Edwin van der Sar..

The secret to Edwin van der Sar's penalty save in 2008 Champions League final

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Football News

Manchester United marked their return to Moscow in style last week with a commanding 4-1 victory over CSKA.

It's a city that holds many great memories for Red Devils fans who witnessed their side conquer Chelsea in the Champions League final there in 2008.

The clash endures as one of the most dramatic Europeans finals, culminating in a nerve-shredding penalty shootout after Cristiano Ronaldo and Frank Lampard exchanged goals in regulation time.

However, it was the Blues who looked certain to claim the trophy as Petr Cech's save from Ronaldo gave John Terry the chance to end the gruelling clash.

And we all know what happened next.

The Chelsea captain's slip saw the affair enter sudden death with Nicolas Anelka eventually stepping up as the Blues' seventh taker.

Despite going onto garner the Premier League golden boot the next season and proving, in general, a very accomplished finisher, he couldn't beat Edwin van der Sar.

The Dutchman plunged to his right-hand side to beat away Anelka's tame effort and secure Sir Alex Ferguson's second Champions League title at Old Trafford.

Manchester United v Chelsea - UEFA Champions League Final

For any United fan, it's a goose-bump inducing moment as well as the defining moment of Van der Sar's career. Besides, he had suffered a very different penalty experience during the 1996 final as Juventus defeated Ajax by the narrowest of margins.

Perhaps his luck the second time can be attributed to his exhausting preparation in case of another shootout. And in an interview with FourFourTwo, the 46-year-old has reminisced on Anelka's spot kick plus the secret to the save.

He explained: “I remember studying a lot of Chelsea’s penalties on DVD before the match.

"So, for example, I think I probably analysed about 40 that Frank Lampard had taken in the past. I had made plenty of notes and noticed that Nicolas Anelka would almost always take his penalties to the goalkeeper’s right.

“Later on, I heard that Chelsea had also done their homework on me and learned that I usually dived to my right.

So I think their players were told to shoot to my left, which most of them did [they all did, bar Anelka]. I’d anticipated Anelka would shoot to the other side, and thankfully that is what happened.”

Manchester United v Chelsea - UEFA Champions League Final

Proof that there really is method behind the madness of penalties.

Not only was Van der Sar able to research his way into psyching out Chelsea but to read out their very own homework to predict Anelka's approach.

Do you think Manchester United are contenders for the Champions League this season? Have your say in the comments section below.

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