One man scoring his first goal in his 15th year as a professional and another breaking the three-quarters-of-a-century barrier in less than 12 months make FIFA.com’s latest stats review, along with an English centurion, a Swedish masterclass, and France and Houston Dynamo establishing long unbeaten sequences.
caps is what Steven Gerrard became only the sixth Englishman to win on Wednesday. The 32-year-old, who earlier this month became the tenth player to reach 600 appearances for Liverpool, emulated Billy Wright (105), Bobby Charlton (106), Bobby Moore (108), Peter Shilton (125) and David Beckham (115) by running out for the inaugural match at Sweden’s Friends Arena. Gerrard set up debutant Steven Caulker to register his 20th assist for his country and put them 2-1 up, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic went on to score four goals - becoming the first man since Dutchman Marco van Basten at UEFA EURO 1988 to net a hat-trick against England - and earn Erik Hamren’s team a 4-2 victory. It was only the second time in 95 appearances as an international coach that a Roy Hodgson team conceded more than three times – the first was when his United Arab Emirates charges lost 4-1 to Bahrain in 2003.
goals in 2012 is what Lionel Messi moved onto on Sunday, taking him second on the list of all-time highest-scoring players in a calendar year. A brace for Barcelona in their 4-2 win over Mallorca elevated the 25-year-old above Pele, who hit 75 goals for Santos and Brazil in 1958. Messi failed to add to his tally in his 60th appearance of the year – Argentina’s goalless draw with Saudi Arabia – leaving him nine shy of the record Bayern Munich and West Germany’s Gerd Muller set in 1972.
years is France’s unbeaten run away to Italy after Didier Deschamps’ men won 2-1 there on Wednesday evening. When a Jose Altafini double earned La Nazionale a 2-1 win in May 1962, it was their ninth successive reverse of Les Bleus in front of their own supporters. Thereafter, however, the French have won two and drawn two on Italian soil. Cesare Prandelli’s side have now lost their last five friendlies, with the latest defeat ending the country’s 100 per cent record in Parma in their sixth appearance there. Mathieu Valbuena and substitute Bafetimbi Gomis were the visitors’ marksmen at the Stadio Ennio Tardini – France have never lost a game the former has started, winning six and drawing two.
years and almost 400 appearances is what Sydney FC’s Pascal Bosschaart had to wait for the first league goal of his career on Saturday. The Dutchman, who can play at centre-back or as a defensive midfielder, made his professional debut for Utrecht in 1998, but failed to make the score-sheet in six seasons with them, two with Feyenoord and five with ADO Den Haag. Yet, in his first game since tearing an Achilles tendon in March, Bosschaart produced a stunning 48th-minute volley to break his duck and put Sydney, whom he joined last year, 2-0 up at home to fierce rivals Melbourne Victory. That’s how it remained until 21,531 were left silenced when the visitors netted three times in the last 13 minutes to snatch a comeback success in ‘The Big Blue’. Nineteen-year-old Andrew Nabbout, a mechanical engineering student who sat his final exam at RMIT University just two days earlier, rose from the bench to bag twice, either side of an Archie Thompson effort. The result prompted Ian Crook to resign as coach of Sydney after just six matches.
home defeats in 21 matches is what Houston Dynamo will finish 2012 with after signing off at BBVA Compass Stadium in style on Sunday. Dominic Kinnear’s team beat DC United 3-1 in the first leg of the Eastern Conference final, leaving them with one foot in the MLS Cup, which they cannot host due to having an inferior regular-season record than both Western Conference finalists, Los Angeles Galaxy and Seattle Sounders. Houston emerged victorious in 13 of their 19 MLS games in Texas – a single-season record for home victories in the competition – and drew the other six, while they also went unbeaten there in their two CONCACAF Champions League outings of the year. The Dynamo have now gone 30 matches unbeaten at home in all competitions, just four shy of the all-time record Real Salt Lake set between 2009 and ’11.