Shots, sensations and smashed records
© Getty Images

FIFA.com’s latest stats review focuses on a thrilling week of international football, with fresh records in Greece, Uruguay and the Netherlands featuring alongside headline-grabbing feats from the likes of Japan, Spain, Venezuela and Niger.

45

shots on goal without a single effort in return told the story of Japan’s dominance in yesterday’s 8-0 victory Tajikstan. The Samurai Blue also enjoyed a possession rate of over 90 per cent as they cruised to the most resounding win of the Asian Zone FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers thus far, and their own biggest scoreline since a 9-0 win over Brunei in February 2000. Alberto Zaccheroni’s side are now unbeaten in 17 matches, a run that stretches back 16 months to their 1-0 defeat by the Netherlands at South Africa 2010. Iran also impressed in yesterday’s continental qualifiers, putting six unanswered goals past a Bahrain side hamstrung by the dismissal of Rashed Al Hooti after only 43 seconds – the fastest dismissal ever seen in the Asian Zone preliminaries.

41

consecutive passes preceded David Silva’s opener in Spain’s 3-1 win over Scotland last night, a record high for this UEFA European Championship qualifying campaign. The world champions have now won each of their last 23 matches on home soil, conceding just six goals in the process, and are the only side not to have dropped a single point across the South Africa 2010 and EURO 2012 qualifiers. La Roja also succeeded in equalling an international record, previously shared by both the Netherlands and France, by winning a 14th consecutive competitive match. Having been forced into just five saves in his seven EURO 2012 qualifying appearances, Iker Casillas was ‘rested’ for the visit of the Scots and thereby missed out, for now at least, on drawing level with Andoni Zubizarreta’s record tally of 126 appearances. It was, however, a night to remember for Barcelona duo Victor Valdes and David Villa, who celebrated their competitive debut and 50th international goal respectively.

32

goals, the most recent of which came in last night's 1-1 draw with Paraguay, have established Diego Forlan as Uruguay’s all-time leading scorer. The Inter Milan striker’s opener in Asuncion took him one clear of the legendary Hector Scarone, while cap number 84 enabled him to extend his already record tally of international appearances. Forlan’s closest active challenger in the scoring stakes is Sebastian Abreu, who has 26, but a more likely long-term rival than 34-year-old ‘El Loco’ is Luis Suarez, a 24-year-old with 21 international strikes already to his name. La Celeste currently top South America’s FIFA World Cup qualifying standings and are enjoying a sparkling run of form, having avoided defeat in their last nine matches. Elsewhere on the continent, there was considerable reason to celebrate for Venezuela, who ended an 18-match losing streak against Argentina by beating La Albiceleste for the first time in their history.

3

first-time finalists - Botswana, Niger and co-hosts Equatorial Guinea – will take part in next year’s CAF Africa Cup of Nations after a dramatic final weekend of qualifying action. While these debutants rejoiced, there was despair for several of the continent’s big guns, with only two winners from the competition’s previous 14 editions - Côte d’Ivoire and Tunisia – doing enough to progress. The most significant trio of absentees will arguably be Nigeria, Cameroon and Egypt, who between them have won 13 of the last 27 Cup of Nations tournaments. For the Super Eagles, this is the first time they have failed to qualify for Africa’s showpiece event in over 25 years.

0

defeats in Fernando Santos’ first 16 matches in charge is the run that has taken Greece to UEFA EURO 2012 and enabled their coach to set a new national record. Winning ten and drawing six of those matches has taken Santos beyond the previous benchmark of 15, set by his predecessor, Otto Rehhagel. One streak that did come to an end in EURO qualifying was Republic of Ireland’s sequence of clean sheets, although Giovanni Trapattoni’s side still reached the play-offs despite conceding for the first time in 13 hours and 51 minutes of football. Miserly defences have been a feature of Group B, with Russia pipping the Irish to top spot on the back of five straight shoutouts – their best run since the USSR strung together seven in a row between 1990 and ‘91. At the other end, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has reigned supreme, scoring 12 times in eight qualifiers to equal Johan Cruyff’s Dutch record for European Championship preliminaries. However, the Schalke striker fell just short of the record for goals in a single campaign, which remains in the possession of Northern Ireland’s David Healy thanks to his 13 ahead of EURO 2008.