Dismissals, debuts and comeback kids
© Getty Images

FIFA.com’s latest stats review involves a tour through four different continents, with red cards in Austria featuring alongside the return of a famous club in the USA, a debut in Argentina, a late Paris Saint-Germain winner and a record defeat for one of Africa’s most successful clubs.

95

 minutes were on the clock in Libreville’s Friendship Stadium when PSG’s Alex headed home the decisive goal in Friday’s Trophee des Champions final against Bordeaux. The French champions had gone into the match having won just two of their previous ten meetings with Les Girondins and looked to be heading for another defeat until nine minutes from time, when Hervin Ongenda drew them level. Extra time and penalties then seemed to be looming, which would have been worrying for a PSG side that had lost all three of its most recent Trophee des Champions on spot-kicks. That, however, was until Alex popped up with the final seconds ticking away to secure the trophy for his club for the third time, leaving them second only to seven-time winners Lyon.

46

 seconds of Maximilian Hofmann’s Rapid Vienna debut had elapsed when a rash decision by the 19-year-old brought it to a swift end. A professional foul on Sturm Graz’s Robert Beric, who was running clean through on goal, resulted in a straight red card and added Hofmann’s to a long list of infamous debuts. At least the teenager had the consolation of knowing that, despite his dismissal – and Graz scoring the resulting penalty – his team battled back to win the game 4-2. Another Austrian Bundesliga side did pay the price for indiscipline. Admira Wacker were 1-0 up against Grodig and yet went on to lose 7-1, having picked up three red cards and conceded three penalties en route to this crushing defeat. The Modling outfit are just the third club this century to see three players dismissed in a single Austrian top-flight match, with Salzburg (2000) and Sturm Graz (2005) the others.

29

 years after their last competitive match, New York Cosmos returned to action on Saturday with a 2-1 win over Fort Lauderdale Strikers in the second-tier NASL. A sellout crowd of 11,929 was joined by Cosmos legends Pele, Teofilo Cubillas and Carlos Alberto, as well as the family of record scorer Giorgio Chinaglia, who passed away last year. Yet the return of the former poster boys of American soccer was not the only eye-catching statistic to emerge from the US over the past week. Clint Dempsey, the national team’s second-highest all-time scorer with 35 goals, also returned to his homeland from Tottenham Hotspur, joining Seattle Sounders for a Major League Soccer record fee of $9m. The news is a further boost to the Sounders, who have become known as the MLS’s best-supported club, attracting a league-high average attendance of 40,520 during their most recent campaign.

26

 years after his father made his professional debut against Gimnasia La Plata, Giovanni Simeone stepped out against the same team to take his own professional bow. Sadly for the 18-year-old son of Diego Simeone, the symmetry didn’t end there. Just as his father’s first Velez Sarsfield appearance had ended in a 2-1 defeat to Gimnasia, so El Lobo triumphed over Giovanni’s River by a one-goal margin thanks to Lucas Licht’s solitary strike. The goalscoring Gimnasia left-back, who wears the No25 jersey, proved though to be something of an exception in the Argentinian top flight over the weekend. It was, after all, a round of matches in which No9s excelled, claiming 12 of the 22 goals scored, with Mauro Obolo (Godoy Cruz), Lucas Pratto (Velez), Martin Cauteruccio (Lanus), Carlos Luna (Rosario Central) and Santiago Silva (Lanus) all grabbing braces.

11

years and 23 matches without a home defeat in the CAF Champions League group phase was the run that came to a shock end on for Al Ahly on Sunday. The Cairo giants were not merely beaten, but beaten convincingly as South Africa’s Orlando Pirates inflicted their hosts’ heaviest home loss in Champions League history with three unanswered goals. Though Ahly supporters will point to the fact that the match was held away from the Egyptian capital, in the Red Sea resort of El Gouna, this latest setback has left their team in an unenviable position. With two matches played, they prop up Group A on one point, with bitter rivals Zamalek three behind the leading duo of Pirates and AC Leopards.