Centurions, streaks and comeback kids
© Getty Images

This week, an unforgettable encounter on Tyneside, landmark goals in Italy, a long-awaited derby win in Brazil and a miserable run for Arles-Avignon feature alongside Barcelona’s latest record-breaking exploits.

100

Serie A goals was the landmark reached by two Italian veterans over the weekend, with Luca Toni completing a top-flight century and Antonio Di Natale scoring his 100th league goal in the colours of Udinese. Nor were these Serie A centurions the only players celebrating milestones, with Toni’s team-mate Alessandro Del Piero making his 444th top-flight appearance to equal another Giampiero Boniperti record, as Juve beat Cagliari 3-1 to record a first away win since 5 December. Maicon, meanwhile, made his 200th appearance for Inter Milan, while Amauri ended a tortuous, 357-day-long goal drought by scoring for the first time since 14 February 2010 in Parma’s 1-1 draw with Fiorentina.

16

straight league wins have enabled Barcelona to set a new Spanish benchmark, eclipsing the 50-year-old record of the great Real Madrid team of the early 1960s. The star of their latest triumph, a 3-0 victory over Atletico Madrid on Saturday, was again Lionel Messi, whose hat-trick raised his tally in all competitions this season to 40. It was the 12th time the little Argentinian had scored twice or more in a competitive fixture this season and leaves him just seven short of the club record of 47 goals in a single campaign he shares with Ronaldo. With 24 goals league goals from just 19 appearances, Messi is currently averaging an amazing 1.26 goals-per-match, and 14 of his 167 Barça goals have now come against Atletico, edging Los Colchoneros ahead of Sevilla as his favourite victims.

12

attempts at the Engenhao finally yielded a derby victory for Botafogo on Sunday. O Fogão, who had endured nine draws and two losses in matches against Flamengo, Vasco da Gama and Fluminense since becoming proprietors of the stadium in August 2007, came from behind to end their winless sequence with a thrilling 3-2 triumph over Flu. A brace from Rafael Moura had given the visitors a 2-1 half-time lead, the Fluminense new boy doubling in the space of 15 minutes the number of goals he had managed during a previous six-month, 15-game stint with the club. Botafogo battled back in the second half, however, and after Sebastian Abreu had equalised with a trademark chipped penalty – having seen an identical effort saved four minutes earlier - German Herrera secured a long-awaited derby victory with ten minutes remaining.

4

goals down to Arsenal with 22 minutes remaining: this was the position from which Newcastle United staged the biggest comeback in English Premier League history. Never before in the division’s 19-year history had a team retrieved a four-goal deficit, but the Magpies managed it in the space of 19 thrilling minutes that culminated in Cheik Tiote’s spectacular late equaliser. The weekend was also memorable for Manchester United’s first league defeat in 308 days, with Wolverhampton Wanderers’ 2-1 win denying the Red Devils the chance to make it 30 matches unbeaten and set a new club record in the Premier League. Another run came to an end at Stamford Bridge, meanwhile, where match-winner Raul Meireles became the first Liverpool player in 666 minutes of league action to score at Stamford Bridge. The Portuguese midfielder has now scored three goals in his last four top-flight matches, equalling the tally he had accrued in his previous 50.

4

months and 15 days have now passed since Arles-Avignon last scored away from home in Ligue 1. The struggling southern outfit’s last strike on the road came during a 3-1 at Montpellier on 25 September, and 659 minutes of subsequent league action have failed to produce another. One man with no problem finding the way to goal at the moment is Moussa Sow. The Lille striker’s acrobatic goal against Auxerre at the weekend took his Ligue 1 tally for the season to 16 – five more than the entire Arles-Avignon team – and edged him three clear of Paris Saint-Germain’s Nene at the top of the French scoring charts. Sow is the first Lille player to reach this tally in a single league season since Pierre Pleimelding scored 18 during the course of 1979/80.