Aston Villa earned a vital three points with a 1-0 win over Norwich in the Premier League, but it was Brad Guzan who stole all of the headlines.
The Villa keeper performed superbly throughout the entirety of the clash at Carrow Road—commanding his box when under pressure, claiming numerous corners when his side were under the cosh, producing a fine save from Robert Snodgrass at the death and, in typical Guzan fashion, denying the opposition from the penalty spot.
The hosts were awarded a penalty after just five minutes when Villa defender Ciaran Clark handled inside the penalty area. Snodgrass stepped up to take the spot-kick but saw it expertly saved by the American custodian who sprung to his left, beating the ball away to safety.
And it’s not the first time that Guzan has come to Villa’s rescue. In fact, since his move from MLS side Chivas USA in 2008, Guzan has earned a name for himself as Villa’s penalty hero.
The 29-year-old initially stepped out of first-choice keeper Brad Friedel’s shadow during the Birmingham club’s run to the League Cup final in 2009—showcasing his talent at repelling his opponent from 12 yards in the win over Sunderland as Villa reached the quarter-finals.
Guzan saved Kenwyne Jones’ second-half penalty and then a further three more in the shootout, palming away efforts from Andy Reid, Lorik Cana and Jordan Henderson.
We deserved to go through but their goalkeeper's had one of them nights he's going to remember for the rest of his life. He was excellent.
It wasn’t just a one off, however, with Guzan getting the better of a number of English football’s top penalty takers over recent years.
According to TransferMarkt, since Guzan’s move across the Atlantic he has saved eight of his 22 penalties faced—that’s one stop in every 2.75 attempts.
In comparison with the Villa man, Iker Casillas, who many consider to be the world’s greatest goalkeeper, has saved 25 of his 54 penalties faced—a ratio of one in every 2.16.
Of course, Casillas has been around the block and has been performing at the very highest level for well over a decade and has earned his name as one of football’s greatest stoppers, so it would be unfair to compare the two—especially considering the chasm separating them in terms of experience and exposure.
Casillas’ rival—in terms of a spot in Spain’s national side—Pepe Reina, however, despite his vast experience doesn’t fare as well in spot-kicks as Guzan. The Liverpool man, on loan at Napoli, has denied opponents on 15 of the 43 occasions—a ratio of one save in every 2.86 attempts.
A consideration as one of world football’s greatest keepers requires more than a presence in between the sticks and an uncanny ability to guess right from 12 yards, but if form over recent years is anything to go by, then Guzan is definitely the man I’d trust with the gloves when it comes to saving a penalty.
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