Robin van Persie making history and Karim Benzema breathing a huge sigh of relief feature in FIFA.com’s latest stats review, alongside ecstasy for Bosnia-Herzegovina and Ghana and another German centurion.
minutes was the international goal drought France striker Karim Benzema extinguished against Australia on Friday. The 25-year-old had not scored for his country since bagging a brace in a 4-0 win over Estonia in a June 2012 friendly, but after being brought on at half-time against the Socceroos, he took a mere five minutes to end the run. It helped inflict a second straight 6-0 loss, and fourth straight defeat, upon Australia, whose FA reacted by sacking coach Holger Osieck. Benzema went on to seal France’s 3-0 win over Finland in their final Group I qualifier for Brazil 2014, meaning he has netted as many goals in his last 48 minutes for Les Bleus as he did in his previous 1,698.
caps is what Bastian Schweinsteiger moved on to against Sweden, making Germany only the second country to reach double figures in centurions. USA boast 14 players on 100 or more internationals, and Germany had been level with Mexico and Sweden on nine until the Bayern Munich midfielder emulated compatriots Franz Beckenbauer, Lothar Matthaus, Jurgen Klinsmann, Jurgen Kohler, Thomas Hassler, Ulf Kirsten, Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski and Philipp Lahm on Tuesday evening. Schweinsteiger helped Joachim Low’s team emerge 5-3 victors, ensuring they recovered from 2-0 down to win for the first time in 37 years. The 36 goals Germany scored in their ten qualifiers was the second-highest ever recorded in a European qualifying group, one shy of the record Romania recorded in the France 1998 preliminaries.
international goals is what Robin van Persie stormed on to with a hat-trick in the 8-1 demolition of Hungary on Friday, taking him past Patrick Kluivert and top of the Netherlands’ list of all-time leading marksmen. The 30-year-old Manchester United striker, who only netted 14 times in his first 41 internationals (0.34 per game), has now scored 18 in his last 22 (0.82). Van Persie’s overall goals-per-games ratio (0.51) is still dwarfed by the Oranje’s record-holder Bep Bakhuys, who was on target 28 times in 23 outings (1.22) between 1928 and 1937. The former Feyenoord and Arsenal player, on 11 goals, one ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Edin Dzeko, is almost certain to finish as the top scorer in European qualifying for 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ – his closest challengers from the teams in the play-offs, Portugal’s Helder Postiga and Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Sweden, are both on six. Van Persie was not the only Rotterdam native to impress against Hungary. PSV centre-back Jeffrey Bruma admirably completed all 60 of his attempted passes in Amsterdam.
goals was the margin by which Ghana thrashed Egypt to smash the biggest-ever victory in the fixture and take a giant step towards Brazil 2014. The Black Stars’ previous best was the 3-0 they recorded in the sides’ previous encounter in January in Abu Dhabi, while the Pharaohs have won by two goals on five occasions but never by more. However, an Asamoah Gyan double propelled the Ghanaians to an emphatic 6-1 home success in part one of their scrap for a place at the 20th World Cup. Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire, who both only qualified for the global finals for the first time in 2006, are attempting to emulate Cameroon, Nigeria and Tunisia in appearing at three consecutive editions.
World Cups will have unfolded without a new representative after Bosnia-Herzegovina's qualification ensured the tradition will continue at Brazil 2014. Vedad Ibisevic’s 68th-minute strike seized Safet Susic’s side victory in Lithuania in their final Group G qualifier, and though they finished level with Greece on points, the Zmajevi (Dragons) overwhelmed their rivals in the goal-difference duel, +24 to +8. Five of the six nations affiliated to FIFA and born out of the Yugoslav dissolution will have been represented at the World Cup after Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia (Serbia and Montenegro appeared in 1998 and 2006 before Serbia participated in 2010). Another four countries are still vying to compete at a World Cup for the first time in 2014. Ethiopia’s prospects don’t look great after they lost 2-1 at home to Nigeria in the opening leg of their battle for a ticket to Brazil, but Burkina Faso will carry a slender lead into their second leg in Algeria. Jordan will fight Uruguay for qualification while Iceland, who would become the smallest nation to ever play in the competition, must wait to see who they face in the European play-offs.