Streaks, success and formidable fortresses
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FIFA.com’s latest statistical review features derby joy for Roma, title success for Brisbane Roar, fresh milestones for Manchester United and Shakhtar Donetsk, and the end of a long streak in Argentina.

396

minutes without conceding was the run that came to a calamitous end for River Plate and their 20-year-old goalkeeper on Sunday. Leandro Chichizola had made an impressive start to his River career, keeping a clean sheet in each of his first four competitive appearances as Los Millonarios began to recover some of their old lustre. However, as half-time approached in the meeting with Velez Sarsfield, the youngster’s perfect record came to an abrupt end thanks to the first clanger of his fledgling career. Miskicking completely from a straightforward backpass, Chichizola was left to scramble helplessly as Santiago Silva pounced to roll the ball into the empty net. Nor were River able to recover, going down 2-1 to Velez for their opening defeat of the Clausura campaign and their first competitive loss since a 4-0 defeat by Estudiantes over three months ago.

100

UEFA Champions League wins was the milestone reached by Sir Alex Ferguson last night as Manchester United reached the quarter-finals for the fifth season in succession. No manager has contested, or won, more matches in Europe’s elite club competition than the veteran Scot, whose United side have now reached the last eight on a record 12 occasions. In seeing off Marseille 2-1, the Red Devils also maintained their record of never having lost at home in 13 meetings with French opposition. Some nervy moments were assured by Wes Brown's own goal, which was the 11th in this season's Champions League, surpassing the ten seen during the 2002/03 season to set a new competition record. Nonetheless, last night’s triumph capped a successful few days for the Premier League leaders, who beat Arsenal on Sunday to reach the FA Cup semi-finals for the 27th time, more than any other club. This week also brought a further reminder of Ferguson’s remarkable longevity, with Aidy Boothroyd becoming the 1,031st manager to be sacked in England’s top four divisions since the Scotsman’s appointment in November 1986.

28

matches without defeat was the Australian record streak that took Brisbane Roar to championship success for the first time in the club's history. The Queensland outfit secured the A-League title on Sunday after extending their six-month unbeaten run with a dramatic Grand Final win over Central Coast Mariners. Having avoided defeat since 12 September, Ange Postecoglou’s side found themselves 2-0 down with just four minutes of extra time remaining, but somehow hauled themselves off the canvas and struck twice before taking the trophy on penalties. The newly-crowned champions not only boast the longest active unbeaten streak in world football, but have also become just the fifth team in their nation’s football history to survive an entire season without losing at home. Evidence of the A-League’s growing strength was also seen in a Grand Final crowd of 50,168 that smashed Brisbane’s previous record attendance for a domestic football fixture, set when 40,446 turned out for the finale of the old National Soccer League in 1997.

5

successive wins in the Derby della Capitale have enabled Roma to emulate their best ever run in the fixture, set between 1958 and 1960. Their latest triumph, which took them to within another win of Lazio’s all-time record from 1950-53, was indebted to two goals from their captain and talisman, Francesco Totti. The 34-year-old hadn’t scored in the derby since 2005, but Sunday’s brace left him just one short of the 200-mark in Serie A and needing just seven more goals to achieve his target of surpassing Roberto Baggio in the league’s all-time list. Totti also became the first Roma player this season to score from a free-kick, or indeed from outside the area. Lazio, meanwhile, have now conceded five penalties in their four five Rome derbies and need to look back to 1 November 1997 for their last ‘away’ win over their old rivals in Serie A.

2

years, four months and 22 days have now passed since Shakhtar Donetsk last suffered a home defeat. This hugely impressive run, which encompasses 57 matches in all competitions, stretches all the way back to 22 October 2008 and a 1-0 UEFA Champions League defeat to Sporting. That long-forgotten loss came almost a year before the Hirnyky (Miners) moved to the impressive Donbass Arena, an arena which is now among European football’s most imposing fortresses, with last week’s 3-0 victory over Roma the club’s 21st successive home win. Seeing off their Italian visitors also enabled Shakhtar to reach the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals for the first time and become the first Ukrainian side to qualify for the last eight since Dynamo Kyiv in 1998/99.