minutes – over 13 and a half hours – without conceding a goal for Spain is the run that came to an end for Iker Casillas on Tuesday night, when France striker Olivier Giroud’s 11th-hour header – 364 seconds after he came on as a substitute - denied La Roja a 25th successive victory in either FIFA World Cup™ or UEFA EURO qualifying. The Iberians’ last failure to win in one of those preliminary competitions came when they drew 1-1 in Iceland in the race for places at EURO 2008. Spain’s latest draw did at least extend their unbeaten record in FIFA World Cup qualifiers to an incredible 46 matches, with 36 wins and ten draws having followed a 1-0 loss in Denmark in March 1993.
goals in 49 matches is the magnificent total Neymar has scored in 2012, with the exceptionally gifted forward contributing 26 assists in the process. The 20-year-old has netted 37 times in 39 games for Santos in all competitions, while seven goals in his last four internationals have taken him onto eight in ten in senior Brazil contests this year. Those efforts have helped Mano Menezes’ men beat China PR 8-0, Argentina 2-1, Iraq 6-0 and Japan 4-0 – they have averaged scoring five goals per game in the process – and extend their winning run to six matches.
goals in eight games – an average of 1.5 per game – is what makes Lionel Messi the leading marksman in international football in 2012. The 25-year-old’s nearest challenger is Carlos Ruiz, who has scored ten times for Guatemala this year to improve his national record to 55 goals in 104 appearances. Messi’s previous best return for his country was the six goals in 14 outings he scored in 2007 (0.43 per game), but he struck twice in the 3-0 defeat of Uruguay and once in the 2-1 win in Chile to help Argentina go three points clear at the summit of South American qualifying for Brazil 2014 and leave himself as the seven-goal joint-leading marksman alongside team-mate Gonzalo Higuain and Uruguay’s Luis Suarez. Messi’s latest effort moved him onto 31 goals in 75 matches for Argentina, just two shy of third-placed Diego Maradona and four behind Hernan Crespo. Gabriel Batistuta has scored a record 56 goals for La Albiceleste.
goals: that was the seemingly insurmountable deficit Sweden recovered from to snatch a draw in Berlin in a Brazil 2014 qualifier and ensure Germany failed to win a match in which they led by four goals for the first time in their 108-year history. Miroslav Klose, who struck in the 6-1 thrashing of Republic of Ireland in Dublin on Friday, hit an early brace at the Olympiastadion to put Joachim Low’s side 2-0 up and leave himself just one goal shy of Germany’s 68-goal all-time record scorer, Gerd Muller. Per Mertesacker amplified the lead and when Mesut Ozil made it 4-0 before the hour, it left Germany having scored ten goals in their last 116 minutes of football – a stunning average of one goal every 11.6 minutes! However, Zlatan Ibrahimovic pulled one back in the 62nd minute, and goals from Mikael Lustig, Johan Elmander and Rasmus Elm completed one of the most sensational comebacks in football history.
of their six matches is all France won to become FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup champions on Saturday – the fewest victories a team has ever achieved to conquer a FIFA women’s tournament. Les Bleuettes drew 0-0 with USA and 1-1 with Korea DPR, before thrashing Gambia 10-2 to go through to the knockout phase as Group B runners-up on goal difference. France were held to a goalless draw by Nigeria in the quarter-finals, but edged an ensuing shoot-out to book a last-four date with Ghana, whom they beat 2-0. The French met the North Koreans again in the Final, and for the second time in succession, the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup showpiece went to penalties, which Guy Ferrier’s girls won 7-6.