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Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Van der Sar delighted with clean sheet record

Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar set a new English top-flight record for clean sheets when the champions crushed West Bromwich Albion 5-0 at the Hawthorns on Tuesday.

The Dutchman has gone 1,032 minutes without having to pick the ball out of his net in the Premier League, beating the previous record of 1,025 set by Chelsea's Petr Cech in 2004-05.

"The most important thing is the win, but of course it is great for the team to get the record. I just needed to keep the concentration levels high and fire up the defenders and midfielders," Van der Sar told the BBC.

"When I saw 85 minutes on the clock I was happy but the most important thing was that we got the three points."

In keeping an 11th consecutive league clean sheet, the 38-year-old Van der Sar also helped United set a new top-flight record, edging past the 10 in a row racked up by Chelsea in the same season.

The last time United's defence was breached in the league was in the 48th minute of their 2-1 defeat by Arsenal when Samir Nasri scored and manager Alex Ferguson paid tribute to his injury-hit back line.

"I am proud of them. They have been fantastic in this run," Ferguson said. "Edwin van der Sar has had a fantastic career, but he was really pleased to get this record. You look at him and what happened has really thrilled him."

Van der Sar celebrated with a raised fist at the end but his hopes of edging past Cech were nearly ended early in the second half when West Brom's Ryan Donk struck the woodwork.

United's miserly defensive record is all the more impressive considering they have been without the likes of England's Rio Ferdinand and Frenchman Patrice Evra in recent weeks.

Other clean sheet records...

GERALDO PEREIRA DE MATOS FILHO: Between May 1977 and September 1978, the Vasco da Gama stopper also known as Mazaropi did not concede a goal for an amazing 1,816 minutes - the equivalent of 20 matches and 16 minutes. However, the validity of the Brazilian's record has been questioned given some of the matches took place at regional level.

DANY VERLINDEN: If Mazaropi's shut-out is of questionable credibility, there are no such doubts over the record of the now retired Belgian keeper known as 'The Wall'. From March 3 to September 26, 1990 the Club Brugge stopper's goal was not breached over 1,390 minutes of action - or very nearly 15 and a half games.

ABEL RESINO: Van der Sar still has some work to do if he wants to beat Abel, who made it to 1,274 minutes without conceding while playing for Atletico Madrid from November 1990 to March 1991. The Spaniard stands 242 minutes ahead of Van der Sar following United's 5-0 victory over West Brom last night.

PETR CECH: An honourable mention must go to the man Van der Sar has surpassed. The Czech went more than 1,000 minutes without letting anything past him during his time with Sparta Prague before reaching 1,025 for Chelsea in the Premier League during the 2004-05 campaign. Norwich's Leon McKenzie was the man to end his streak at Carrow Road on March 5, 2005.

DINO ZOFF: In the international game, Italy's 1982 World Cup-winning captain leads the way after 1,142 minutes without picking the ball from his net from September 1972 to June 1974. His countryman Walter Zenga holds the World Cup finals best of 518, set during the tournaments of 1986 and 1990.

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