TAHARKA TAYLOR - Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Brad Friedel and Tottenham Hotspur got a delayed start to their Premier League season Monday at Old Trafford when they took on the defending league champions Manchester United.
There was much debate leading up to the weekend over who would be Spurs first choice goalkeeper this season but on Monday Spurs head coach Harry Redknapp revealed that it would be Friedel opposed to the Brazilian Heurelho Gomes.
Friedel certainly didn't disappoint in his debut. He was very solid in front of over 75,000 despite the 3 - 0 score line in favor of Manchester United.
His first major test in a Spurs jersey came eight minutes into the match courtesy of United's Thomas Cleverley. The Red Devils were quick on a counter attack initiated by defender Phil Jones and after pressing into the Spurs defensive third, Cleverley found a cushion of space at the top of the penalty box and let fly from 20-yards out.
Friedel reacted with a fine save, low and fully extended to his left, the 40-year-old managed to get his fingers on the driven blast denying Cleverley of his first United goal.
Friedel was again up to the task after the break in the 53rd minute when he stopped both Anderson and Wayne Rooney in a matter of seconds. Anderson played a one-two with Rooney and let one rip from about 25 yards. It truly was a fierce strike, although it was hit directly at Friedel the impact knocked him off his feet.
The rebound traveled all the way outside the penalty area back to Rooney who hit a less convincing effort but Friedel still had to react quickly after finding his feet and did well to get down again and smother the attempt.
With Friedel keeping Spurs in the game and Gareth Bale and the rest of the attack looking to capitalize on the occasional chance it seemed Tottenham might leave Old Trafford with something positive to show for but that all changed when Danny Welbeck scored his first of the season with a soaring header that left Friedel defenseless on a ball played in from Thomas Cleverley on the right wing.
Three minutes later Wayne Rooney almost added to the United lead after an indirect free kick attempt. Rooney's bending ball cleared the wall and got back down quickly, luring Friedel into a diving save to his right.
However the second goal did come eventually. It was Welbeck again in the middle of things, the 20-year-old made a smart run towards the near post drawing several Spurs defenders out of position. He acted with a clever back heel that found Anderson in the recently vacated space and the Brazilian hit it one time into the back of the net from close range.
Rooney finished things off in the 86th minute assisted by Ryan Giggs who came on as an 81st minute substitute. After several moments spent around the Spurs penalty area, Giggs carried the ball towards the touchline before chipping it over two Spurs defenders finding Rooney who directed his header towards the back post and into the back of the net at an unstoppable angle.
After Monday's disappointing loss to the season Tottenham continue Europa League play Thursday night when they take on Heart of Midlothian FC before returning to White Heart Lane to face Manchester City this weekend.