Stars, silverware and sighs of relief
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FIFA.com’s latest statistical review reflects on drought-ending goals for Messrs Torres, Villa and Palermo, success for Marseille and Dinamo Zagreb, a return to football for Japan, and fresh records for Lionel Messi, Real Madrid and Robin van Persie.

903

minutes without a goal was the mammoth run that Fernando Torres finally brought to an end on Saturday. The Spaniard’s much-discussed barren streak for club and country had stretched back to 22 January and encompassed 16 matches: 13 for Chelsea, two for his national team and one for Liverpool. It proved to be a weekend full of goalscoring milestones in England, with Tottenham Hotspur’s Jermain Defoe becoming the 20th player to reach the 100-goal mark in the Premier League and Liverpool’s Maxi Rodriguez scoring his first hat-trick since September 2004. Robin van Persie also set a new benchmark by scoring in his seventh successive Premier League away match, eclipsing Didier Drogba’s previous record.

50

goals in all competitions this season is the tally that has enabled Lionel Messi to set a new Spanish record, surpassing Ferenc Puskas’s previous mark. The Hungarian's record, set when he racked up 49 over the course of the 1959/60 campaign, had stood for over half a century before being eclipsed in the 88th minute of Barcelona’s 2-0 win over Osasuna on Saturday. The game’s opener had come from a relieved David Villa, who – like his international colleague, Torres – was enduring an unusually long drought, having failed to score in his previous 11 Barça appearances. Not to be outdone, Real Madrid became the first away team in the history of La Liga to score six goals at the Mestalla, with Kaka and Gonzalo Higuain accruing a combined tally of five goals and four assists in the highest-scoring match of the Spanish season: a 6-3 win at Valencia. 

14

years after last scoring for Gimnasia La Plata, Guillermo Barros Schelotto was back on target for El Lobo on Sunday. The 37-year-old, who returned to Argentina earlier this year from Major League Soccer, left Gimnasia for Boca Juniors in 1997, scoring what everyone thought was his final goal for the club in a match against San Lorenzo. However, he was among the goals once again at the weekend, netting his first goal from open play in over seven months as his relegation-threatened side drew 1-1 with Arsenal. Barros Schelotto wasn’t the only the only Argentinian legend who ended a long wait over the weekend, with Martin Palermo bringing to a close a scoring drought of 951 minutes – the longest of his career – by sealing Boca Juniors’ 3-0 win at Huracan.

7

weeks after their last match, and over five months on from their last win, Vegalta Sendai made a triumphant return to action in a poignant weekend for Japanese football. The north-eastern outfit, who hadn’t tasted victory since 14 November and were on a five-match winless streak, came from behind to claim a dramatic late win away to Kawasaki Frontale, providing some much-needed cheer for their devastated region. Two goals in the final 17 minutes, the second of which came from defender Jiro Kamata – his first since that November victory over Jubilo Iwata – sparked moving celebrations that reduced coach Makoto Teguramori to tears.

6

successive league championships is the sequence that has made Dinamo Zagreb the toast of Croatia after they clinched their latest title on Saturday. A 1-0 win over Osijek enabled the Plavi to maintain a 13-point lead and retain the Prva Liga crown with four games to spare. Dinamo’s recent stranglehold on the domestic crown has enabled them to replace Hadjuk Split as the most successful team in Croatian football history. While Hadjuk were dominant during the pre-independence era, winning nine Yugoslav titles to Dinamo’s four, the years since 1991 have witnessed the men from the capital assume control, outscoring their old rivals by 13 Liga championships to six.

2

successive Coupe de La Ligue titles is a feat that, before Saturday, no-one had managed in the competition’s 16-year existence. Marseille were the team to rewrite history, beating Montpellier 1-0 to extend an eight-match winning streak in the competition and retain a trophy they won for the first time last year. Remarkably, Taye Taiwo – who scored his first goal in seven months to inflict a 2-1 league defeat on the same opponents six days earlier – was again Marseille’s match-winner, grabbing the decisive goal with nine minutes remaining. The win also established Souleymane Diawara and Didier Deschamps, with four and three Coupe de la Ligue triumphs respectively, as the most successful player and coach in the tournament’s history.