International action dominates FIFA.com’s latest stats review, which includes goalscoring feats by Lionel Messi, Brazil and a Bosnian duo as well as less welcome records for Austria and Steven Gerrard.
goals in 2012 was the tally Lionel Messi reached on Friday, meaning that he has already equalled his 2011 haul – in 25 fewer matches. The Barcelona star needed 70 appearances for club and country to reach this total last year, whereas it has taken him just 45 this time, making for an average of 1.3 goals per game. Messi now needs just one more goal to emulate his best-ever performance in a calendar year: 60 goals over the course of 2010. The 25-year-old would have dearly loved to reach that landmark in Peru last night, but he failed to score for the first time in seven appearances for Argentina. He had gone into the match having scored ten times in his previous six outings, becoming the first Albiceleste star since Hernan Crespo 11 years before to find the net in six successive internationals.
years and 104 days was the age at which Steven Gerard claimed an unwanted record last night by becoming the oldest player ever to be sent off for England. The red card was the first of the Liverpool midfielder’s 98-match international career, and the Three Lions as a whole received five yellows – their worst disciplinary performance in any match since a tempestuous ‘Auld Enemy’ duel with Scotland in November 1999. It was only a penalty from Gerrard’s midfield colleague, Frank Lampard, which secured England a 1-1 draw against Ukraine – and prevented Roy Hodgson becoming just the second England manager to lose his first home competitive match. The former West Bromwich Albion boss would have been in good company though; his only predecessor to suffer this indignity was Sir Alf Ramsey, the mastermind behind England’s sole FIFA World Cup™ success.
goals is the tally that has established Edin Dzeko as Bosnia-Herzegovina’s all-time leading scorer. The Zmajevi’s opening two Brazil 2014 qualifiers, in which they scored 12 goals, witnessed the Manchester City striker vie with Zvjezdan Misimovic for this title, which until Friday had belonged to the retired Elvir Bolic. Misimovic briefly held the record at half-time against Liechtenstein, having set his team on the road to an 8-1 win with a brace, but a second-half hat-trick from Dzeko enabled him to leapfrog into top spot. And while Misimovic again scored twice last night in a 4-1 in Latvia to temporarily claim a joint share in the record, Dzeko struck in injury time to take sole possession – for now at least. Vedad Ibisevic had also got in on the act for Bosnia with three goals against Liechtenstein, making this match the first European Zone FIFA World Cup qualifier to witness two hat-tricks since Johan Vonlanthen and Alexander Rey equally shared Switzerland’s goals in a 6-0 win over the Faroe Islands in 2004.
players from the German Bundesliga lined up against their adopted country last night, outnumbering the division's eight representatives in Germany’s ranks. Austria’s hopes of turning any ‘inside knowledge’ into a win were dashed, though, as the visitors secured a 2-1 win that maintains a long-established stranglehold in this fixture. This, indeed, was Germany’s eighth successive win over their south-easterly neighbours, and maintained an unbeaten run that stretches back 26 years to a Toni Polster-inspired 4-1 defeat in October 1986. Die Nationalelf also maintained their proud record of never having lost a FIFA World Cup qualifier abroad, having won 28 and drawn the other ten of their away preliminary matches thus far.
goals was the margin by which Brazil beat China PR on Monday to record their biggest win in almost seven years. Not since an identical 8-0 thrashing of United Arab Emirates in November 2005 have A Seleção triumphed in such resounding fashion, and for a time it appeared that the nation’s all-time record scoreline might even be under threat. As it is, that honour still belongs to a 10-1 win over Bolivia in the 1949 South American Championship (now known as the Copa America) and a 9-0 drubbing of Colombia in the same tournament eight years later, a game in which Evaristo de Macedo scored five. Monday’s win nonetheless took its place at fourth in the list of Brazil’s biggest-ever wins, and it was all the more impressive as China had gone into the match with an impressive recent defensive record. The Asian side had, in fact, conceded just four times in their previous six ‘A’ internationals – a run of fixtures that had included meetings with Ghana, Sweden and world champions Spain.