Heroes and heroines honoured
© Foto-net

In many ways, football is a simple game: the team that scores the most goals, wins. Yet 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, each week, FIFA.com takes a look at the numbers behind the results.

This week's review is dominated by two award-winners at the FIFA World Player Gala - Marta and Palestine - while Chelsea's woes also catch the eye along with the emergence of one talented young striker and the continued excellence of a rather more experienced fellow frontman.

500

La Liga appearances was the milestone reached by Raul on Sunday and he marked the occasion in predictable style with the second goal in Real Madrid's 3-0 win over Real Mallorca. Only five players - Andoni Zubizarreta, Eusebio, Francisco Buyo, Manuel Sanchis and Miguel Soler - had previously reached this landmark and, at 31, Raul is the youngest to have managed the feat. The long-serving striker, who is within two goals of equalling Alfredo di Stefano's tally of 307 goals for Real, now stands just 23 appearances short of the club appearance record held by Sanchis, a former team-mate. Zubizarreta's record total of 622 top flight appearances looks to be a tall order, but the man himself is ruling nothing out. "I've given 14 years of my life to this badge and I'm still hungry," he said.

50

days shy of his 18th birthday, Sydney FC's Kofi Danning became the week's youngest scorer when he grabbed an 85th-minute match-winner against Wellington Phoenix. The Ghana-born forward, who moved to Australia aged seven, made the all-important contribution in just his second senior appearance. Danning was set to represent his adopted country in this week's Youth Olympics only to remain with his Sydney team for their critical encounter with Queensland Roar. "It's the best thing to ever happen to me," said the youngster of his headline grabbing strike. "I've been practising my shooting and it paid off."

13

months and 20 matches without an away defeat was the record surrendered by Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday. The Londoners, whose last defeat on the road had come on 16 December 2007 at Arsenal, went down 3-0 at the Theatre of Dreams as Rooney, Ronaldo and Co dealt a severe blow to their title ambitions. This emphatic loss also continued Chelsea's miserable recent record against their so-called 'big four' rivals, with the Blues having won only three of their 16 matches against United, Arsenal and Liverpool since the start of the 2006/07 season. To rub salt in the wounds of the Stamford Bridge club, United are also closing in on their record of ten consecutive Premier League clean sheets, with Edwin van der Sar having now gone eight games and 763 minutes without conceding.

7

goals was the margin by which two Palestinian clubs won in a memorable week for football in the embattled nation. The drama began last Tuesday with an 8-1 win for league leaders Wadi Al-Neiss away to struggling Nadi Abu Dis, a result that left Palestine's pacesetters four points clear of Markaz Shabab Al-Am'arim, who have a game in hand. Four days later, mid-table Hilal Ariha sent an 'anything you can do' message to the leaders, putting seven unanswered goals past bottom club Ittihad Nablus to equal the week's biggest winning margin. With these matches being played against a backdrop of violence in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian football's continued development of the game was recognised on Monday when the country was awarded the inaugural Development Award at the FIFA World Player Gala in Zurich.

3

successive FIFA Women's World Player awards have seen Marta emulate Birgit Prinz, who monopolised the female game's ultimate individual honour between 2003 and 2005. The brilliant Brazilian, still just 22, has now also succeeded in eclipsing the women's game's great pioneer, Mia Hamm, who claimed the first-ever FIFA Women's World Player award in 2001 before retaining the trophy the following year. It represents a remarkable achievement for Marta, the challenge for whom is now to inspire Brazil - silver medallists at their last three major tournaments - to throw off the tag of perennial bridesmaids. Following Monday's Gala, the Canarinhas talisman also confirmed that she is to begin a new adventure at club level, having agreed to join Los Angeles Sol for the start of USA's new Women's Professional Soccer league season.