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2. U.S. ABROAD: Friedel's Blackburn wins UEFA Cup group
December 14th, 2006 12:10AM



American Brad Friedel was in goal as Blackburn Rovers shut out French club Nancy, 1-0, on Wednesday to win its UEFA Cup group.

The win in Europe was a welcome relief for Blackburn, which has struggled in the English Premier League with one win, one tie and six losses in its last eight games. Nancy had the better of play, but Blackburn won on Australian Lucas Neill's goal in stoppage time. Friedel made two big saves on shots by Nancy's Benjamin Gavanon -- one on Gavanon's chip from near the midfield line. Shortly before halftime, Friedel was spared when Brazilian striker Kim hit the crossbar.

By winning its group, Blackburn avoids the eight third-place Champions League teams that drop into the UEFA Cup when the draw for the round of 32 takes place on Friday.

Elsewhere in England on Wednesday, former U.S. U-17 resident Andrew Giallombardo made his debut for Southampton's U-18 team in a 3-2 victory over Ipswich.

The 5-foot-8 midfielder from Manalapan, N.J., played after receiving clearance from Britain's Home Office to join the Southampton academy program. The U-18s' coach, veteran Frenchman Georges Prost, said Giallombardo would be a "good boost for the team."

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