In many ways, football is a simple game: the team that scores the most goals, wins. Yet in every week, in every league and in every single match, there are intriguing statistical sub-plots that help make the beautiful game the fascinating spectacle that it is.
That's why, every week, we at FIFA.com take a look at the numbers behind the results, highlighting football's biggest winners and losers from the week just past. In this, the latest of our round-ups, we reflect on the achievements of Messrs. Canizares, Donovan and Inzaghi among others, while explaining why Standard Liege and Celtic's Scott McDonald missed out on records of their own.
Spanish league matches is a milestone that, until very recently, Santiago Canizares looked highly unlikely to reach. The 38-year-old goalkeeper had, after all, found himself firmly out in the cold under Ronald Koeman, the Dutchman having taken the fateful and ultimately fatal decision to sideline Canizares and his fellow Valencia stalwarts Miguel Angulo and David Albelda. Koeman's departure, however, paved the way for the long-serving former Spain international to return to the fold, and it was fitting that he should mark his 500th appearance in Spain's top two tiers with a clean sheet. Angulo also returned to reach a landmark of his own - 300 La Liga games for Los Che - and the pair combined to secure a 3-0 win over Osasuna that helped the troubled Spanish giants avoid their longest losing streak since 1997.
meetings makes Everton versus Aston Villa the English top flight's most-played fixture. This statistic might surprise those fans who have only become familiarised with the English scene since the advent of the Premier League in 1992, but the records will show that the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea cannot compete with the Toffees and Villains' combined tally of 203 seasons in the nation's upper tier. Perhaps even more remarkable is the fact that the balance of power in these 186 meetings is perfectly poised, with these venerable football institutions boasting 70 wins apiece. Rarely, however, have Everton and Villa been as evenly-matched as this season, and Sunday's 2-2 stalemate at Goodison - the fixture's 46th draw - has kept both these European rivals firmly in the hunt to claim fifth place.
years ago, on 3 January 1966, Stevie Chalmers - one of Jock Stein's fabled Lisbon Lions - scored a hat-trick as Celtic coasted to a 5-1 derby victory over arch-rivals Rangers. In the decades since, no-one from either side of the Glasgow divide has managed to emulate that feat in a league match, so when Scott McDonald - already with a double to his name - won a penalty in Sunday's Old Firm clash at Celtic Park, many assumed history was about to be made. The complication? The Aussie had missed a penalty at the same end, against the same opponents, less than two weeks earlier and with the score tied at 2-2 and Celtic's title hopes hinging on ball hitting net, the psychological burden was adjudged too great. Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and Shunsuke Nakamura had been designated as the Bhoys' first and second-choice takers, but it was Barry Robson who grabbed the ball and slammed home a spot-kick that lifted Celtic five points clear of a Rangers team who still hold three games in hand.
successive matches without defeat now gives Anorthosis Famagusta the longest unbeaten run in world football. The Cypriots can lay claim to this honour after Standard Liege watched their hopes of becoming the first Belgian side in 74 years to survive an entire season undefeated evaporate in Sunday's Walloon derby. Charleroi did what no team has managed since Excelsior on 19 May 2007 by inflicting a league defeat on the newly-crowned champions, this as Anorthosis were enjoying a break from a campaign that has seen them cruise to a 13th Cypriot League title. Having dethroned APOEL Nicosia as champions, the team managed by former Georgia and Newcastle United star Temuri Ketsbaia are now just 180 minutes away from going one better than Standard by ending the season without a single defeat.
years without a domestic trophy came to an end for Feyenoord on Sunday when the Rotterdam giants lifted the Dutch Cup for the 11th time. The nine-year drought was the longest Feyenoord had endured since the introduction of professional football in the Netherlands in 1954, with their last domestic prize having come in August 1999 in the Dutch Super Cup. A continental triumph in the 2002 UEFA Cup did provide some welcome cheer during this period of underachievement, but Feyenoord will hope that Sunday's 2-0 win over Roda JC can act as a springboard for them to return to a position of strength in the traditionally dominant Dutch trinity which also comprises PSV Eindhoven and Ajax.
goals represents the kind of return some strikers can only hope to muster over an entire season. Landon Donovan and Filippo Inzaghi, by contrast, have managed to rack up this tally in their last four games, earning both richly deserved praise. After Donovan hit a hat-trick in Los Angeles Galaxy's 5-2 victory over city rivals Chivas USA on Saturday, team-mate David Beckham led the tributes: "He's a special player. He proved tonight that he's not just about scoring goals inside the box." Carlo Ancelotti was similarly effusive in his praise after the phenomenon that is Superpippo nabbed a trademark poacher's treble in a 4-1 win at Livorno. "He, like Kaka, is in great form," said the AC Milan coach. "Right now they're forming a formidable partnership."