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.
This week, we celebrate the return of international football to Iraq and pay tribute to USA's impressive home record, while also reflecting on a week to remember for Atletico Mineiro, Oita Trinita and Molde star Mame Biram Diouf.
matches and eight years have now passed since USA were last beaten at home in a competitive fixture. The Americans' only loss on US soil during this time came in a 2007 friendly against Brazil, while their last competitive defeat came all the way back on 1 September 2001, when Honduras claimed a 3-2 FIFA World Cup™ qualifying win. The subsequent sequence, which comprises 45 wins and 11 draws, looked to be coming to an end on Sunday, with USA 2-1 down against Haiti heading into the final seconds of injury time. Stuart Holden had other ideas, however, and his stunning last-gasp volley not only salvaged a draw, but also secured top spot in Group B at the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
straight defeats have left Japan's Oita Trinita with the longest losing sequence in world football - and left their erstwhile coach out of a job. Brazilian Pericles Raimundo Oliveira, who led the club to a shock triumph in last season's J.League Cup, yesterday paid the price for a dreadful start to the season that has left Oita anchored to the foot of the table with one win, one draw and 15 defeats from their opening 17 fixtures. While 11 points separate Oita from second-bottom Kashiwa Reysol, the gap at the top is almost as significant, with defending champions Kashima Antlers still eight points clear of the chasing pack.
wins and two draws from their last 12 Minas derbies was the record with which Cruzeiro entered Sunday's showdown with old foes Atletico Mineiro. All they needed to do was avoid defeat at home to equal the longest-ever unbeaten record in the fixture, set by Atletico during the 1980s. Instead, with their team selection reflecting a preoccupation with the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final, A Raposa crashed to an emphatic 3-0 loss. O Galo's success was facilitated by Cruzeiro forward Ze Luis, who collected the fastest red card in the history of the Brasileirao after just 12 seconds. Thereafter, Junior, Alessandro and Eder Luis were all on target as Atletico regained pole position in the league and left their fierce rivals teetering on the edge of the relegation zone.
years after they last played on home soil, Iraq celebrated their international homecoming in style with resounding back-to-back wins over Palestine. The northern town of Irbil played host to the first of these hugely symbolic matches on Friday, bringing to an end a period of exile that stretched all the way back to a 2-1 win over Syria on 22 July 2002. The Iraqi players also succeeded in producing a performance worthy of this historic occasion, claiming a comprehensive 3-0 win and then bettering that scoreline by putting four unanswered goals past the Palestinians in Bagdad two days later. Over 50,000 fans turned out to watch the latter encounter, leaving no doubt that Iraq's appetite for the beautiful game remains as strong as ever.
goals in 27 minutes from Mame Biram Diouf kept Molde firmly in the hunt for the Norwegian title and confirmed their young Senegalese striker's status as a player well worth watching. The tall, pacy 21-year-old has been linked with a string of Europe's top clubs since arriving in Norway in 2007 and his burgeoning reputation will have only been strengthened by the role he played in Molde's 5-2 win over Brann. Diouf, who is the Norwegian top flight's top scorer this season with 12 goals, broke the deadlock after just 22 seconds, completed his hat-trick inside nine minutes and effectively ended the match as a contest just 18 minutes later. The win kept Molde four points off the pace in the Tippeligaen title race, although leaders Rosenborg have a game in hand and remain unbeaten after 17 rounds of fixtures.