Neville lauds Howard's heroics
Everton captain Phil Neville hailed Tim Howard as the most consistent goalkeeper in the Premier League after the American's man-of-the-match performance sent Major League Soccer's All-Stars to their first defeat against foreign opposition.
USA international Howard, whose shoot-out saves against Manchester United helped Everton win their FA Cup semi-final last season, was the penalty hero again as the English side ended the MLS All-Stars' five-game winning streak in their mid-season showpiece at the Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City.
Howard, who kept Everton in the game during normal time, made three saves to deny the All-Stars a sixth successive victory over visiting sides, his final save of the night denying former Arsenal star and All-Star captain Freddie Ljungberg in sudden death.
"He won us the semi-final last year by saving penalties and he's done it again," Neville said of Howard. "Consistently he's been one of the best keepers in the Premiership over the last two or three seasons. We're just so lucky to have him in our net and he's a good guy too."
Of the challenge posed by an MLS side led by Ljungberg and starring keeper Kasey Keller and Mexican playmaker Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Neville added: "The standard's obviously getting better and better.
"It was a tough game tonight, either side could have won, penalty shoot-outs are a little bit of a lottery but we're just glad to be the first Premiership side to beat the MLS in an All-Star Game. We can be proud of our achievements."
Everton were gifted the opener in normal time in the 12th minute when US international Stuart Holden collected a throw in from near the All-Stars' byline and sent a casual pass across the edge of the penalty area straight at Louis Saha who coolly slotted past Kasey Keller.
The MLS team were soon on the scoresheet, however, as Blanco sent in a high ball from hal-fway which Joleon Lescott failed to head clear near the penalty spot. The ball went to the left edge of the area when Leighton Baines was bounced off the ball by Conor Casey, who passed inside with the outside of his foot behind the Everton defence. Holden touched it on towards the back post where Brad Davis tapped in for a 26th-minute equaliser.
Blanco sent a free-kick straight at Howard but there was further anxiety for the Everton keeper in the 38th minute when a Holden cross from the right beat Yobo to give Casey a free header seven yards out, Howard having to change direction to save low to his left.
Next to test Howard was Seattle's Fredy Montero, who sent in a low drive from 20 yards that had the Everton keeper at full stretch to save to his right in the 42nd minute.
The strong finish to the opening period sent the MLS All-Stars into the half-time break much the happier with the 1-1 scoreline, although Everton boss David Moyes made no changes to his team at the interval.
Opposite number Dominic Kinnear, head coach of the Houston Dynamo, began to rotate the All-Stars at his disposal, introducing four new faces including Galaxy striker Landon Donovan and replacing Keller with Zach Thornton.
Thornton, however, lasted just 15 minutes before succumbing to injury and, having gained Moyes' permission, Kinnear sent Keller back into the fray, as well as making his final three changes.
It was Donovan who made the biggest impact, forcing Howard to push his chip from the left corner of the area over the bar in the 68th minute as Everton began to show the effects of both pre-season training and the high altitude in Utah.
Donovan, playing in his ninth All-Star game, had an even better chance in the 75th minute when Ljungberg collected a short pass from Casey inside the area, turned and crossed from the right to the Galaxy striker, who from the six-yard line and under pressure from the onrushing Howard sent his shot against the post.
Everton got a chance to move in front in the 82nd minute when substitute Jo was fouled on the left and when Baines sent in a free-kick to the near post, the Brazilian's header, the first shot of the half from the visitors, was sent just over the bar.
There was still time for the All-Stars to force the issue but Davy Arnaud's stoppage-time header was parried at close range by Howard to send the game to penalties and further spot-kick heroics.