There aren’t many times that Edwin van der Sar can claim to have down something new in football given his illustrious career – but the Dutch goalkeeper admits that his heroics on Wednesday night were the first time he has saved two penalties in a game.
Fulham’s number one modestly admits that he has not been particularly good at saving penalties in the past but van der Sar, who signed a contract extension at Craven Cottage last month, produced two brilliant stops to deny Juan Pablo Angel from twelve yards and keep Villa’s lead to a single goal. They were rescued both by those saves and skipper Lee Clark’s late leveller at the other end.
van der Sar told Fulham’s official website:
“I’ve saved a few penalties before. But never two in a game. I’m not known as a penalty-killer in Holland, but it shows that I’m still learning and capable of improving myself. They were both quite similar really. For the first one I tried to judge how he was running up to the ball and I went completely to the right – he hit it well, it went low and I think I reacted well to get to it with my hands.
He took exactly the same run up for the second so I went the same way. Sometimes you think you can see which way it’s going to go and you make your mind up beforehand, but there have been plenty of other times where I’ve gone to my right and they’ve put it to the left!”
Of course you are delighted to save the penalties but if it hadn’t been for the goal from Clarky no one would have wanted to talk to me. To be fair I don’t think we deserved a great deal from the game, but at least we got the draw. We seem to be able to keep pushing until the end now – we’ve had quite a few stoppage time goals recently, and that’s a good sign for the team. I would prefer that we were playing better football and maybe taking a few more chances earlier, but the game isn’t finished until the end.
Before, we were conceding too many late-on, and now we’ve scored four in the last minutes. It’s brought us points, and in the position we’re in, we’ll take every point we can get. Importantly, that point meant that Villa haven’t got any further away from us – although we would have preferred to beat them, because it’s important that we start winning all our home games. I don’t think we will be relegated now, but we must push on and home draws aren’t good enough. We’ve had a good record against the teams at the bottom recently, now we must do it against the teams in the top half of the table.”