History has been made in Buenos Aires, Maseru, Port Harcourt, Vilnius and Yerevan. It all features in FIFA.com’s latest stats review, along with Qatari shutouts and an on-song Chilean.
years to the month after their first bid ended, Albania finally reached a major tournament at the 23rd time of asking. Gianni De Biasi’s rank outsiders began their UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying campaign beneath each one of their Group I rivals on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking – and with a stunning 1-0 success in Portugal. They entered their final outing on Sunday requiring victory away to Armenia to pip Denmark to second spot, which they secured by scoring three unanswered goals to equal their biggest-ever competitive win. Innumerable fans lined the streets to greet the players on their return home, with heroes waving to worshippers from an open-topped bus en route to a celebratory party at the home of elated Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, who revealed that everyone who contributed to the success will be rewarded with the country’s highest medal of honour.
shots on target in 15 hours is remarkably all England allowed against them during EURO qualifying – fewer than the next-best by ten. That helped the Three Lions record ten consecutive competitive victories for the first time in their history and reach France with the only 100 per cent record. Roy Hodgson’s side are now unbeaten in 15 games in all competitions since a 2-1 loss to Uruguay at 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.
goals in five games is what Alexis Sanchez has bagged to bubble Arsenal’s English Premier League title challenge and inspire Chile to a flying start to Russia 2018 qualifying. The 26-year-old arrived for international duty having struck six times in his last three appearances for the Gunners and, after sealing a 2-0 win at home to Brazil on Thursday, Sanchez’s double helped La Roja win 4-3 away to Peru in the Clásico del Pacífico on Tuesday. Sanchez’s second, on the stroke of the interval, ensured that five goals were scored in the first half of a South American World Cup qualifier for only the eighth time in history and first time in 15 years, since a Romario treble had Brazil leading 5-0 in Venezuela at the break. Chile are now unbeaten in ten competitive fixtures, winning eight of them and lifting the Copa America in the process.
hours-plus without conceding at home is what Qatar have managed following back-to-back clean sheets in victories over China PR and the Maldives this past week. Those results took the Jose Daniel Carreno’s side on to maximum points from five games in the second round of Asian qualifying for Russia 2018, during which they have scored 24 goals and leaked just two.
goals within 30 seconds of action is what Ecuador netted in Buenos Aires on Thursday, sensationally equalling the total they had scored away to Argentina in World Cup qualifying history. Alex Aguinaga’s diving header, which the the pony-tailed extrovert celebrated by ball-juggling, and Patricio Urrutia’s breathtaking effort had given La Tricolor their only previous preliminary goals in South America’s third-most populous country since they first played there in 1960. Frickson Erazo and Felipe Caicedo were the quick-fire marksmen at the Monumental, handing Argentina only their third home defeat in World Cup qualifying after Colombia’s stunning 5-0 upset in 1993 and Brazil’s 3-1 victory in 2009. The result ensured Argentina and Brazil lost on the same World Cup qualifying matchday for the first time ever. Ecuador followed that up by outlasting Bolivia 2-0 under torrential rain in Quito. The visitors finished the first half having failed more passes than they completed, and the entire match having failed to have a single touch inside the Ecuadorian penalty area.
teams made it into the second round of the African preliminaries for Russia 2018 for the first time – and both on the away-goals rule. Comoros, a miniature, volcanic archipelago down in 193rd on the FIFA Ranking, caused a colossal upset by sneaking past Lesotho – despite still seeking their first win in qualifying history. Chad, for their part, stunned Sierra Leone. The pair will nevertheless be outsiders to reach the third round: Comoros will meet Ghana, while Chad face Egypt.