Big guns return with milestones aplenty
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Competitive club football is again underway across Europe, and stats involving Lionel Messi, Kevin Phillips, Emmanuel Riviere and Juventus feature in FIFA.com’s latest review alongside the international exploits of Gonzalo Higuain.

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career goals was the landmark reached by Lionel Messi on Sunday as Barcelona began their season with a 7-0 win over Levante. The four-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner, still just 26, has amassed that tally in 462 appearances for club and country, and can also lay claim to 139 assists. Scoring twice on Sunday took him to 27 goals in 25 league appearances in 2013. Messi’s double helped Barça record the biggest La Liga opening-day win of their history, surpassing the 8-2 defeat of Real Sociedad in 1950 and the 6-0 defeat of Valencia eight years later. The reigning champions fell short of claiming the league record, however, which is still held by Sevilla thanks to an 11-1 win over Barça themselves in 1940 and a 10-0 thrashing of Oviedo at the beginning of the following campaign.

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days after blowing out the candles on his 40th birthday cake, Kevin Phillips became the third-oldest outfield player ever to turn out in the English Premier League on Sunday. Only Teddy Sheringham (40 years, 272 days) and Gordon Strachan (40, 83) currently lead the Crystal Palace striker in that particular table, although Phillips could well surpass both over the course of the current season. However, it was not a happy return to the top flight for the veteran player or his newly promoted club, with Palace – who have been relegated in each of their four previous Premier League campaigns – losing 1-0 at home to Tottenham Hotspur. In doing so, the Eagles extended a run of never having won a home Premier League match in August, with all ten having ended either in defeats or draws. There was better news, though, for reigning champions Manchester United, who saw two of their players grab two or more goals on the opening weekend of the season for the first time since Bobby Charlton (3) and Alex Dawson (2) in 1958. Robin van Persie was one of the Red Devils’ goal heroes, and the other was Danny Welbeck, whose brace doubled in one match his tally for the entire 2012/13 campaign.

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goals in 32 international appearances is the impressive haul that has taken Gonzalo Higuain to seventh position in the list of Argentina’s all-time leading scorers. The Napoli striker topped up his tally in La Albiceleste’s 2-1 win over Italy last Wednesday and, in doing so, moved beyond Mario Kempes (20) and to within touching distance of Daniel Passarella (23) and Luis Artime (24). Nonetheless, Higuain still has some way to go before he can begin threatening Hernan Crespo and Lionel Messi – both on 35 – and the record-holder, Gabriel Batistuta, who retired with 56. Elsewhere last week, there was a return for the world’s oldest international fixture as England and Scotland met at Wembley 51,500 days on from their first encounter at the West of Scotland Cricket Club in Glasgow. It was a thrilling encounter too, with England eventually winning 3-2: the first match in which both sides have scored two or more goals since Scotland won by an identical scoreline in 1967.

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goals in four minutes and 41 seconds propelled Juventus to a record-equalling 4-0 win in over Lazio in the SuperCoppa final. Not only was the scoreline the joint-highest in the tournament’s history, equalling Napoli’s 5-1 win over Juve themselves in 1990; it took the Turin giants level with AC Milan’s previously unmatched haul of six SuperCoppa wins. The scoring was kicked off by Paul Pogba, who started the match on the bench but managed to find the net just two minutes and 35 seconds after coming on as a first-half substitute. Another team enjoying a 4-0 win on Sunday were Inter Milan, whose convincing Coppa Italia triumph over Cittadella was their biggest victory in over 20 months.

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goal every 26 minutes is the astonishing scoring rate that Emmanuel Riviere has established at the start of the Ligue 1 season. Having come off the bench to inspire Monaco to an opening 2-0 win over Bordeaux, the French forward was rewarded with a start against Montpellier and justified that decision with a first-ever career hat-trick. Riviere has been nothing if not clinical, scoring with all four of his efforts on target this season, and is the first Monaco player to score a Ligue 1 hat-trick since Javier Chevanton in 2005. There was also joy for Riviere’s former club, Saint-Etienne, who won their second successive match without conceding a goal for the first time since 1973.