Lionel Messi’s coronation and Kristine Lilly’s retirement provide the focus for a statistical review that also reflects on the speedy sacking of Jorn Anderson, a landmark win for Chelsea and Brisbane Roar’s outstanding run of form.

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international appearances was the record tally with which Kristine Lilly last week retired from football. In calling time on an incredible career that spanned over 23 years and, uniquely, all five FIFA Women’s World Cups™, the USA icon leaves several benchmarks that will be extremely difficult to reach. Aside from that record number of caps, which leaves her 77 clear of old team-mate and closest rival, Mia Hamm, Lilly is also the only player to appear for USA in four different decades and the oldest by some distance to both play and score for the Stars and Stripes. The little midfielder became the second-youngest to pull on the shirt when she turned out against China PR in August 1987 at the age of just 16 years and 12 days, and she went on to rack up 130 goals - second only to Hamm - before making her final appearance in November of last year. The 39-year-old, who also became the first woman to play for a professional men’s team in 1995 and won two FIFA World Cups and two Olympic golds, leaves the hardest of acts to follow.

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days after taking charge of Larissa, Jorn Anderson’s brief reign came to a sudden end on Sunday when was shown the door by the struggling Greek side. The former Mainz coach had been appointed on 16 December, but defeats in each of his first four matches without a single goal scored prompted the Thessaly outfit to make Nikos Kostenoglou their third coach of the season. Larissa, who currently languish five points adrift at the foot of the Greek Superleague, haven’t won since October and Kostenoglou’s first challenge will be to halt an eight-game losing streak.

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matches without defeat is the streak that has put Brisbane Roar firmly on course for the first major title of their history in the the A-League Premiership. Angelos Postecoglou’s side’s last and only loss of the season came exactly four months ago, and the time since has seen them establish a commanding nine-point advantage at the league’s summit. Currently, Manchester United are the only other team in world football who can match their unbeaten run, and the Roar are certainly bringing some much-needed cheer to Brisbane at a time when the city and wider region are struggling amid devastating floods.

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braces, five hat-tricks and one quadruple contributed to Lionel Messi’s tally of 60 goals in 64 appearances for club and country in 2010. Given that the year also ended with the Barcelona star having made more assists (15) and completed more dribbles (166) than anyone else in La Liga, it was no surprise that he proved a worthy and popular recipient of the first-ever FIFA Ballon d’Or on Monday. Messi had won both the FIFA World Player and the Ballon d’Or awards in 2009, and this latest triumph saw him become the first man since Marco van Basten in 1988/89 to win successive Ballon d’Ors, and the first since Ronaldinho in 2004/05 to win FIFA’s top individual prize. Prior to Monday, just five players – Johan Cruyff, Kevin Keegan, Karl-Heinz Rummennigge, Michel Platini and Marco van Basten - had won the France Football honour in consecutive years, while only Ronaldo and Ronaldinho had achieved the same feat with the FIFA World Player award.

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unanswered goals against Ipswich Town gave Chelsea their biggest FA Cup win in 103 years. Not since a 9-1 thumping of Worksop Town in 1908 had the Stamford Bridge club enjoyed such an easy ride in the world’s oldest football competition, and they also became the first team since Coventry City in 1999 to put seven or more goals past lower-league opposition. Ipswich, for their part, were left to reflect on the heaviest FA Cup defeat of their history, and they weren’t the only ones left lamenting a morale-sapping loss. Worst affected was England’s north-east, where regional heavyweights Newcastle United, Sunderland and Middlesbrough all crashed out to lower-tier opposition, exiting the tournament on the same day for the first time in 54 years.