American Exports: Friedel, Spurs clinch CL on closing day
AMSTERDAM – It was an eventful Sunday for Americans playing in Europe, with Brad Friedel and Tottenham securing a Champions League place thanks to a 2-0 derby win over Fulham.
The former US star logged five saves, with his best a late double robbery on Damien Duff and Moussa Dembélé. The shutout was Friedel's 14th of the season, moving him into sole possession of sixth place in the career EPL chart with 133.
Spurs finished the season fourth, giving Friedel his first crack at Champions League action in the fall, so long as Chelsea does not win this year's final, which would send the Blues in Spurs' place. Playing the final game on the schedule without Clint Dempsey, Fulham ended up ninth.
Around the league, Tim Ream and Bolton nearly pulled off a great escape, but a 77th minute penalty from home side Stoke City sent them down with a 2-2 closing day draw.
The center back had a solid day in defense and nearly rescued Wanderers from the drop with a stoppage time winner, only to have Potters netminder Thomas Sørensen stop his header. Both Ream and recovering teammate Stuart Holden will play next season in the Championship, Bolton's first there since 2001-02.
Tim Howard needed three saves to help Everton finish seventh with a 3-1 win over Newcastle. Playing spoiler to Magpies Champions League hopes, the US No. 1's best work came in denying Papiss Cissé late.
Aston Villa left back Eric Lichaj pitched in another competent shift, earning the team's highest outfield rating from Sky Sports in a 2-0 loss at Norwich City. The young wing back went close to getting his side on the board near halftime, but his low drive was shoved wide.
Over the border in Scotland, Alejandro Bedoya and Maurice Edu combined to set up the first three goals as runners up Rangers concluded their season with a 4-0 rout of home side St. Johnstone.
With Carlos Bocanegra gone on early leave, Edu used through balls to assist on the first two Rangers tallies, bringing his season total to a career-high five. Bedoya, who also saw yellow in a buzzing shift, recorded his first SPL helper with a low cross for hat trick hero Sone Aluko just past the hour.
Over in Serie A, Michael Bradley was solid in midfield as Chievo closed up shop for the term with a 1-0 victory over Lecce. The hosts posted their fourth clean sheet in six games to end the season in 11th place.
In Belgium, Mikkel Diskerud went unused as Gent ended their season in fourth place following a 3-1 win over outgoing champs Genk. The Buffalos will now wait to face Monday's Cercle Brugge-Mons playoff winner for a place in the Europa League.
Next door in the Netherlands, Charles Kazlauskas nodded home the insurance tally as Helmond Sport advanced to one of two Eredivisie promotion/relegation finals with a 2-0 win at nearby rivals FC Eindhoven.
Scoring for the second straight game, the right-sider set a new career high with seven goals on the campaign. Seeking their first Eredivisie involvement since 1984, Helmond Sport open their do-or-die tie with VVV Venlo at home on Thursday.
Across the North Sea in Denmark, Conor O'Brien extended their home unbeaten streak to six games by hanging on for a 2-2 draw with league leaders FC Copenhagen. Though they leaked twice in the final quarter hour to settle for a share, the result allows Michael Parkhurst and FC Nordsjælland to claim the perch with a win on Monday night.
Clarence Goodson and Brøndby suffered the indignity of a 5-1 humbling at AGF Aarhus. The US defender went into the book late in the opening frame and his foul was doubly punished by the winning free kick.
HB Køge defender Brad Rusin came on for the final half hour of a 3-1 loss to Silkeborg. The result doomed them to a last place finish with two games remaining.
Finally, in Norway, Steve Clark had his roughest outing of the season as Hønefoss dropped a 4-1 decision to rude guests Odd Grenland. Now winless in three, they slipped to 12th.