U.S. men's schedule, results
Friedel saves Rovers' badly needed 1-0 victory over Middlesbrough, giving Souness respite.By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
(Sunday, February 8, 2004) -- United States goalkeeper Brad Friedel led Blackburn Rovers to a 1-0 victory Saturday over Middlesbrough, giving endangered manager Graeme Souness' a boost.
Rovers recorded a badly needed English Premier League win when newcomer Jon Stead scored in his debut and Friedel made the goal stand up. In the late-going Middlesbrough came at the Blackburn defense in waves.
First, Friedel made a huge reaction save on a drive from Juninho, leaping to push his drive over the bar. Then, he stopped Gareth Southgate's point-blank shot and Craig Short cleared the rebound off the goal line. Finally, in the dying minutes, Friedel denied Boudewijn Zenden one-on-one to preserve his clean sheet and Rovers' triumph.
Given U.S. keeper Tim Howard's 10 league shutouts, Manchester United's 3-0 lead over host Everton at halftime Saturday appeared to be safe, Not so. Howard let three goals go by him for only the second time in this, his first Premier League season, but Ruud van Nistelrooy saved the day, powering home a header in the 89th minute to give United a 4-3 decision before 40,190 at Goodison Park.
In the first half, Howard twice denied Everton striker Wayne Rooney whileUnited moved to a comfortable lead on tallies by Louis Saha (ninth minute), van Nistelrooy (24th) and Saha again in the 29th.
Howard, however, was victimized twice by poor defending in his box. David Unsworth went low to head one past Howard to pull Everton to within 3-1 in the 49th minute. Sixteen minutes later, United defender John O'Shea victimized Howard with an own goal to make it 3-2. In the 75th minute, Thomas Gravesen's cross was headed powerfully past Howard by Kevin Kilbane for a 3-3 tie in a match that would soon turn ugly and possibly bring repercussions to United.
After van Nistelrooy saved the day with his second goal, things turned chaotic. Reportedly, several United players made obscene gestures at the unruly Everton crowd, almost triggering a riot. England's Football Association announced an investigation into the affair.
U.S. keeper Kasey Keller and Tottenham Hotspur were similarly saved by Gustavo Poyet's winner in the 89th minute. After losing 4-3 to Manchester City in an FA Cup fourth-round replay Wednesday, giving up four unanswered goals to a team a man down, Spurs came out on the right side of a 4-3 count over visiting Portsmouth Saturday before 36,107 at White Hart Lane
Three times, Tottenham squandered one-goal advantages. After Jermain Defoe gave Spurs a 1-0 lead after 13 minutes, Keller was beaten by Eyal Berkovic in the 39th minute. Robbie Keane scored for Spurs in the 42nd and 79th minutes, but Spurs' defense turned somnolent after each tally. Keller was victimized by Lomana Tresor LuaLua in the 73rd minute and Ivica Mornar in the 84th, before Poyet saved Tottenham further embarrassment.
Recently-arrived striker Brian McBride made his first start for Fulham, going the distance, while his U.S. teammate, defender Carlos Bocanegra added some solid defense in a 0-0 draw with Southampton. Fulham wouldn't have gained the draw with heroics by Dutch international keeper Edwin van der Sar.
McBride did not get much service from his midfield and was generally ineffective as Southhampton controlled play for long stretches. This put Fulham's defense under pressure, but great saves by van der Sar saved the day.
In another 0-0 result, Manchester City, with American Claudio Reyna guiding things from the midfield, attacked and attacked, but could not find the net against Birmingham City. With the attack stalled, Reyna came out in the 70th minute in favor of England international Steve McManaman, essentially another forward.
In England's First Division, U.S. midfielder Eddie Lewis gave Preston North End a first-half lead en route to its first win its last four home outings, a 3-0 whitewash of West Bromwich Albion.
Lewis fired home his fourth goal of the season, a free kick from just outside the penalty area after Ricardo Fuller had been upended by Andy Johnson. Lewis took most of Preston's corners and free kicks, playing well for 85 minutes before being relieved by a defender for the closing moments.
Reading and Marcus Hahnemann would love to forget a defensive collapse in a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Rotherham.
After Shaun Goater put Reading ahead 1-0 in the 20th minute on a penalty kick, Rotherham tied it on a penalty of its own four minutes later. Andy Monkhouse put Rotherham ahead 2-1 at half before Hahnemann was beaten three times after intermission.
Hahnemann made a couple of good saves for naught.
In the Netherlands, Ajax Amsterdam came out on top of visiting arch-rival PSV Eindhoven 2-1 to claim first place in the Eredivisie. Ajax broke a streak of four straight home losses to PSV before 50,146 at Amsterdam ArenA.
With a match in hand, Ajax is 16-2-1 with 49 points while Eindhoven is 14-2-4 with 46 points.
American John O'Brien started in his usual spot at left back and was effective on the left flank, overlapping into the attack easily on several occasions. A minute after Wesley Sneijder tied the game at 1-1 for Ajax in the 51st minute, O'Brien was replaced by attacker Rafael van der Vaart, leaving Ajax with three defenders.
The strategy worked with Nicolae Mitea scoring Ajax's decisive tally in the 61st minute.
In France American Greg Vanney led a big defensive effort by Bastia which defeated Toulouse 1-0.
In Portugal, American goalkeeper Zach Thornton did not suit up for his first game with Benfica, a 3-3 draw with Belenenses.
Robert Wagman is a SoccerTimes senior correspondent. E-mail Robert Wagman.