Wunderkinds and a wonder goal

In many ways, football is a simple game: the team that scores the most goals, wins. Yet in every single match, there are intriguing statistical sub-plots that help make the beautiful game the fascinating spectacle it is. That's why, each week, FIFA.com takes a look at the numbers behind the results.

This week's review applauds the impact of two 16-year-old substitutes, the creativity of Cesc Fabregas, and a truly remarkable header from Martin Palermo.

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crosses - one every 104 seconds and all to no avail - were delivered by Marseille during a 2-1 defeat at home by Monaco on Sunday. First-half goals from Nene and Chu-Young Park condemned OM to a third loss in the space in eight days, despite a late consolation from Mamadou Niang following a Hatem Ben Arfa through-ball. Monaco's victory elevated them above their victims into fourth in Ligue 1, much to the dismay of Marseille coach Didier Deschamps, who guided Les Rouge et Blanc into the 2003/04 UEFA Champions League final.

38

metres: that is the outrageous distance from which Martin Palermo headed home Boca Juniors' winner in a 3-2 defeat of Velez Sarsfield at the weekend. The 35-year-old intercepted a clearance from El Fortín goalkeeper German Montoya with a first-time header, which, with improbable force, flew into the back of the net. The goal, El Loco's 200th in Argentinian football, ended his side's run of five games without victory, and earned Boca revenge over a Velez side that recently eliminated them from the Copa Sudamericana. Afterwards, the burly forward was added to Diego Maradona's squad for Argentina's crucial 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifiers with Peru and Uruguay. With first-choice striker Diego Milito out injured, Palermo, who scored both goals for La Albiceleste in a 2-0 win over Ghana in their last outing, is expected to lead his country's line against Jose Del Solar's side on Saturday.

16

years and 289 days was the age at which Athletic Bilbao's Iker Muniain become the youngest marksman in La Liga history away to Valladolid on Sunday. The 1.67m forward, nicknamed 'Bart Simpson', entered proceedings as a 62nd-minute substitute, and took only a quarter-hour to strike the ball home inside a congested area to earn Los Leones a 2-2 draw. The only previous player to score in Spain's top tier before his 17th birthday - 12 days shy of it, to be precise - also did so on opposition soil and with the final goal in a 2-2 stalemate; Xisco Nadal's 11th-hour effort earning Villarreal a point at Espanyol in June 2003. Less than one month later, the Majorca-born forward netted another stoppage-time goal to snatch a Spain squad including Cesc Fabregas and David Silva a 3-3 draw with Sierra Leone en route to the FIFA U-17 World Cup Finland 2003 decider. Xisco is followed on the list of La Liga's youngster scorers by Juan Mena (17 years and 36 days), Bojan (17 years and 53 days), Alberto Rivera (17 years and 111 days), Raul (17 years and 131 days) and Pombo (17 years and 145 days).

16

years and 77 days was the age at which Belgian boy wonder Mats Rits made an emphatic professional debut on Saturday. With Germinal Beerschot trailing at home to Westerlo, the attacking midfielder was summoned from the bench to replace the injured Daniel Cruz on the half-hour mark. Rits, who has been trailed by Ajax and Real Madrid, among others, responded by scoring De Ratten's equaliser and then sealing a 3-1 victory in the closing moments.

4

assists - along with one goal - is what Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas produced before his 75th-minute substitution in a 6-2 reverse of Blackburn Rovers on Sunday. The quartet took the Spain midfielder's statistics to eight assists in six games this term - from just 461 minutes on the pitch - and 47 in 83 in the Premier League and UEFA Champions League since the start of the 2007/08 season.

1

year to the day after his last goal in the Argentinian championship, San Lorenzo striker Bernardo Romeo - who was on target 60 times in 97 appearances during his first spell with the club - finally returned to the scoresheet. And what a time the 32-year-old picked to end his barren run: just two minutes after a Leandro Romagnoli penalty had drawn El Ciclón level with River Plate, the ex-Hamburg player headed home the winner to move Diego Simeone's side just three points behind Apertura leaders Estudiantes. The goal also condemned River Plate to a club-record 16th away game without victory, which prompted coach Nestor Gorosito - Romeo's former San Lorenzo team-mate - to resign.