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Rediff.com  » Sports » Man Utd beat Arsenal

Man Utd beat Arsenal

August 11, 2003 10:49 IST

United States goalkeeper Tim Howard was the hero as Manchester United won the Community Shield by beating Arsenal 4-3 in a penalty shootout at the Millennium Stadium on Sunday.

Close-season signing Howard saved twice in the shootout, including the decisive kick from Arsenal's Robert Pires, to give United the trophy after the two teams had been level at 1-1 after 90 minutes.

Mikael Silvestre headed premier league champions United in front after 15 minutes following a corner but FA Cup winners Arsenal levelled when French striker Thierry Henry curled a 30-metre free kick into the bottom corner five minutes later.

Arsenal had substitute Francis Jeffers red-carded for kicking out at United's Phil Neville after 74 minutes of the English season's traditional curtain-raiser.

In sweltering conditions both teams looked a little below their best in a closely-fought encounter. But two fouls inside the opening 90 seconds on the same touchline gave notice of the commitment of both sides.

Less than half a minute was on the clock when United defender Phil Neville went in late on Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira and was booked.

Barely a minute later, Arsenal's Ashley Cole returned the compliment on Nicky Butt and was also shown the yellow card.

Cole was lucky midway through the half not to see the red, being only warned by the referee after kicking Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in retaliation.

France defender Silvestre put United in front from the champions' first corner. Captain Roy Keane, on his 33rd birthday, nodded on Ryan Giggs's corner and Silvestre rose to head past Arsenal's new German keeper Jens Lehmann at the far post.

Howard may feel he should have saved Henry's free kick equaliser five minutes later.

Vieira, still not fully fit after a knee injury, was brought down by Nicky Butt some 25 metres from goal.

Henry then surprised United's new keeper by curling the ball round an inadequate United wall and away from his full-stretch dive into the bottom left corner.

Just after the half hour, Arsenal were lucky not to fall behind again when Giggs headed a cross from the right on to Lehmann's right-hand post and striker Ruud van Nistelrooy's header from the rebound skimmed the bar on its way over.

RUUD'S MISS

Jeffers had been on the pitch only 14 minutes when he and Neville got tangled on the ground after a strong tackle by the United defender. As they tried to extricate themselves Jeffers, back on his feet, kicked his still grounded rival.

Arsenal defender Sol Campbell, sent off for elbowing the last time the two rivals met in April, was fortunate to escape at least a booking after kicking out at United's Cameroonian substitute Eric Djemba Djemba.

Djemba Djemba later fired a good effort wide while Howard raced out of his area to foil Arsenal substitute Sylvain Wiltord to ensure the game went to a shootout.

In it Howard, preferred in goal to Fabien Barthez, saved Giovanni van Bronckhorst's effort, only for Lehmann to produce a stupendous stop from the normally lethal Van Nistelrooy.

But after Diego Forlan had made it 4-3 to United, Howard plunged right to save Pires's effort, sealing a first Shield triumph for United in five attempts.

Rex Gowar
Source:
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