In many ways, football is a simple game: the team that scores the most goals wins. Yet in every single match, there are intriguing statistical sub-plots that help make the beautiful game the fascinating spectacle that it is. That's why, each week, FIFA.com takes a look at the numbers behind the results.
South America dominates this week's review thanks to Ronaldo's goalscoring return, Lisandro Lopez's UEFA Champions League exploits and Estudiantes's home record, but there is also room for a look at Boubacar Sanogo's bad luck and Jose Mourinho's record against Sir Alex Ferguson.
matches and almost two years had passed since Estudiantes de La Plata's last home league defeat when Dario Ocampo brought this remarkable run to an end on Saturday. Not since Boca Juniors emerged with all three points on 10 March 2007 had Los Pincharratas suffered a domestic reverse at the Estadio Unico Ciudad de La Plata, with their only home loss during this period having come against Internacional in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana 2008 final. Velez Sarsfield were the team to bring this long unblemished sequence to a shuddering halt, with Ocampo's decisive 36th-minute strike securing a win that lifted El Fortin to within a point of leaders Lanus, and left Estudiantes languishing third from bottom.
months after notching what many feared would be the final goal of a glorious career, Ronaldo returned to scoring ways in typically dramatic fashion on Sunday. The three-time former FIFA World Player of the Year, who was making only his second substitute appearance since battling back from a career-threatening knee injury, defied the doubters once again by popping up in the second minute of injury time to earn Corinthians a 1-1 draw with arch-rivals Palmeiras. A capacity crowd of 45,000 was inside the Prudentao stadium to watch the 32-year-old celebrate his first goal since 13 January 2008, when he was on target in AC Milan's 5-2 win over Napoli. Now the man whose 15 FIFA World Cup™ strikes make him the competition's all-time leading goalscorer has targeted a return to the Brazil fold, insisting: "This is just the beginning."
showdowns have taken place between Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho during the careers of these managerial titans and, ahead of tonight's rematch, the Manchester United manager has emerged triumphant on just one occasion. While Fergie will be desperate to put this record straight, Mourinho's unshakeable self-confidence is sure to be boosted by the memory of the six wins and six draws he has racked up against the Red Devils during his spells in charge of Porto, Chelsea and now Inter Milan. Although Inter begin this evening's match as underdogs against a side unbeaten in their last 20 matches in Europe's elite club competition, Mourinho will also be aware that the last four Champions League winners - Porto, Liverpool, Barcelona and AC Milan - have fallen at this exact stage of the tournament the season after lifting the trophy.
shots against the woodwork in a goalless draw would seem unlucky enough, but when those efforts are by the same player, against the same post, in the exact same location, the misfortune becomes difficult to believe. "Ridiculous" was how Hoffenheim's Boubacar Sanogo described his fate after he had struck the base of the left-hand post on three separate occasions during the German title hopefuls' stalemate with Werder Bremen. The feat, which was without precedent in the Bundesliga, made the Ivorian a reluctant record-breaker, and was all the more ironic for the fact that he only recently joined Hoffenheim on loan - from Bremen! Sanogo's bad luck certainly contributed to an unlikely scoreline, with the corresponding fixture earlier this season having ended 5-4 in Werder's favour.
Champions League goals have established Lisandro Lopez among the tournament's top scorers, one behind Messrs Gerrard and Klose, and given the Porto striker the chance to take his place in history. In the European Cup's 54-year history, no Argentinian has ever finished as its leading marksman, with Alfredo Di Stefano only topping the competition's scoring charts after he had become a Spanish international. Indeed, the last Argentinian to finish as top scorer in a European competition was Mario Kempes, who fired Valencia to glory in the 1979/80 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. Fellow countryman Pedro Manfredini had blazed a trail by this point, twice finishing top scorer in the UEFA Cup with Roma in 1960/61 and 1962/63. Now the task of conquering Europe's top club competition falls to Lisandro and another auspicious contender, Lionel Messi.