Rogerio Ceni, David Villa and Kevin Kilbane star as we reflect on a week in which a rare draw for Argentina and France’s plethora of skippers also caught the eye.
goals was the landmark reached in spectacular and dramatic style by Rogerio Ceni on Sunday. Already the highest-scoring goalkeeper in football history, the 37-year-old completed his century in fairy tale fashion with a superb match-winning free-kick in Sao Paulo’s 2-1 Majestoso derby victory over Corinthians. While the Tricolor Paulista legend’s tally is bolstered by a couple of goals in non-competitive matches, this latest stunning strike merely strengthens his position as the king of goalscoring goalies, increasing his lead over Jose Luis Chilavert, who retired with 67. The goals may make him stand out among his contemporaries, but free-kicks and penalties are by no means the only speciality of a keeper called upon to represent his country on 17 occasions, earning FIFA World Cup™ and FIFA Confederations Cup winners' medals in the process. However, it is undeniably in the colours of his beloved Sao Paulo that Rogerio’s career has been defined, with this one-club man having won two Copa Libertadores, one Intercontinental Cup and one FIFA Club World Cup over a Tricolor career that spans 20 years and 928 appearances.
goals in 72 matches is David Villa’s updated international tally after the Barcelona striker eclipsed Raul as Spain’s all-time leading goalscorer. A match-winning brace against Czech Republic enabled Villa to take an outright hold of the record and add another honour in a career that has seen him finish leading marksman at UEFA EURO 2008, joint-top scorer at last year’s FIFA World Cup and hit at least 15 goals in each of his ten seasons in La Liga. Friday’s 2-1 win in Granada was also a landmark occasion for Xavi, who celebrated earning his 100th cap in inimitable style, making 136 passes - 22 more than the entire Czech Republic team. As well as becoming only the second outfield player, after Raul, to reach a century of Spain appearances, Xavi - who last night scored on his 101st appearance - also helped his team extend their world record streak of 19 successive victories in EURO and FIFA World Cup qualifiers. La Roja can also boast of having lost just one of their 49 competitive matches over the past two decades.
games without a draw was the unusual run of results that came to an end for Argentina in New Jersey on Sunday. This lengthy sequence, which spanned two and a half years, 24 wins and eight defeats, was finally brought to a halt when USA held La Albiceleste to their first stalemate since an identical 1-1 result against Peru in September 2008. And ironically, the player who earned them a share of the spoils on Sunday, Esteban Cambiasso, did so with his first international goal since, you guessed it, that 1-1 draw in Lima 30 months ago. Another notable aspect of Sunday’s friendly in East Rutherford was the attendance, with a whopping crowd of 78,936 turning out to set a new record for a soccer match at the New Meadowlands Stadium.
years and five months have now passed since Republic of Ireland kicked off a competitive match without Kevin Kilbane in their starting line-up. That run was extended Saturday when the 34-year-old played his 65th consecutive international in a 2-1 win over FYR Macedonia. Kilbane has earned 109 caps, more than any outfield player in the Republic’s history, and bolstering that haul on Saturday left him just one short of the injured Shay Given’s record tally. New benchmarks were also being set elsewhere, meanwhile, with Wesley Sneijder, at 26 years and 289 days of age, becoming the youngest player to reach 75 Netherlands caps, while Stiliyan Petrov became the first outfield player to complete a century of Bulgaria appearances.
different players - Alou Diarra, Hugo Lloris, Florent Malouda, Philippe Mexes and Samir Nasri - have already captained France during Laurent Blanc’s brief, nine-match reign. Nasri became the latest to lead out Les Bleus on Friday and, whatever the reasoning behind this rotation of the armband, it seems to be contributing to the team’s most successful run in years. France’s latest success, a 2-0 victory over Luxembourg, was their sixth in succession, a sequence that - even after being ended by last night's 0-0 draw against Croatia - bettered anything achieved during Raymond Domenech’s six-year stint and represented Les Bleus’ best run since a 14-match winning streak between March 2003 and May 2004. Victory in Luxembourg also enabled the French to maintain a proud away record in EURO preliminaries, with their last 26 qualifiers on the road having yielded just one defeat: a 1-0 loss to Scotland in October 2006.