American Exports: Parkhurst wins second Ekstra Bladet Cup
AMSTERDAM — Michael Parkhurst became just the second American to repeat as a domestic cup champion across the pond, going the distance in defensive midfield as FC Nordsjælland scored a thrilling 3-2 triumph over familiar Ekstra Bladet Cup foe FC Midtjylland on Sunday evening.
Playing at the home of Danish league kings FC Copenhagen, Nordsjælland saw two leads wiped out by Black Wolves star Mikkel Thygesen before Søren Christensen fired the underdogs ahead to stay in stoppage time.
Parkhurst continued showing versatility for the Wild Tigers, holding down his fourth position of the month to help them retain the trophy and notch another Europa League berth. By helping to beat FCM in a second straight cup final, the former New England Revolution star joins an exclusive club with Rangers midfielder Maurice Edu, who has helped raise the last two Scottish League Cups.
In nearby Sweden, Alejandro Bedoya enjoyed a blinder, playing a part in all three goals as Örebro snapped a three-game losing streak with a 3-1 Allsvenskan win over GAIS.
After he picked up an early yellow card, the US international forced a rebound from long range that was easy pickings for teammate Patrick Haginge on 36 minutes. A stunning backheel pass teed up Fredrik Nordback for the 57th-minute winner and Bedoya capped the win by nodding home at the far post 10 minutes later.
It was closing day over in England's Premier League, with Brad Friedel backstopping Aston Villa to a 1-0 win over Liverpool.
The former Reds netminder made three saves to preserve his team's first home win over the Anfield bunch in 13 years, including a highlight reel heist on Raul Mereilles.
Elsewhere, Tim Howard was on his toes to run his personal Chelsea unbeaten streak to six games with a 1-0 win at Goodison Park. The 'Nats No. 1 rang up five saves, his best on a back-to-back denial of Nicholas Anelka near the break.
Clint Dempsey and Fulham ended the season in eighth place despite conceding the last-gasp equalizer in a 2-2 draw with visiting Arsenal.
With main Fair Play standings rival Tottenham claiming a Europa League berth the old fashioned way by finishing fifth, it appears as though Zoltan Gera's late red card will not keep the Cottagers from joining them on the continent next season.
Blackburn midfielder Jermaine Jones finished his loan stint with 90 strong minutes to help Blackburn secure EPL membership with a 3-2 win at Wolverhampton. Marcus Hahnemann served as back-up goalkeeper for the beaten hosts.
Finally, in the Netherlands, Charles Kazlauskas settled down nicely from an early unpunished flub to hold down right back in Helmond Sport's decisive 1-0 promotion/relegation playoff semifinal win over Veendam.
Having rallied from three down to draw in the away opener, the home side earned a two-leg shot at wresting away Excelsior's place in the Eredivisie thanks to Mark Veldmate's tie winner 15 minutes from time.