The Brazil 2014 qualifiers provide the focus for FIFA.com’s latest stats review, with individual feats from the likes of Son Heungmin, Adrian Mutu and Sergio Ramos featuring alongside the fortunes of two likely title contenders.
goals was the milestone reached by the Netherlands on Friday – 108 years on from their first – with their final strike in the 3-0 win over Estonia. Feyenoord’s Ruben Schaken claimed the landmark effort in just his third international appearance, but the star of the Oranje’s back-to-back qualifying wins was a former Rotterdam hero. Robin Van Persie scored three times over the two matches against Romania and the Estonians to boost his international tally to 34, taking him beyond the great Johan Cruyff and to within six goals of Patrick Kluivert’s record. At the other end, the Dutch have now kept clean sheets in each of their last 11 home FIFA World Cup qualifiers, with their last goal against coming from Finland’s Teemu Tainio in 2004. The win over Romania was also their 13th in succession in the preliminary competition, a record that only West Germany – with 16 between 1969 and 1985 – can better.
minutes were on the clock yesterday when Son Heungmin struck a dramatic winner as Korea Republic edged Qatar 2-1. Unsurprisingly, the goal was the latest scored in regulation time during the Asian Zone’s qualifiers for Brazil 2014. While Son was the hero in Seoul, Sydney rose to acclaim Tim Cahill, whose trademark header helped spark an Australian comeback against Oman. The New York Red Bulls forward’s goal was his 27th for the Socceroos, bringing him level with John Aloisi in joint-third in the all-time standings and leaving him needing just two more to equal record-holder Damian Mori. It was also vital in securing a 2-2 draw that extends Australia’s unbeaten home record to 16 matches, one short of their best-ever sequence.
international goals was the landmark reached by Romania's Adrian Mutu on Friday, equalling the legendary Gheorghe Hagi's record tally. It was the 34-year-old’s first goal for his country in 21 months. There were also notable milestones for two of the game’s great goalkeepers elsewhere in the European Zone, with Gianluigi Buffon winning his 126th cap against Malta last night to rise to second – behind only Fabio Cannavaro (136) – in Italy’s all-time standings. Petr Cech, meanwhile, made his 100th appearance for Czech Republic, leaving the Chelsea keeper trailing only record-holder Karel Poborsky (118).
years and 358 days was the age at which Sergio Ramos became the youngest European player to accumulate 100 caps on Friday. Ramos eclipsed Lukas Podolski in the continental standings by 21 days, although the global record is still held by Korea Republic legend Cha Bum-Kun, who was just 139 days past his 24th birthday when he reached the century-mark. Nor was the Real Madrid defender the only Spaniard celebrating a record last week. In taking charge of his 69th match as Spain coach, Vicente Del Bosque set a new record, surpassing the previous benchmark of 68 set by Ladislao Kubala. Del Bosque and Ramos upped their tallies to 70 and 101 respectively against France last night, as Spain extended to 50 matches their unbeaten run in FIFA World Cup qualifying. It is now 20 years since Denmark inflicted La Roja’s last qualifying loss, winning 1-0 thanks to Flemming Povlsen’s solitary goal.
games without a win is the run currently being endured by Brazil after draws against both Italy and Russia over the past week. Ironically, this represents the 2014 FIFA World Cup hosts’ worst run since 2001, during Luiz Felipe Scolari’s previous term as coach. The fact that that particular winless streak was followed by glory in Japan and Korea the following year is likely to calm Brazilian nerves, and so too should the scoring form of Fred. The Fluminense striker has now found the net in each of his last four matches, the best Seleção sequence since Rivaldo scored in five successive games at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. As for Brazil's opponents, Russia appear to be thriving under Fabio Capello, who is now unbeaten in his last 17 international matches. Italy, meanwhile, can take pride in becoming the first team to come back from two goals down against the South American giants in 14 years, since the Netherlands secured an identical 2-2 draw in June 1999.