Howard United's hero |
New boy Tim Howard was Manchester United's shootout hero as the Premiership champions beat Arsenal to take the Community Shield in Cardiff on Sunday.
The American goalkeeper saved from Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Robert Pires as United won 4-3 on penalties.
The drama came after the two Premiership heavyweights had fought out a tight 1-1 draw in searing conditions in the Millennium Stadium.
Mikael Silvestre put United ahead with a free header on 15 minutes and Thierry Henry levelled soon after with a wonderful free-kick.
And a game which had always been fiercely contested boiled over 16 minutes from time when Gunners substitute Francis Jeffers was sent off for kicking out at Phil Neville.
Despite the name of the game there was little sign of any community spirit out on the pitch as two players were booked inside the first 90 seconds.
First Neville got a yellow card for a late lunge on Patrick Vieira and then Ashley Cole received the same punishment for a foul on Nicky Butt.
The early stages were tight with both teams trying to establish a foothold, but the game burst into life on 15 minutes as the champions went ahead.
United won a corner on their right, Ryan Giggs curled it in and when Roy Keane flicked on Silvestre was left unmarked eight yards out to net with a simple header.
That lead lasted just five minutes though as the Gunners roared back with a sensational trademark strike from Henry.
Butt was penalised for a foul on Vieira and Henry curled a delicious 30-yard free-kick over the wall and past Howard into the bottom corner of the United net.
The champions wasted a great chance to regain the lead on 33 minutes.
Giggs flicked a header against the post from Neville's cross and Ruud van Nistelrooy headed against the woodwork from the rebound.
Arsenal hit back though and in the dying minutes of the first half Freddie Ljungberg's deflected chip went over with Howard struggling.
After the interval the Gunners brought on Sylvain Wiltord and Pires for Henry and Ray Parlour, but it was United who had the first real chance of the second half.
Less than a minute in Giggs crossed into the six-yard box and van Nistelrooy somehow failed to make contact with the goal at his mercy.
The champions had another chance to go ahead 19 minutes from time when Giggs went past the committed Lehmann, but his lob from a bad angle went wide with Sol Campbell guarding the Arsenal goal.
A minute later Eric Djemba-Djemba -- on as a substitute -- fired just over after a powerful run.
A game that had always contained plenty of spice finally boiled over on 74 minutes when Jeffers was challenged strongly by Neville and kicked out in frustration.
Referee Steve Bennett had no hesitation in giving Jeffers his marching orders.
Five minutes later Campbell appeared lucky to avoid a similar fate after kicking out at Djemba-Djemba.
Three minutes from time van Nistelrooy fired over from an impossible angle, and then Howard had to be out quickly to hack clear from the advancing Wiltord.
But with the scores level at the end of 90 minutes the game went to penalties.
Paul Scholes, Edu and Rio Ferdinand all scored as United took an early 2-1 edge.
But then Howard saved from Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Lehmann produced a brilliant stop to deny van Nistelrooy.
Wiltord, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Lauren and Diego Forlan all found the net to leave it 4-3 United with Pires to take.
And the Frenchman saw his shot saved by Howard to give United the first trophy of the domestic season.