Hat-tricks, veterans and Clásico rivals
Milestones for the evergreen duo of Clarence Seedorf and Graham Alexander, notable trebles from Mario Gomez and Denis Stracqualursi, and drought-ending goals from El Clásico’s biggest stars feature in FIFA.com's latest statistical review.
appearances in English professional football is a landmark that, before Saturday, only one outfield player had ever reached. Tony Ford now has company in the four-figure stakes, however, with veteran Burnley captain Graham Alexander having turned out for the 1,000th time in his side’s 2-1 win over Swansea City. The 39-year-old, who coincidentally played alongside Ford at Scunthorpe United in the early 1990s, has racked up his remarkable tally over 20 seasons in senior football, making more than 150 appearances for each of the four clubs he has represented. If anything, Alexander has improved with age, going on to win 40 Scotland caps after making his debut as a 30-year-old, and last season becoming the oldest debutant in the history of the English Premier League. But he wasn’t the only man rewriting the record books in England over the weekend. By equalising against Arsenal with 101 minutes and 48 seconds on the clock, Dirk Kuyt set a new record for the latest goal ever seen in the Premier League.
AC Milan appearances have earned Clarence Seedorf another record to add to his unique collection. No foreign player has ever played so many matches for I Rossoneri, with Seedorf edging past Nils Liedholm’s previously unsurpassed tally of 394 on Saturday. The Dutchman marked the occasion in style too, scoring his 55th Serie A goal in a comprehensive 3-0 win over Sampdoria. Milan have now conceded just one goal in their last 12 league matches at the San Siro and boast both Serie A’s strongest attack (59 goals scored) and meanest defence (23 conceded). The weekend could hardly have gone any better for Massimiliano Allegri’s side, in fact, with Inter – who have now gone 252 minutes without scoring an away league goal - suffering a third straight defeat, and Napoli losing 2-1 against bogey team Udinese to extend a run of six Serie A matches without a win against Le Zebrette.
hat-tricks have now been scored by Mario Gomez this season, making the Bayern Munich striker the third man to achieve this feat in a single Bundesliga campaign and the first since Cologne legend Dieter Muller 34 years ago. Gomez, who started alongside Miroslav Klose for the first time since 2009, now has seven top-flight trebles in all, a tally that only seven players in German football history can better. Bayern’s opener, however, came from Leverkusen’s Simon Rolfes and was the fourth own goal they have benefited from this season – more than any other team in the Bundesliga. Yet the final scoreline of 5-1 flattered the deposed champions, with Leverkusen restricting them to just 39 per cent of possession, the Bavarians’ lowest share in any match since November 2008.
goals against Boca Juniors in La Bombonera is a goalscoring feat to which few players can lay claim. Indeed, almost 15 years separated Sunday’s hat-trick hero, Tigre’s Denis Stracqualursi, from the last man to grab a treble at the home of the mighty Xeneizes. The 23-year-old’s predecessor in this respect was none other than Guillermo Barros Schelotto, who marked La Bombonera’s reopening on 5 May 1996 in unforgettable style by inspiring a stunning 6-0 win for Gimnasia La Plata. Barros Schelotto, of course, went on to sign for Boca just a few months later and became one of the club’s true legends, winning six domestic league titles and four Copa Libertadores crowns. What the future holds for Stracqualursi, the star of Sunday’s 3-3 draw, is anyone’s guess, but having topped the Apertura scoring charts, he is once again leading the way in the Clausura with eight goals, including six from his last four appearances.
goals against Barcelona; 0 goals against teams managed by Jose Mourinho. These were the respective statistics ripped up by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi on Saturday as the European Golden Shoe frontrunners struck in the first instalment of a four-part Clásico drama. Ronaldo had never scored against the Catalans in six previous meetings with Manchester United and Real Madrid, but ended this barren run with a late penalty that took his tally for the season to 41. The Real No7 had also been on target against Tottenham Hotspur earlier in the week, becoming only the fourth player in Real’s history to break through the 40-mark in a single season, following Ferenc Puskas (47, 1959/60), Alfredo Di Stefano (43, 1956/57) and Hugo Sanchez (43 in 1986/87 and 42 in 1989/90). Messi, meanwhile, also struck from the spot to end his run of 12 matches without a goal against Mourinho teams, and in doing so became Barcelona’s joint-second highest scorer in El Clásicos, moving level with Estanislau Basora on eight and within four of record-holder Cesar Rodriguez. The pair’s successful spot-kicks ensured a share of the spoils for Spain’s great rivals, the first time a league draw has been played out at the Bernabeu in over two years.