feared.
Another American back, Frank Simek of Sheffield Wednesday, hopes to return to the lineup this month after a lengthy recovery from ankle surgery.
Robert Wagman is SoccerTimes senior correspondent. Gary Davidson is SoccerTimes publisher and managing editor.
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