Robbie Keane brilliantly fêted his first start for Aston Villa with a pair of goals, lifting the Birmingham club to a 3-2 victory Saturday at Wolverhampton.
The Irish striker, on a 6½-week loan from the Galaxy, tallied in the 51st and 84th minutes to prod the Villans from a 2-1 halftime deficit.
L.A.'s other EPL loaner, captain Landon Donovan, also had a role in a goal, helping to create Tim Cahill's opener in Everton's 1-1 draw against visiting Blackburn.
It was a huge day for another American: Clint Dempsey's hat trick sparked Fulham's 5-2 win over Newcastle.
Both of Keane's goals were stupendous. He pulled Villa even six minutes into the second half on a stunning half-volley from just outside the box from Ciaran Clark's header.
Even better was his late winner. He collected an attempted clearance at the top of the box and pounded it in off the bottom of the crossbar.
Keane did not celebrate either goal, in recognition of his time as a youngster in Wolves' set up.
“They were two great strikes,” Villa manager Alex McLeish told his club's website. “Robbie has done that throughout his career. It was no surprise to see him get on the scoresheet. The winner was spectacular. Not many people shoot from there these days. Robbie has done that a few times through the years.
“Getting it out from your feet is the key to the technique for a striker like Robbie. They instinctively know how to move the ball quickly and get it out of his feet. You have to be quick as an opposition player, and, unfortunately for the Wolves defenders, it was two sublime strikes.
“He nearly had a hat-trick. The third strike skidded by the post. It is refreshing to see players striking from distance. Robbie has got a good idea where the goals are. I am pleased for him.”
Keane had come on in the second half in his club debut last week, a 1-1 draw with Everton, but McLeish said he'd been “seriously thinking about Robbie, [and] somehow we had to get him in the team.”
Aston Villa (6-7-9) moved up to 11th in the English Premier League. Wolves (4-12-6) are 19th.
Donovan, making the fifth appearance of his second loan stint at Everton, helped the Australian Cahill end a 13-month goal drought in the 24th minute.
Donovan chipped a partially cleared Blackburn corner kick back into the box for Marouane Fellaini, whose first try was knocked down by Rovers goalkeeper Paul Robinson. Fellaini appeared to handle the rebound as he fed Cahill for a tap-in, but referee Mark Halsey let the goal stand.
Everton, which has just five points from its last five home games, should have been up, 2-0. Donovan superbly found Victor Anichebe with a cross just three minutes in, but the Nigerian forward didn't get all of the ball and sent it wide.
Donovan could have made it 2-0 in the 33rd minute, but he fired high after Cahill left him an open shot.
Blackburn, which hit the goal frame twice, earned a share of the points in the 72nd when Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard, Donovan's U.S. national teammate, failed to gather a cross and Cahill's clearance off the line hit David Goodwillie in the gut and ricocheted into the goal.
The draw dropped Everton (7-10-5) to 14th in the EPL and Blackburn (4-12-6) into the relegation zone.
GAME BY GAME
Jan. 1 at West Bromwich Albion (W, 1-0)
Did not dress
Jan. 4 vs. Bolton (L, 1-2)
Started, 90 minutes
Jan. 7 F.A. Cup third round vs. Tamworth (W, 2-0)
Started, 90 minutes, one assist (Heitinga)
Jan. 11 at Tottenham (L, 0-2)
Started, 90 minutes, yellow card
Jan. 14 at Aston Villa (T, 1-1)
Started, 90 minutes, one assist (Anichebe)
Jan. 21 vs. Blackburn (T, 1-1)
Started, 90 minutes
Jan. 28 F.A. Cup fourth round vs. Fulham
Feb. 1 vs. Manchester City
Feb. 4 at Wigan Athletic
Feb. 11 vs. Chelsea
Feb. 18 F.A. Cup round of 16 (prospective)
Feb. 25 at Liverpool
GAME BY GAME
Jan. 14 vs. Everton (T, 1-1)
81st-minute substitute for Warnock
Jan. 21 at Wolverhampton (W, 3-2)
Started, subbed in second-half stoppage, two goals (51st and 84th minutes)
Jan. 29 FA Cup fourth round at Arsenal
Feb. 1 vs. Queens Park Rangers
Feb. 5 at Newcastle United
Feb. 12 vs. Manchester City
Feb. 18 FA Cup round of 16 (potential)
Feb. 25 at Wigan Athletic