spectators gave the Seattle Sounders-San Jose Earthquakes match the third-biggest attendance in Major League Soccer history, and the fourth-largest on planet football on Saturday. Only Los Angeles Galaxy’s hosting of New York/New Jersey MetroStars in 1996 (69,255) and David Beckham’s debut for Los Angeles Galaxy away to New York Red Bulls four years ago (66,238) attracted greater crowds, while there were more fans at CenturyLink Field four days ago than there were at the Stadio Olimpico to witness the Rome derby – only the Barcelona-Racing Santander, Real Madrid-Real Betis and Bayern Munich-Hertha Berlin fixtures boasted superior figures. Seattle’s average home crowd of nearly 40,000, during what is a record-breaking season for MLS attendances, is over 15,000 more than their closest rivals, but there was a special reason for their bumper gate in Round 33: it was the last regular-season display of the legendary Kasey Keller, and the club put on a special ceremony to mark the occasion in which he was presented with bronzed goalkeeping gloves and a trendy motorcycle. And the 102-times-capped former USA international absolutely rose to the occasion. Indeed, after Chris Wondolowski had fired the Quakes into a 24th-minute lead, the former Tottenham Hotspur man produced a heroic performance to keep his team in the game before late goals from Sammy Ochoa and Fredy Montero snatched the Sounders a 2-1 victory. Keller, who was born in Washington state and will turn 42 next month, was duly named MLS player of the week.
seconds is all it took Robin van Persie to put Arsenal in front against Sunderland with their fastest-ever Premier League goal and the quickest in the competition since Geovanni snapped the deadlock for Manchester City against Wigan Athletic in an identical time in December 2007. Ledley King holds the record for the most rapid goal in Premier League history, his ten-second effort for Tottenham against Bradford City in 2000 just pipping Alan Shearer’s one for Newcastle United against City in 2003. A superb free-kick from Sebastian Larsson against his former club cancelled out the Dutch forward’s opener, and ensured eight of the Sweden midfielder’s last 14 goals in the English top flight have been set-pieces, but Van Persie had the final say. With eight minutes remaining, indeed, the 28-year-old curled home a free-kick – his 23rd goal in his last 27 Premier League appearances - to earn Arsenal a 2-1 victory. A lightning goal also earned Apostolos Vellios the plaudits at the weekend, though the 19-year-old striker’s did not come soon after kick-off. The Greek, by contrast, came on as an 80th-minute substitute, with Everton trailing 3-0 at Chelsea. Just eight seconds after play had restarted, however, Vellios turned home Royston Drenthe’s cross to score with his first touch and ensure the Blues have now gone seven matches without keeping a clean sheet for the first time since 2003.
hours and seven minutes without conceding was the incredible run that came to an end for Bayern Munich away to Napoli last night. Toni Kroos’s second-minute opener – the second-fastest goal in this season’s UEFA Champions League and the Bavarian giants’ second-quickest in the history of the competition – was their 33rd without reply since an unanswered header from Igor De Camargo of Borussia Monchengladbach handed them defeat in the opening round of the 2011/12 Bundesliga. Thereafter, Manuel Neuer had failed to leak a goal in eight Bundesliga outings, two Champions League qualifiers and a further two Group A matches – 11 of those 12 games were victories – before Holger Badstuber inadvertently put the ball into his own net to end the invincibility and earn Napoli a 1-1 draw. The 22-year-old’s unfortunate act also took Bayern level with Manchester United as the team that has posted the most own-goals in the Champions League, though it could have been a better night for Jupp Heynckes’ men had Mario Gomez not become the first Bayern player since Stefan Effenburg in April 2002 to miss a penalty in Europe’s elite club tournament.
matches undefeated at home to Paris Saint-Germain is what Ajaccio boasted heading into their reunion in Round 10 of Ligue 1 on Sunday, a sequence that also contributed to PSG having a worse record against L’ours than any other team they had met on more than ten occasions. The capital club nevertheless ended their Corsican curse, with a hat-trick from Kevin Gameiro earning a 3-1 victory that sent the diminutive 24-year-old top of the division’s scoring chart, consolidated Antoine Kombouare’s side’s position at the summit, and left Ajaccio as the only team yet to keep a clean sheet in the 2011/12 Ligue 1.
is the number of hat-tricks Gonzalo Higuain has incredibly managed in his past four starts for club and country. The 23-year-old scored thrice in Real Madrid’s 4-0 win at Espanyol on 2 October, before repeating the feat for Argentina in a 4-1 defeat of Chile in which he also set up Lionel Messi’s goal. Higuain then drew a blank as La Albiceleste lost 1-0 away to Venezuela, but returned to form with a treble as Los Merengues overcame Betis 4-1 on Saturday. The France-born striker’s output lifted him to second on La Liga’s scoring chart, two shy of ten-goal leader Messi. Higuain came on as a substitute in last night’s 4-0 win over Lyon.