A welcome return and a fond farewell
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In FIFA.com’s first statistical review following the FIFA World Cup™, we reflect on a week in which Thierry Henry, Michael Essien and Ever Palacios were in the headlines for very different reasons.

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spectators turned out for the opening match of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Bochum, providing a powerful reminder of Germany’s passion for and commitment to the female game. Just as in the senior men’s equivalent in 2006, the hosts faced Costa Rica in the tournament’s curtain-raiser - and the symmetry didn’t end there. Remarkably in fact, Germany went on to clinch an identical 4-2 win to that secured four years ago, with Svenja Huth taking Philipp Lahm’s place as the early goalscorer and Alexandra Popp emulating Miroslav Klose by grabbing a double. And just like Jurgen Klinsmann’s class of 2006, Germany have since gone on to reach the knockout rounds with a game to spare and completed the group stage with three wins from three.

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days after turning 41, and almost a year to the day of his last goal, Ever Palacios became the week’s oldest goalscorer with the winner in Chico’s 1-0 victory over FC Cortulua on Sunday. The veteran Colombian defender, a member of his country’s 1998 FIFA World Cup squad, is in the twilight of a career that included stints with Japanese outfits Shonan Bellmare and Kashiwa Reysol. At the other end of the age spectrum, DC United’s Andy Najar – 17 years and 124 days old – earned the title of the week’s youngest goalscorer with the consolation goal in a 2-1 defeat to LA Galaxy. With the capital club languishing at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, the Honduran teenager’s emergence has been the highlight of their campaign; indeed, with three goals, Najar is now DCU’s top marksman.

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caps and 51 goals: these were the impressive tallies with which Thierry Henry this week bade farewell to international football. Though still just 32, the New York Red Bulls striker has stepped aside to enable a new generation of players to revive French fortunes after a disastrous FIFA World Cup. While South Africa 2010 was not the swansong he had hoped for, Henry still retires as Les Bleus’ record goalscorer – 10 ahead of second-placed Michel Platini – and second only to Lilian Thuram (142) in terms of appearances.

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years - and nine successive losses – since they last denied Sao Paulo victory in the Brasileirao, Vitoria repeated the feat in Round 9 of the 2010 competition. The Baiano team’s previous defeat of the Paulista giants was in August 2001, when Allan Delon and Dudu put them 2-0 up before Kaka grabbed a last-gasp consolation for the visitors. On this latest occasion, goals from Elkeson, Schwenck and Ramon proved enough for a 3-2 success, which took O Leão above their opponents and into tenth – and gave them a timely boost ahead of their first-ever Copa do Brasil final. The result also levelled the scores in Brasileirao matches between Vitoria and Sao Paulo at the Estadio Barradao: each have now won six of their 12 meetings.

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months and nine days after he last played for Chelsea, Michael Essien made a match-winning comeback, scoring the decisive goal in a 1-0 friendly win over Crystal Palace on Saturday. The 27-year-old, who missed the run-in to the Blues’ title-winning campaign and the ensuing FIFA World Cup with a cruciate ligament injury, was lauded as “fantastic” by manager Carlo Ancelotti after this impressive return to action. With Yossi Benayoun the club’s only major close season signing, Chelsea’s title defence is sure to be boosted by the return of one of the game’s great midfield all-rounders.