Sunday, March 9, 2008

Big Weekend Blowout!

Fulham earned a much needed point away to Blackburn this weekend, courtesy of some late heroics from Jimmy Bullard. The English midfielder confidently stroked an 89th minute freekick over the wall and past Brad Friedel's despairing dive to earn the Cottagers a 1-1 draw at Ewood Park. Eddie Johnson and Clint Dempsey were in the starting lineup for Fulham, which also included a familiar face between the sticks. That's right, Kasey Keller returned to the Fulham lineup for the first time since October and made four saves in the draw. Brian McBride also came off the bench for Fulham. The point stops a run of three consecutive defeats for Roy Hodgson's side, who will look to carry the momentum into next Sunday's showdown with Everton at Craven Cottage.

Speaking of Everton, Tim Howard's side kept pace with Liverpool by beating Sunderland 1-0 at the Stadium of Light. Howard made seven saves in the victory and the Toffees now look forward to Thursday's mammoth UEFA Cup tie with Fiorentina. Everton went down 2-0 to the Viola in Florence last week, so David Moyes' team will have to do at least one better this week if they hope to advance to the quarterfinals of the tournament.

Sunday was a day of highs and lows for West Ham's Jonathan Spector. Named to the U-23 Olympic Qualifying squad in the morning, the Illinois native went on to play 90 minutes for West Ham in the London derby against Tottenham. Unfortunately, the Hammers succumbed to a 4-0 defeat to their city rivals. The loss leaves West Ham in 10th place, but more worrying than their league position are the consecutive 4-0 losses they've suffered in recent weeks. They'll look to get back on form against Blackburn at Upton Park on Saturday.

One team who is finding their feet at the right time is Reading who made it two wins in a row on Saturday. Marcus Hahnemann kept another clean sheet as the Royals defeated Manchester City 2-0 at the Madejski Stadium. After seven consecutive defeat, six points from the last two games has lifted Reading out of the relegation zone and ostensibly put their fate in their own hands.

Standard Liege jumped out to stretched its lead at the top of the table to four points following its win on Friday over St. Truiden. Oguchi Onyewu marshalled a backline that held tight for a 2-1 victory.

In Germany, Hannover 96 fell 2-0 to Bayer Leverkusen. Steve Cherundolo was deployed at right back for Hannover who next face Arminia Bielefeld in their quest for a European place. You can also read a feature on Steve from Soccernet here.

Heath Pearce made his second consecutive appearance for Hansa Rostock, and helped his side to a 1-1 draw away from home to MSV Duisberg. Pearce came on as a second half sub for Rostock, who take on Hertha Berlin next Saturday.

In Holland, Michael Bradley and Heerenveen snapped out of their mini-slump and earned a solid 3-0 victory at home to NAC Breda. Bradley was on the scoresheet for his club, grabbing the winner in the 32nd minute. Heerenveen remain in sixth place in the Eredivise, tied on 48 points with Feyenoord. On Saturday, Bradley and his club face FC Gronigen, a major rival in the table for a European place. A victory on the weekend could see Heerenveen jump back into the top three, so be sure to check back next week to find out the latest...

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