Major milestones, striking success
Peter Crouch, David Villa and Nicklas Bendtner star in this week’s statistical review, which reflects on events at the Monumental, the Stade de France, Wembley, the San Siro and the Emirates.
professional matches was the landmark celebrated by River Plate on Sunday, although the club’s current team continued their habit of not giving their supporters much to cheer. Independiente became the latest side to plunder points from Los Millonarios in a 2-0 win that took the victors clear at the head of the Clausura title race. River, meanwhile, languish 16th in the 20-team standings, continuing a dismal couple of years since their last Clausura success in 2008 was immediately followed by an unprecedented last-placed finish in the Apertura of the same year. Yet despite their current travails, River remain the most successful club side in Argentina's history, having collected more points and, crucially, more league titles (33) than any other club.
wins was the milestone reached by England at Wembley last Wednesday. Egypt briefly threatened an upset, taking a first-half lead through Mohamed Zidan, but Fabio Capello’s Three Lions secured this landmark by coming from behind to win for the first time in four years. Ironically, that last comeback success – a 2-1 win over Uruguay in March 2006 – had the same English hero. Then, as with last Wednesday, England had been behind when Peter Crouch came off the bench to transform their fortunes. His double against the African champions took the Tottenham Hotspur striker’s international tally to 20 goals from 37 appearances, 20 of which have been from bench, and all but confirmed his spot in Capello’s 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ squad. Another Spurs striker, Jermain Defoe, had started the match alongside Wayne Rooney, but suggestions that the pair do not click as a partnership were given further credence by Defoe continuing a record of never having scored when in the same line-up as the Manchester United star. Without Rooney alongside him, Defoe’s record is five in six.
years without an away win over France came to an end for Spain the same night as they emerged from Saint Denis with a thoroughly deserved 2-0 victory. La Roja’s triumph actually equalled Les Bleus’ joint-biggest defeat at the Stade de France, emulating the 2-0 victory secured by Czech Republic seven years ago. It also continued an incredible run for the European champions, who have now won 42 of their last 45 internationals and look certain to challenge strongly for a first-ever FIFA World Cup later this year. Key to their South Africa 2010 campaign will surely be David Villa, a striker who bolstered his already impressive international scoring record by taking his tally to 36 in 55 appearances. Villa now requires only eight more goals to match the all-time record of Raul, who amassed 44 goals over an international career that spanned 102 caps.
missed shots from inside the box against Burnley just about summed up the error-strewn striking performance that made Nicklas Bendtner the laughing stock of English football at the weekend. But no-one is laughing now. While Bendtner became only the second Premier League player, after Sunderland’s Darren Bent, to miss so many close-range opportunities this season, he showed last night just why Arsene Wenger rates him so highly. The 22-year-old claimed a hat-trick, the first-ever UEFA Champions League treble by a Dane, as Arsenal became the first team to put five goals past Porto in Europe’s elite competition. In doing so, Bendtner also became the first Gunner since Alan Smith in season 1991/92 to score a European hat-trick at home.
draws in Inter Milan’s last five matches have handed their rivals some much-needed encouragement in the Serie A title race and dented I Nerazzurri’s bid for an historic fifth successive scudetto. Only four points now separate Inter from their city rivals after they slumped to a second successive goalless draw at the San Siro, the first time since 1998 that the team has fired blanks in consecutive home matches. Fortunately for Inter, their principal challengers – AC Milan and Roma - were busy taking points off each other in an identical 0-0 draw at the Stadio Olimpico. While both would have hoped for more, the result nonetheless extends Roma’s unbeaten streak since 28 October to 17 matches and continues Milan’s own record of having lost just once in their last 13 away matches.