Comebacks, kings and cards
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A memorable comeback, a mammoth losing run, a K-League landmark, plus new champions and red cards aplenty. All of this and more is crammed into FIFA.com's latest statistical review, which kicks off with a day of mixed emotions for a South Korean legend.

500

K-League matches was the milestone reached by Gyeongnam goalkeeper Kim Byung-Ji on the last day of the regular season on Sunday. The former Korea Republic international, a 69-times-capped veteran of France 1998, was even permitted by the league to wear the No500 shirt to mark the occasion. However, this landmark match did not end as Kim would have hoped, as Gyeongnam crashed to a 4-2 defeat by Jeonbuk Motors and missed out on a place in the play-offs. Ironically, the four goals conceded by the 39-year-old were the 497th, 498th, 499th and, yes, 500th of a colourful K-League career spanning 18 seasons.

11

defeats in as many matches have already given Grenoble the worst-ever start to a Ligue 1 season. Now, after going down 2-0 at home to OSC Lille on Saturday, the beleaguered French outfit stand within one more loss of equalling a European record. In the continent's five major leagues, only one team in history - Manchester United in season 1930/31 - have begun a domestic season with 12 straight defeats, a record Grenoble will match should they lose again away to Monaco on Saturday. Already, they have comfortably eclipsed the slowest-ever starters in Italy (Venezia, eight defeats in 1949/50), Spain (Real Zaragoza, eight in 1952/53), Germany (Fortuna Dusseldorf, six in 1991/92) and, of course, their home country, where Mulhouse (1936/37), Havre AC (1946/47) and Caen (1988/89) all kicked off Ligue 1 campaigns with six successive defeats.

9

red cards were flashed during a record-breaking weekend of indiscipline in the English Premier League. Never before had eight players received their marching orders on a single day of Premier League action, but Saturday witnessed Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, Carlos Cuellar, Kenwyne Jones, Radoslav Kovac, Geovanni, Jlloyd Samuel and Liverpool duo Philipp Degen and Jamie Carragher rewrite history. Birmingham City's Barry Ferguson duly continued the theme on Saturday, ensuring a total of nine red cards for the first time in over a decade, since 25-27 September 1999. On the whole, however, the English top flight remains better behaved than Europe's other major leagues. Last season, in fact, only 63 red cards were shown in the Premier League compared to 116 in Serie A and 148 in La Liga.

6

seasons, six different champions. That is the situation in Sweden, where the unpredictability of the Allsvenskan was re-affirmed on Sunday when AIK became the sixth club in as many campaigns to be crowned champions. Eleven years after their last title triumph, the Stockholm outfit returned to the summit of Swedish football on the final day by edging a winner-takes-all duel with championship rivals IFK Gothenburg. IFK, who were playing at home, held a 1-0 lead at half-time and, at that stage, looked to be on course to claim the win they needed to leapfrog their visitors. However, a second-half comeback turned the match on its head, enabling AIK to continue a sequence of individual successes started by Malmo in 2004 and maintained in the intervening years by Djurgardens, Elfsborg, IFK and Kalmar.

3

goals in 21 second-half minutes gave Napoli the week's most spectacular comeback and the club's first win away to Juventus in almost 21 years. Not since 20 November 1988, when a Careca hat-trick and goals from Andrea Carnevale and Alessandro Renica earned them a 5-3 victory, had I Partenopei managed a win against La Vecchia Signora in Turin, with 11 defeats and six draws having followed. Ironically, Ciro Ferrera played for Napoli in that Careca-inspired win, and the Juventus coach must have thought that his former club, two down with 59 minutes played, had no chance of preventing their hosts closing the gap on leaders Inter Milan. As it was, in a match that pitted the Cannavaro brothers against each other, Napoli came from two goals behind for the second time in a week to snatch the unlikeliest of 3-2 victories.