International icons and a hat-trick hero
© AFP

FIFA.com’s latest stats review is dominated by FIFA World Cup™ qualifiers and the continental showpieces in Europe and Oceania, with Lionel Messi and Andriy Shevchenko starring alongside Chile, Germany and Tahiti.

56

goals at the UEFA European Championship was the tally reached by Germany in their 1-0 win over Portugal, edging them one in front the Netherlands, their current group rivals, as the competition’s all-time leading scorers. Mario Gomez’s match-winning header continued a fine scoring streak for Joachim Low’s side, who have now found the net in each of their last 16 matches – a run unequalled across Europe. The win also maintained the Germans’ record of never of never having lost their opening match at a EURO, and was secured by their youngest-ever starting XI in the competition, with an average age of 25 years and 120 days. The Dutch, meanwhile, suffered their first defeat in a group-stage match at a EURO or FIFA World Cup since 2004, and their first loss to Denmark in 45 years, when the Danes claimed their only previous win in the fixture. There was, though, some consolation for Jetro Willems, who – just 71 days after celebrating his 18th birthday – became the youngest player to appear at a EURO, surpassing the record set by Belgian legend Enzo Scifo (18 years, 115 days) at EURO 1984.

39

years of OFC Nations Cup history had, until Sunday, included just two winners: Australia and New Zealand. This duopoly, which had seen eight titles shared equally between the two, was finally broken when Tahiti, against all the odds, became the first Pacific Islands nations to win Oceania’s most coveted prize. Eddy Etaeta’s all-conquering side were worthy champions too, not only winning all five of their games at the tournament, but doing so by an average scoreline of 4-1. Indeed, they finished the tournament having found the net on 20 occasions - 14 more than deposed continental kings, New Zealand - and with three-quarters of that haul having come from the Tehau family: brothers Jonathan, Lorenzo and Alvin, and cousin Teaonui.

35

years and 256 days was the age at which Andriy Shevchenko undid Sweden with a decisive double on Monday and established himself as the second-oldest goalscorer in the history of the UEFA European Championship. The competition record is held by Ivica Vastic, who was just 108 days away from his 39th birthday when he found the net for Austria at EURO 2008. Shevchenko nonetheless joined an elite group of 12 players who have scored at least twice in a match at both the European showpiece and the FIFA World Cup, and did so with his first competitive double for Ukraine since November 2004. His contribution also stole the headlines from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who had earlier become the fifth player to score at three separate EUROs, following in the footsteps of Jurgen Klinsmann, Vladimir Smicer, Thierry Henry and Nuno Gomes.

3

successive 2-0 wins have taken Chile to the top of South America’s FIFA World Cup qualifying table for the first time in their history. La Roja were the only side in the region to collect six points from their two matches this month, and the fact that both wins were secured on the road, with clean sheets kept in the process, was all the more impressive given their concession of eight goals in their first two away fixtures. Matias Fernandez’s 85th-minute opener in Saturday’s win over Venezuela was also the first goal that La Vinotinto had conceded at home in 265 minutes of football on the road to Brazil 2014. Elsewhere, there was relief for Chile’s previous victims, Bolivia, who ended a run of six FIFA World Cup qualifiers without a win, beating Paraguay 3-1 to claim three points for the first time since October 2009.

3

goals against Brazil is a feat that, prior to Saturday, no-one had managed since Paolo Rossi’s famous hat-trick at the 1982 FIFA World Cup. The man to rewrite history was, predictably enough, Lionel Messi, who has made remarkable achievements commonplace over recent years. His treble in Saturday’s 4-3 win for Argentina was his second in successive international friendlies, and left him having contributed eight goals to the national team in his last four appearances. As well as dispelling any remaining doubts about Messi’s capacity to replicate his club form at international level, this recent scoring spurt has taken him beyond Luis Artime to fourth in the list of Argentina’s all-time leading marksmen. With 26 now to his name, the Barcelona star can now set his sights on the great Diego Maradona and Hernan Crespo, on 34 and 35 respectively, with Gabriel Batistuta’s record tally of 56 sure to be a longer-term target.