The most memorable F.A. Cup showdown in memory, maybe ever -- for Americans, that is -- turned on two more brilliant balls from Landon Donovan.
The Galaxy captain created both Everton goals in a 2-1 fourth-round victory Friday over U.S. national teammate Clint Dempsey and Fulham, adding another chapter to his second glowing loan spell with the Liverpool club.
Donovan's crosses from the right flank were headed home by Denis Stracqualursi in the 27th minute and Marouane Fellaini in the 73rd as the Toffees overcame an early deficit at Goodison Park to advance to a round-of-16 clash Feb. 18.
Donovan, who will be with Everton through Feb. 25, has assisted four of the club's six goals in its last five games.
“Landon's been great since he's been here," Everton assistant coach Steve Round told media after the victory, just the second in Donovan's five appearances since the loan deal officially started Jan. 1. “He's a real diamond of a guy. He's a very intelligent footballer, and the lads all like him. You've seen the quality of his end product, whether it be from crosses or set plays. He's a top player.”
Donovan has been outstanding since joining Everton, just as he was in a 10-week stint with the Toffees two years ago. He's been a force on the right flank and has become the go-to corner kick specialist, a role he defers to David Beckham with the Galaxy.
Dempsey, a Texan who has scored 15 goals this season for Fulham, won both major U.S. player-of-the-year awards and has in many eyes surpassed Donovan as the premier U.S. player. But Donovan was clearly superior in this encounter as Everton used wing play to offset the Cottagers' 4-3-3 alignment.
Dempsey, as one of the wide attackers, struggled to make an impact in the system, and Everton was the better side, even as it conceded a 14th-minute penalty kick to Danny Murphy following a John Heitinga hand ball.
Donovan, of course, was delighted with the triumph.
“Wow,” he posted on his Twitter account. “The energy in the stadium was great and really proud of our performance. Thanks to the fans, players and EFC for another great memory.”
Dempsey's postgame tweet was not quite so sweet.
“Appreciate all the fans who supported the team,” he wrote. “Just landed back in London. Training tomorrow. On to the next one.”
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. 27 F.A. Cup fourth round vs. Fulham (W, 2-1)
Started, 90 minues, two assists (Stracqualursi, Fellaini)
Feb. 1 vs. Manchester City
Feb. 4 at Wigan Athletic
Feb. 11 vs. Chelsea
Feb. 18 F.A. Cup round of 16 vs. opponent TBA
Feb. 25 at Liverpool