By Ronan Murphy
Everton kept their hopes of a European place alive with a 3-1 victory over Reading, moving to within two points of fifth-placed Arsenal. Fit again full-back Seamus Coleman was instrumental in the Toffees' opener, advancing well down the right before crossing for Marouane Fellaini to score.
Reading's loss sees them remain in the relegation zone, while West Ham United moved nine points above safety with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Stoke City. The Hammers took the lead just before half-time, while Stoke were aggrevied when they failed to win a penalty in the second-half. However, replays showed that Joey O'Brien had made a good tackle on Cameron Jerome. The Ireland international had a good game, keeping countryman Jonathan Walters quiet all afternoon.
Hull City climbed above Watford into second-place in the Championship table with a 5-2 win over Birmingham City. The entertaining encounter saw Robbie Brady put in another solid shift for the Tigers, creating George Boyd's opener with a wonderful pass through the Blues defence.
The Hornets slid down to third after failing to beat Wolverhampton Wanderers on Friday evening. Wolves, who have been struggling all season, snatched a late point to move within one point of safety. Manager Dean Saunders gave Stephen Hunt his first start of the season, but the winger's return failed to have the desired impact, and saw Hunt booed when he was withdrawn in the second half.
Veteran striker David Connolly scored his second goal in two games for Portsmouth, helping them to a 2-1 victory over Crewe Alexandra. The unexpected victory was Pompey's first win in 23 games, but despite picking up four points this week, they remain rooted to the bottom of the table.
An Alan Judge volley was the difference between Notts County and Carlisle in a one-goal game at Meadow Lane. The Dubliner's 35th minute strike sees the Magpies keep their playoff hopes alive, but Chris Kiwomya's side will need a good run-in, as they sit eight points behind the playoff spots.
Former Ireland under-17 international midfielder Will Hayhurst scored his second successive goal for Preston North End, grabbing an early equaliser in a 1-1 away drwa with Milton Keynes Dons.
A late David McAllister goal was little more than a consolation for Shrewsbury Town, as they went down 3-1 to Walsall. The former Shelbourne midfielder was not expected to play, but had a midweek red card overturned on appeal.
Republic of Ireland under-21 duo Conor Hourihane and Ronan Murray were on target for Plymouth Argyle in their 2-1 victory against Barnet. Despite the win, Plymouth are still in the relegation zone, but have moved to within one point of fellow strugglers Accrington Stanley and Barnet.
John Joe O'Toole scored a close-range shot in Bristol Rovers' 3-0 win over Burton Albion, and keep the Pirates six points from safety.
Celtic advanced to the last four of the Scottish Cup with a 2-1 away win over St Mirren. Anthony Stokes started the game for the Bhoys, and looked sharp in attack before he sealed victory with his head for Celtic's second.
A Leigh Giffiths hat-trick helped Hibernian into the last four, as Pat Fenlon's side overcame fellow SPL club Kilmarnock 4-2. Paul Heffernan equalised from the spot for Killie in the second half, but two late goals from Griffiths saw Hibs progress.
Darren O'Dea and Andy O'Brien came face to face in the opening weekend of the 2013 Major League Soccer season as Vancouver Whitecaps recorded a 1-0 win over Toronto FC. O'Brien's partnership with Jay DeMerit came to an early end as the Whitecaps captain was forced off after just eight minutes. However, O'Brien handled the pressure well and helped his side to a win over their rivals.
New Los Angeles Galaxy captain Robbie Keane had a hand in all his side's goals as they breezed past Chicago Fire to a 4-0 victory. The Dubliner played a part in all three of Mike Magee's goals before slotting home the fourth.
|IRISH XI OF THE WEEKEND
Goalkeeper: Stephen Henderson (Ipswich)
Defenders: Seamus Coleman (Everton), Andy O'Brien (Vancouver), Joey O'Brien (West Ham)
Midfielders: Robbie Brady (Hull), Will Hayhurst (Preston), Conor Hourihane (Plymouth), John-Joe O'Toole (Bristol Rovers)
Forwards: David Connolly (Portsmouth), Anthony Stokes (Celtic), Ronan Murray (Plymouth)