Late Quakes and fallen droughts
© AFP

Celtic, Independiente and Tottenham Hotspur ended very long winless runs, while FIFA.com’s latest stats review also focuses on the 11th-hour heroics of San Jose Earthquakes and two Juventus sequences.

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years and 22 matches since they last won at Manchester United in the league, Tottenham Hotspur repeated the feat on Saturday. Spurs’ previous victory at Old Trafford in the English top flight came when Paul Gascoigne set up Gary Lineker to score a superb, unanswered goal in December 1989, but they had since lost 18 and drawn four of their games away to the Red Devils. Jan Vertonghen and Gareth Bale – whom United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had unwittingly referred to as Christian Bale, the Hollywood actor, before kick-off – gave Tottenham a 2-0 lead to carry in at the break. Shortly into the second period, the net incredibly rippled three times inside just 139 seconds, with Nani and Shinji Kagawa on target for United either side of a Clint Dempsey effort for Spurs. And despite fierce United pressure thereafter, 3-2 is how it remained. The result left United having lost twice in their opening six matches for only the third time in Premier League history, though on the previous two occasions they went on to win the title (1992/93 and 2002/03).

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away matches without victory in the UEFA Champions League – including 19 losses – was the run Celtic ended with a pulsating 3-2 success at Spartak Moscow on Tuesday. The Bhoys’ only point on their travels had been due to a 1-1 draw against a Barcelona side including Xavi, Deco, Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto’o in 2004, and they had since suffered 11 successive defeats, leaving them one short of equalling the competition’s all-time unwanted record, which was ironically held by Spartak, set between 2000 and 2006. An Emmanuel Emenike brace put Spartak 2-1 up – and made him the first Nigerian to score twice in Europe’s top club competition since both Julius Aghahowa and Obafemi Martins did in 2004 – but Juan Insaurralde’s sending-off left Celtic with a numerical advantage. Neil Lennon’s team capitalised on it, with a Dmitri Kombarov own goal and a last-gasp Georgios Samaras headed snatching them victory.

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second-half stoppage-time goals in 2012: that is the record for a Major League Soccer season San Jose Earthquakes reached thanks to Steven Lenhart’s 95th-minute equaliser at home to FC Dallas on Saturday. The funky-haired forward had earlier put the Quakes on level terms with a superb toe-poke from outside the box – it was their 12th equaliser or match-winner after the 82nd minute this term. However, after Matt Hedges had made it 3-2 to the visitors in the 88th minute, Lenhart headed home to extend San Jose’s unbeaten run at the Buckshaw Stadium to 14 matches and ensure them a three-point lead atop of the overall standings with three rounds remaining. “We expect to score late goals,” said Alan Gordon, who set up both of Lenhart’s efforts. “Definitely. After they scored their third, Lenny looked at me and said, ‘We’re going to get this.’ And I was right there with him. There was not one feeling of doubt in me. It’s a will to dig deep, and reach where the other team doesn’t want to reach. They thought the game was over, and it was far from over.” Furthermore, Lenhart’s brace moved him on to ten goals and made the Quakes the first team since Colorado Rapids in 2002 to boast three double-digit marksmen in the same campaign (Chris Wondolowski and Alan Gordon have netted 22 and 12 goals respectively for Frank Yallop’s side).

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consecutive draws in Europe is the streak that belongs to Juventus following their 1-1 stalemate at home to Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday. I Bianconeri drew all six of their group games in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League, and after sitting out of continental competition last season, they have now draw their opening two UEFA Champions League contests (Juve drew 2-2 with Chelsea first time out). Juventus have established a much longer and more positive run on the domestic front. Indeed, Saturday’s 4-1 win over visiting Roma took them on to 45 matches unbeaten in Serie A.

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months and 15 matches without victory was the demoralising run Independiente, the record seven-time South American champions, brought to end on Sunday. Since a 2-0 win over Banfield on 28 April, Los Diablos Rojos (The Red Devils) had lost eight and drawn seven until a double from captain Ernesto Farias secured a 2-1 success at fellow strugglers Union in Round 9 of the Apertura. Independiente, one of Argentina’s ‘big five’ clubs and one of only two, alongside Boca Juniors, to have never lost their top-flight status, still remain in the relegation places.