The spectacular conclusion to UEFA EURO 2012 dominates FIFA.com’s latest stats review, which also features an agonising failure in Chile and another landmark for a South Korean icon.
clean sheets was the milestone reached by Kim Byung-Ji last Wednesday as the veteran Gyeongnam goalkeeper further extended his record haul of K-League shutouts. The 42-year-old is the oldest active player in the South Korean top flight and, having reached the double-century in his team’s 3-0 win at Gangwon, he bolstered his tally yet further in a goalless draw with Incheon United on Saturday. Kim, in fact, has kept five clean sheets in his last seven appearances for mid-table Gyeongnam, and has another landmark very much in his sights. With 587 K-League appearances already to his name, the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™ veteran needs just 13 more to reach the 600-mark, and has 25 fixtures in which to realise that dream before the season is out.
appearances at FIFA World Cups and EUROs have enabled Gianluigi Buffon to surpass the benchmark set by legendary predecessor, Dino Zoff. Only two outfield players, Fabio Cannavaro (26) and Paolo Maldini (36), have played in more matches at major tournaments, although Buffon and Antonio Cassano both equalled Maldini and Alessandro Del Piero’s record of 13 EURO appearances by taking part in Sunday’s ill-fated final. Cassano also set a less desirable record when he was substituted for an unprecedented eighth time at the European finals, taking sole ownership of a record he previously shared with Dennis Bergkamp and Mario Gomez. Yet although the tournament ended in disappointment for Buffon, Cassano and co, they can still reflect with pride on having reached the final after inflicting Germany’s first defeat in 16 competitive matches.
misses in as many attempts was the penalty shoot-out performance that cost Chile’s O’Higgins their first-ever national title on Monday. The Rancagua outfit had been on the verge of ending their 57-year wait for a league championship, but a 92-minute goal from Universidad de Chile levelled the Apertura final on aggregate, taking it directly to penalties and its calamitous conclusion. O’Higgins’ zero per cent success rate meant that Universidad only needed to convert two of their three spot-kicks to secure the title, their third in a row and 16th overall. This latest success further strengthens the Santiago side’s position as Chile’s second-most successful team and edges them closer to Colo Colo’s record haul of 29.
unanswered goals against Italy on Sunday gave Spain the biggest margin of victory ever recorded in a FIFA World Cup or EURO final. La Roja also became the first European team in history to win three major tournaments in succession, and the first to retain the continental crown. They have also won each of the last 62 matches in which they have taken the lead, dating back to September 2006. Midfield conductor Xavi was again hugely influential for Vicente del Bosque’s side, claiming three assists against the Italians - the highest number ever recorded in a EURO final, eclipsing the two provided by West Germany's Rainer Bonhof in the 1976 decider against Czechoslovakia. Yet Spain’s success was as much indebted to their magnificent defensive record, with Sunday’s result having extended to 990 minutes their run without conceding in knockout matches at major tournaments. Iker Casillas also claimed a ninth EURO clean sheet, equalling Edwin van der Sar’s tournament record, in a match that witnessed the Real Madrid keeper become the first player in history to rack up 100 international victories.
goals was the relatively meagre mark on which six players - Mario Balotelli, Alan Dzagoev, Mario Gomez, Mario Mandzukic, Cristiano Ronaldo and Fernando Torres – ended EURO 2012 tied as the tournament’s top scorers. This is the joint-highest number of players to share the Golden Boot at a European Championship or FIFA World Cup, matched only by the 1962 world finals, which finished with a sextet of players - Florian Albert (Hungary), Garrincha and Vava (both Brazil), Valentin Ivanov (USSR), Drazan Jerkovic (Yugoslavia) and Leonel Sanchez (Chile) - all level on four goals. Nonetheless, although this European Championship was the first since 1992 in which no player accumulated more than three goals, it did create one positive scoring record, with Torres becoming the first player to find the net in two separate EURO finals.