Japan's first FIFA trophy, Paraguay's unlikely path into the Copa America semi-finals and the form of Guangzhou Evergrande and Sligo Rovers make FIFA.com's latest statistical review
years after their first attempt, at the Men's Olympic Football Tournament in Berlin, Japan finally lifted their maiden FIFA trophy on Sunday. And what towering odds Norio Sasaki and his charges overcame to win the sixth FIFA Women's World Cup™. Indeed, the Japan and USA women's teams had met 25 times going into the Frankfurt showpiece, with the Americans emerging victorious on 22 occasions and three contests ending all square, while the East Asian nation had lost all three of their finals in FIFA competitions (to Spain in the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 1999, France in the FIFA Confederations Cup two years later, and Korea Republic in the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup ten months ago). However, after scoring late equalisers in the second half of both normal and extra time to draw 2-2, the reflexes of goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori helped the Nadeshiko win 3-1 on penalties to bring euphoria to a country devastated by the earthquake and tsunami disasters earlier this year. In the process, Japan became the first team to lose a match – 2-0 to England in the group stage in their case – and go on to win the FIFA Women's World Cup.
league matches unbeaten is the run Guangzhou Evergrande continued by overwhelming Nanchang Hengyuan 5-0 last Thursday. Lee Jang-Soo's side avoided defeat in their last 21 outings en route to the Chinese League One crown last year, and having won 12 and drawn four of their 16 Super League outings this term, they find themselves nine points clear of second-placed Beijing Guo'an just past the halfway stage. Dario Conca, the uncapped Argentinian whom Guangzhou recently signed on to the third-highest salary in world football, behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, was on target in their latest victory - their seventh straight - while Muriqui scored his fifth goal in four games and Cleo made it five in as many appearances. No team has ever won the Super League with fewer than two losses, which Shenzhen Jianlibao managed in the 22-round inaugural 2004 campaign.
is the number of unanswered goals Sligo Rovers scored against Galway United on Saturday for their biggest away win in 75 years – and is also the number of successive clean sheets they have now registered this season. The 26-year-old Matthew Blinkhorn's first-ever hat-trick, which took his tally to six goals in his last three games, was key to the thumping, while Eoin Doyle's double took him on to five goals in four appearances as Paul Cook's side stayed one point clear of record 16-time champions Shamrock Rovers at the League of Ireland Premier Division summit. Following a 2-1 loss at St Patrick's Athletic on 26 May, Brendan Clarke was reinstalled between the Sligo sticks, and thereafter the 25-year-old has gone the full 720 minutes without leaking a goal during six victories and two draws. Sligo, famous for seducing the legendary Dixie Dean to the Republic of Ireland in 1939, are chasing their third league crown and first since 1977. As for Galway, they have now lost their last 17 league matches, conceding an average of 4.4 per game over their last eight, and sit six points adrift of second-bottom Drogheda United.
matches without victory and that same number devoid of their first away win in Major League Soccer were statistics Portland Timbers arrested on Saturday. Since a 1-0 success at home to Columbus Crew on 21 May, the team managed by John Spencer, the former Chelsea and Scotland forward, had taken just one point from a possible 21, while they had failed to triumph on the road at all in their debut season in the competition. However, a Jack Jewsbury penalty and some fine goalkeeping from Troy Perkins proved enough to edge Chicago Fire and lift the Timbers to within two points of the play-off qualification places.
wins during the Copa America 2011 is what Paraguay will carry into their semi-final tonight. Gerardo Martino's men drew their three Group B matches – 0-0 with Ecuador, 2-2 with Brazil and 3-3 with Venezuela – to scrape into the last eight as one of the three best third-placed teams, before 120 goalless minutes against Mano Menezes' side sent their quarter-final to penalties. Since a Tulio miss gifted Uruguay the trophy in the 1995 decider, A Seleção had won three straight shoot-outs in the competition, scoring 14 out of 16 spot-kicks in the process. However, Elano, Thiago Silva, Andre Santos and Fred spurned all of the five-time world champions' attempts, enabling La Albirroja to emerge 2-0 victors and book a date with the Venezuelans, who made the semi-finals for the first time in their history. Brazil ended the 21st century unbeaten in 15 games against Paraguay, but the sides have won four of their last 11 encounters apiece.