Hot streaks and a cold war
© AFP

In our regular look at the numbers behind the stories in world football, FIFA.com reflects on a week in which the big freeze wreaked havoc with the UK fixture list and warm acclaim was lavished on Sergio Canales, Shane Smeltz, Mali and AC Milan.

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years and 327 days was the age at which Racing Santander’s Sergio Canales became the week’s youngest goalscorer on Saturday. La Liga’s latest sensation was on target twice as Racing claimed a shock 2-1 win away to Sevilla, and the quality of the youngster's brace was such that even the Sevillistas rose to acclaim him as he wheeled away to celebrate. Canales, who has been likened by his coach to a young Rafael van der Vaart, is out of contract in the summer and could, in fact, be turning out for Sevilla next season after holding talks on a move to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan last week. With a record of four goals from just three starts this season, it is certainly easy to see why this talented teenager is catching the eye of Europe’s top clubs.

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goals in his last five games have fortified Shane Smeltz’s position at the summit of the A-League scoring charts, and continued the Kiwi’s record-breaking campaign. The Gold Coast United star has now scored 19 times in as many appearances, comfortably surpassing the Australian top flight’s record for goals in a single season, which previously stood at 12. Smeltz, in fact, had a share in that record, having grabbed a dozen for Wellington Phoenix last season to equal the benchmark set by Joel Griffiths the year before. The New Zealand international is now seven clear of his nearest rival, Sergio van Dijk, in this season's scoring charts and, with 40 strikes over a prolific A-League career, is within six goals of joining Thompson as the division’s all-time leading scorer.

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matches out of nine were postponed in the English Premier League at the weekend as much of northern Europe shivered its way what has been dubbed 'the big freeze'. Only Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Everton and in-form Birmingham City’s 1-1 tie with Manchester United survived as the snow and freezing temperatures left a major dent in the domestic fixture list. In Scotland, which - like England – does not accommodate a winter break, the situation was little better, with ten of the 16 scheduled Scottish Cup ties postponed due to the weather.

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goals down to the hosts with 79 minutes of their CAF Africa Cup of Nations opener played, Mali would have been forgiven for resigning themselves to defeat. Instead, Les Aigles pulled off one of the greatest comebacks ever seen at a major international tournament, scoring four goals – two of which came deep into injury time – to snatch the unlikeliest of draws. This enthralling curtain-raiser was the Cup of Nations’ highest-scoring match since Burkina Faso and Congo DR served up an identical scoreline in the third-place match in 1998, and came within a goal of equalling the biggest goal-fest in the tournament’s history: Egypt’s 6-3 win over Nigeria in 1963.

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unanswered goals from AC Milan handed Juventus their biggest home defeat in 13 years on Sunday. The last team to beat the Turin giants by such an emphatic margin were Udinese, who also claimed a 3-0 win over the then European champions on 13 April 1997. Juve, who have only been beaten by three or more goals at home 15 times in their entire history, suffered their heaviest home defeat on 5 February 1950, with AC Milan again their conquerors in an infamous 7-1 defeat. I Rossoneri, meanwhile, will hope that this latest triumph bodes well for their prospects this season. After all, the last time the club won in Turin was in 2003/04, a campaign in which they went on to lift the Scudetto.