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 look at how two teams improbably kept their UEFA Champions League hopes alive, while also featuring Sir Bobby Robson, Christophe Gregoire and Jeff Cunningham.
goals is the tally that makes Jeff Cunningham the third-highest marksman in Major League Soccer history, after he was on target a career-best four times in FC Dallas's 6-0 reverse of Kansas City Wizards on Saturday. The 32-year-old, who turned out for Columbus Crew, Colorado Rapids, Real Salt Lake and Toronto FC before joining the Texas outfit, now trails only Jaime Moreno (128) and Ante Razov (114) on the competition's all-time scoring chart. As well as becoming only the ninth player to score four goals in an MLS game, Cunningham extended his record of player of the week awards to 11, two clear of Landon Donovan, Cobi Jones and Razov.
minutes existed between Christophe Gregoire becoming the maiden player in Eredivisie history to register both a season's first goal and red card. Despite failing to find the target in his two previous campaigns in the Dutch top flight, the Belgian midfielder took just three minutes to fire Willem II ahead en route to a 3-1 win at home to Vitesse. However, the 29-year-old was sent off in the second half.
seconds of action is how long Sporting were away from UEFA Champions League elimination last night, until an 11th-hour equaliser snatched them a 1-1 draw at Twente and a place in the play-off round on away goals. The rivals had drawn 0-0 in Lisbon in their first leg, and an early Douglas goal in the Netherlands looked to have sealed Steve McClaren's team victory. But with four minutes of injury time almost up, Sporting goalkeeper Rui Patricio raced up for a corner and from his header, Twente's Peter Wisgerhof inopportunely diverted the ball into his own net to render the home crowd distraught.
years and 93 days was the difference in age between the scorers at the Skagerak Arena on Sunday, when Odd Grenland and Rosenborg drew 1-1 in the Norwegian Tippeligaen. Nigerian Bentley, who recently turned 20, fired the former ahead before Roar Strand equalised at the age of 39 years and 181 days. The veteran midfielder made his Rosenborg debut in a 3-2 win over Sogndal on 30 April 1989, and, save for a brief loan spell with Molde in 1993, has spent his entire career with the club, helping them to 14 league titles in the process.
goals is the cushion Maccabi Haifa recovered to dramatically pip Aktobe to a place in the play-off round of the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League last night. Following a goalless draw in Kazakhstan in their third preliminary round, first leg, the Israeli champions fell 3-0 behind after just 15 minutes on home soil. However, with the away goals rule in operation, efforts from Yaniv Katan, Eyal Golasa and Vladimer Dvalishvili restored parity, before the latter's fourth goal in three games since joining Maccabi completed an improbable 4-3 success.
hours and 15 minutes is how long some football enthusiasts queued outside Newcastle United's St James' Park to pay tribute to Sir Bobby Robson, who passed away on Friday after a long battle against cancer. The north-east club opened their Leazers End stand for fans to pay tribute, and over 50,000 streamed through the gates to leave flowers, jerseys and banners in the few days that followed the former Magpies manager's death. When Robson's widow, Elsie, arrived to pay her respects, a chorus of ‘Walking in a Robson wonderland' fittingly erupted.