Droughts end as Xavi takes a bow
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FIFA.com’s first statistical review of 2011 reflects on a week that brought relief for Wayne Rooney and Georgios Samaras, despair for Porto, a new record for Xavi and a fresh challenge for Leonardo.

1418

minutes without a goal in open play for Manchester United was the miserable run that came to a long-awaited end for Wayne Rooney on Saturday. Other than penalties, the England striker’s last goal for his club had come over nine months ago, in the first minute of a 2-1 defeat at Bayern Munich on 30 March. Rooney’s subsequent drought was all the more astonishing given that the aforementioned goal in Munich was his 17th goal in 13 United appearances at the time, all of which had come from open play. The Red Devils No10 will now hope that a corner has been turned after he helped extend Sir Alex Ferguson’s side’s 19-match unbeaten start to the Premier League season. Rooney headed the opener in a 2-1 win at West Bromwich Albion and later set up Javier Hernandez to nod home the winner, taking Manchester United’s tally of headed goals this season to 13 – already more than 16 Premier League sides managed during the entire 2009/10 campaign.

549

Barcelona appearances was the landmark reached by Xavi against Levante on Sunday, equalling a club record set during the 1970s and ‘80s by Migueli. The man he emulated, a defensive stalwart who spent 16 years at Camp Nou, was on hand to congratulate the Barça No6 before kick-off, and then looked on as his successor marked the occasion in some style. Xavi, in fact, went on to complete 156 passes in the champions’ 2-1 win – 41 more than the entire Levante team combined. Prior to Sunday, no La Liga player in the past four seasons had ever managed more than 135 successful passes in a single match. The 30-year-old, who is also just two appearances short of the century mark for Spain, is now all but certain to surpass Migueli this evening when Barcelona take on Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey.

307

days after their last competitive loss, Porto’s long unbeaten run came to an abrupt and unexpected halt on Sunday with a 2-1 home defeat by Nacional. This League Cup reverse was the Portuguese leaders' first in 37 matches, a sequence that stretched all the way back to 21 March and a defeat to Benfica in the final of the same competition. The result was all the more unexpected as the in-form Hulk, who was making his 100th Porto appearance, had given Os Dragões a 64th-minute lead, continuing a superb personal run of form that has included 12 goals in his last 12 league appearances. However, two goals in seven minutes from Nacional substitute Anselmo undid the Brazilian’s efforts and ended Andre Villas Boas’ side’s hopes of surviving an entire year without tasting defeat. Porto will nonetheless be comforted by their eight-point lead in the SuperLiga, where they remain unbeaten in over ten months.

19

hours and 56 minutes of searching fruitlessly for a league goal came to a sweet and timely end for Georgios Samaras on Sunday. Having managed just three Scottish Premier League strikes during 2010, the most recent of which came on 20 March, the Celtic forward chose the Old Firm derby – and the home of his club’s great rivals - to make a spectacular return to form. Samaras was the undisputed star of the Bhoys’ 2-0 win over Rangers, scoring twice and matching in the space of eight second-half minutes the number of goals Celtic had managed in their previous seven visits to Ibrox. The Greek will now aim to cement his new-found status among his club’s support by scoring in consecutive games for the first time since December 2009 when Celtic face another Rangers, fourth tier Berwick, in the Scottish Cup on Saturday.

5

men can now boast the distinction of having coached both Milan giants after Leonardo took the reins at Inter last week. The Brazilian, who ended a long association with his new club’s great rivals just six months ago, is the first foreigner to cross the San Siro divide. In moving from the red half of the city to the blue, he follows an illustrious group of Italian tacticians who made the same switch, starting with the trailblazing Giuseppe Bigogno (Milan 1946-49, Inter 1958) and continuing with Ilario Castagner (Milan 1982-84, Inter 1984-85), Giovanni Trapattoni (Milan 1975-76, Inter 1986-91) and Alberto Zaccheroni (Milan 1998-2001, Inter 2003-04).