Patience, prolificity and a prodigy
This week, record-breaking feats from Porto, Fenerbahce and Cristiano Ronaldo feature alongside Francesco Grandolfo’s debut hat-trick and the conclusion of a mammoth title drought.
years without a league title was the wait that came to a long-awaited end for Lille on Saturday. No team in the history of the French top flight has endured such a long drought in between championships, so it was with some relief that Rudi Garcia’s side clinched the third top-flight crown of the club’s history and first since 1954 with a 2-2 draw at Paris Saint-Germain. Having already beaten the same opponents in the Coupe de France final a week before, Les Dogues’ latest success sealed a domestic double – the 16th seen in French football. Rudi Garcia’s side have been Ligue 1’s highest scorers this season with 65 goals, 22 of which have come from leading marksman Moussa Sow, while the sought-after Eden Hazard has created more chances (83) and completed more dribbles (98) than anyone else in the division.
goals in all competitions, one more than Lionel Messi, is the magnificent tally with which Cristiano Ronaldo has ended season 2010/11. With 40 of those having come in La Liga, the Real Madrid talisman has set a new record for the Spanish top flight, surpassing the benchmark set by Athletic Bilbao legend Telmo Zarra (1950/51) and matched by Hugo Sanchez (1989/90). Ronaldo topped up his tally with 11 goals in Real’s last four appearances to become only the eighth player to win Europe’s Golden Shoe twice, having previously claimed the honour with a 31-goal haul for Manchester United in 2007/08. He is also just the second man in history to top both the English and Spanish scoring charts, with Ruud van Nistelrooy his sole predecessor in this respect. Thanks largely to their record-breaking No7, Real Madrid have outscored Barcelona for the second successive season, becoming the first team in La Liga history to accumulate over 100 goals in two consecutive campaigns.
years and 300 days was the age at which Francesco Grandolfo marked his first Serie A start with a hat-trick in Bari’s 4-0 win at Bologna on Sunday. In doing so, the Castellana-born youngster became the youngest player to score a treble in any of Europe’s five major leagues in over six years, since Jeremy Menez managed it for Sochaux in January 2005. Remarkably, Grandolfo is also first player in Bari’s history to score a top-flight hat-trick away from home, and his goals helped Serie A’s bottom club hit four on the road for the first time since a 4-2 win at Triestina in October 1940. Nor was he the only Italian striker who enjoyed a weekend to remember, with Antonio Di Natale securing the Capocannoniere for the second consecutive season. In racking up 28 goals, one short of his tally from last term, the Udinese captain became the first player since Giuseppe Signori in 1992/93 and 1993/94 to finish as Serie A’s leading marksman in successive campaigns. His next challenge? To emulate Michel Platini’s Capocannoniere hat-trick, achieved between 1983 and 1985.
Turkish top-flight titles is the tally that has enabled Fenerbahce to eclipse Galatasaray as the most successful team in their nation’s history. Fener, who previously shared the record with their old rivals, added this latest championship after the tightest of title races with Trabzonspor. The Black Sea outfit had looked to be on the verge of a first league crown in 27 years until a late surge from their Istanbul rivals, which culminated in a seven-match winning streak at the season’s end, led to the teams finishing level on points. The title was then decided by their head-to-head record, with Fenerbahce taking the trophy thanks to an aggregate score of 4-3.
UEFA Europa League victories have enabled Porto to set a new record for European wins in a single season, surpassing Barcelona’s haul of 13 from 2002/03. The Portuguese champions’ latest success came in the tournament final against Braga and saw them become the first team to win two separate domestic and European trebles. Andre Villas-Boas’s side’s victory was anything but emphatic, with the decisive goal produced by their only effort on target. No prizes, however, for guessing the identity of their match-winner, with Radamel Falcao scoring his 38th goal of the season and increasing his already record European tally to 17. Falcao also became the first Colombian to score in a European final. The Dublin showpiece had a distinctly South American flavour, with nine Brazilians in the sides’ starting line-ups, breaking the record for a European final, set when six took part in Shakhtar Donetsk’s 2009 triumph over Werder Bremen.