- The Washington Times - Monday, August 3, 2009

SEVILLE, Spain | One of the defining landmarks in this colorful city is the Golden Tower, an ancient castle-like structure that stands guard over the main river and was said to store the gold that the Conquistadors brought from the Americas. There’s no gold there now.

A few miles away Sunday night, plenty of gold was being handed out at Olympic Stadium, where English club Aston Villa beat Italian giant Juventus 4-3 on penalty kicks after a scoreless draw to win the Peace Cup and $2.8 million in prize money.

American goalie Brad Guzan was the hero: He saved penalty kicks from Vincenzo Iaquinta and Italian legend Alessandro Del Piero following a scoreless extra time. Guzan was making his third consecutive start over countryman Brad Friedel, and the youngster showed he has a strong future with Villa.

“I think he has had an excellent tournament,” Villa coach Martin O’Neill said.

Guzan joined his club for the Peace Cup after getting some needed rest following his time with the U.S. national team at the Confederations Cup in South Africa.

“He joined up with us not more than 10 days ago, and his performance in the three games here [has] been wonderful,” O’Neill said. “He is living up to all the expectations that have been thrust upon him.”

Barry Bannan, Shane Lowry, Ashley Young and Carlos Cuellar all converted their kicks to give Villa the win. Steve Sidwell missed his kick, and Chris Herd’s shot was saved.

David Trezeguet, Amauri and Felipe Melo converted for the Italians, but Nicola Legrottaglie’s final kick was too high and gave Villa the upset.

Villa became the second English team to win the event, joining London club Tottenham Hotspur in 2005.

Striker Ashley Young nearly gave Villa the lead after 28 minutes, forcing Juventus goalie Gianluigi Buffon to make a fine save. Midfielder Marc Albrighton had the best chance before the break, firing a rocket at Buffon, who punched it away. Then Juventus left back Cristian Molinaro gave Villa a scare with a header.

It was scoreless at halftime, but the young Villa side looked brighter. After the break, Trezeguet missed a sitter from 6 yards for the Turin club. Guzan was forced to make two big saves as Villa’s defense fell into chaos. The Italians were starting to find holes, but Villa stayed firm against the Serie A club.

Notes - American defender Eric Lichaj made his fourth start for Villa in the event and played every minute. …

Villa owner Randy Lerner, who also owns the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, flew in for the match. …

The Peace Cup is sponsored by the Sunmoon Peace Football Foundation, a corporate sister of The Washington Times.

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