Bale brilliance, Parisian milestones & a big upset
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Two jaw-dropping results, a long unbeaten run and a host of figures from the Parc de Princes feature in a FIFA.com stats review that involves Gareth Bale, David Beckham, Bernard, Santi Cazorla, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Michael McGlinchey and Ronaldinho.

400

is the number of Ligue 1 appearances Sylvain Armand moved on to when he turned out for Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday, and the number of players to have represented the 1970-founded capital club after David Beckham came off the bench for them later in that game against Marseille. Armand is third on the list of active players to have made the most appearances in the French top flight, behind his former PSG team-mate and current Bastia goalkeeper Mickael Landreau (575) and Lyon right-back Anthony Reveillere (471). Meanwhile Beckham, at 37 years and nine months, became the oldest outfield Ligue 1 player since Claude Makelele in May 2011 (38 years and three months). PSG were dominated in the possession stakes for the first time at home this season (41 per cent to 59 per cent) and had to wait until the 63rd minute for their first shot on target, but an early own-goal and another from Zlatan Ibrahimovic – with his club’s 100th in competitive games against OM – secured a 2-0 win. It was the first time in 14 league matches Marseille had failed to score against PSG, and their fourth straight competitive defeat at the Parc des Princes.

10

successive victories was the sequence UAE Pro League leaders Al Ain had extinguished in the mother of all upsets last Thursday: defeat at home to a rock-bottom Dibba side whom they had never failed to beat by at least five goals! The defending and record ten-time champions had scored 35 goals and conceded just six while taking those 30 points from a possible 30, and they kicked off the match a whopping 33 points clear of their visitors after just 15 rounds. However, Luiz Fernando put Dibba ahead in the first half – the Brazilian attacking midfielder rippled the Al Ain net for the first time in 317 minutes in the process – and, largely thanks to some exceptional goalkeeping from Mohammad Salem, that’s how it remained. It was Al Ain’s first defeat in 24 matches in all competitions, and it allowed both Al Jazira and Bani Yas to cut their lead to six points with ten rounds remaining.

7

successive victories is what Western Sydney Wanderers have posted to set the joint-second longest winning streak in A-League history and rocket into contention to lift the Premiership trophy. The winners of the prize will move directly into a play-off semi-final, have home advantage in it, and qualify automatically for the group stage of the AFC Champions League 2014. It’s been a wonderful turnaround for the Wanderers, who began their debut campaign in the competition by failing to score in their first three matches and picking up just one point in the process. A deflected Aaron Mooy strike proved enough for Tony Popovic’s side, who have been inspired by the likes of Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Shinji Ono, Youssouf Hersi and Mark Bridge, to beat Perth Glory on Saturday – five of Western Sydney’s last six wins have been by a single goal – and assume the A-League leadership. However, Central Coast Mariners – aided by a second-half hat-trick from Michael McGlinchey – regained top spot by thrashing Melbourne Victory. Western Sydney will now head to Central Coast on Saturday hoping to leapfrog their opponents and equal the A-League record of consecutive wins, set by Melbourne Victory in 2006.

6

league goals from outside the box: that is what Gareth Bale became only the second player from Europe’s ‘big five’ championships to score – alongside Barcelona’s Lionel Messi – following his brace of long-rangers for Tottenham Hotspur at West Ham United on Monday evening. The second of those, yet another breathtaking strike, snatched Spurs a last-gasp 3-2 victory and took Bale on to eight goals in his last six games in all competitions. Spurs have now netted 47 times and conceded 32 in 27 league matches under Andre Villas-Boas – the exact same figures Chelsea registered in their 27 outings under the former Porto coach. Bale, for his part, has scored more goals than any other Premier League player in 2013 (6) and more away from home than any other this season (11) – not bad for a non-striker! Only two men have bettered the electrifying 23-year-old’s 15 goals in the English top flight in 2012/13: Robin van Persie (19) and Luis Suarez (18). Joint-second on the list of highest-scoring non-strikers are Chelsea’s Frank Lampard and Santi Cazorla (both 11), whose double in a 2-1 win over Aston Villa made him the first Arsenal player to score ten goals in his debut Premier League campaign since Thierry Henry in 1999/2000 and the fifth Spaniard to reach double figures in a single season in the competition, after Fernando Torres, Cesc Fabregas, Michu and Juan Mata.

5

goals on home soil: that is what an Argentinian team conceded to foreign opposition for the first time in Copa Libertadores history on Tuesday evening. Atletico Mineiro headed to Arsenal having lost their last five away matches in the tournament, and that losing run looked like being extended when Julio Cesar Furch fired the hosts after just 74 seconds. However, by half-time the Brazilians led 3-2 – no foreign side had ever scored three first-half goals away in Argentina in the Libertadores – and with Ronaldinho at his creative best and three-goal Bernardo, the 20-year-old Brazil international, in scintillating form, Cuca’s men won 5-2. The result left Atletico top of Group 3, with maximum points from two outings, and Arsenal pointless at the bottom.