U.S. men's schedule, results
Rovers, Friedel see Worthington Cup reign end with 3-1 loss to Manchester United.
By Robert Wagman (in Washington, D.C.)
(Wednesday, January 22, 2003) -- Blackburn Rovers' reign as Worthington Cup champion is over.
Home-field advantage and an early one-goal lead did not prevent Rovers from falling 3-1 to Manchester United before 29,048 at Ewood Park. After opening the semifinal series with a 1-1 draw at before 62,740 at its Old Trafford home, United used a 4-2 aggregate to advance to next month's final against Liverpool.
United States goalkeeper Brad Friedel, who was heroic in Rovers' 2-1 triumph over Tottenham Hotspur and U.S. keeper Kasey Keller in the 2002 final, was up and down tonight. He made several saves, but gave up a pair of goal to Paul Scholes and later took down Ruud van Nistelrooy in the box for a penalty kick that the Dutchman converted for a 3-1 advantage.
In the sixth minute, Friedel saved a straight-in attempt from Ryan Giggs, four minutes before stopping van Nistelrooy's shot.
Blackburn spirits soared when Andy Cole put Rovers ahead 1-0 in the 12th minute. The match went back and forth until David Beckham and Scholes took over in the 30th minute. Beckham froze two Rovers defenders and put the ball onto Scholes foot and he rifled it past Friedel to even matters at 1-1.
Twelve minutes later, another Beckham pass put Scholes in alone and again he beat Friedel for a 2-1 lead.
As Rovers desperately attacked, trying to equalize, van Nistelrooy was sent in clear in the 77th minute and Friedel took him down, earning a perhaps charitable yellow card and allowing United to go ahead 3-1.
In the opening leg on January 7, the strong play of Friedel and his defense produced a 1-1 draw.
United was completely frustrated in the opening half until the last minute when van Nistelrooy blasted a shot at Friedel from close range. The American blocked that shot and turned aside van Nistelrooy's rebound attempt.
Early in the second half, Friedel made several saves, once giving up a rebound to Juan Sebastian Veron who had the keeper dead to right, but shot wide.
Finally, United took a 1-0 lead when Scholes used his first touch to nail David Beckham's low cross past Friedel at the far post in the 58th minute.
Three minutes later, David Thompson scored the goal that gave Rovers a 1-1 tie.
United responded with several chances. Friedel managed to parry away Gary Neville's 25-yard drive. Then, in the final minute, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appeared to have given United the victory when he beat Friedel from eight yards, only to watch a defender clear the ball off the goal line.
Robert Wagman is a SoccerTimes senior correspondent and can be
e-mailed at email@example.com.
Robert Wagman is a SoccerTimes senior correspondent and can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.