Long-rangers and a league of nations
In FIFA.com’s latest stats review, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s century features alongside a long-awaited win for American Samoa, a cosmopolitan line-up in London, another title for 41-year-old Aleksandr Duric and Inigo Martinez’s latest jaw-dropping strike.
Serie A goals was the milestone reached by Zlatan Ibrahimovic on Sunday as AC Milan claimed a record-equalling reverse of Chievo. I Rossoneri’s 4-0 win was their tenth straight success against the Verona outfit, earning them a share in the Serie A record for most consecutive victories against the same opponents. Milan have now won each their last five home league matches, scoring four or more in the last three, and Ibrahimovic's predatory skills have been played a major part. Sunday’s double, his 100th and 101st Serie A strikes, saw the Swede become only the 18th foreigner to smash through the century barrier in Italy’s top flight, and only the fourth player of any nationality – the others being Giuseppe Meazza, Roberto Baggio and Christian Vieri – to manage the feat with goals for the big three of Milan (21), Inter Milan (57) and Juventus (23). Ibra wasn’t the only Serie A striker making history at the weekend though. Raffaele Rubino became the first player to score in four different divisions for the same Italian club, with the Novara stalwart’s inaugural Serie A strike coming after 16 in Serie C2, 56 in Serie C1 and six in Serie B.
yards was the distance from which Inigo Martinez scored a dramatic 92nd-minute winner for Real Sociedad at Real Betis on Sunday. The young defender’s shot, which went in off the underside of the bar from inside his own half, wide on the left, was remarkable enough in itself. Yet it is not the first time he has managed the feat. Indeed, the only two goals conceded from the opposition half in La Liga this season have both emanated from Martinez’s left boot, with the 20-year-old having produced an equally audacious effort in last month’s Basque derby against Athletic Bilbao. The youngster himself will merely be pleased that he is earning renown for spectacular goals at the right end. After all, he first came to prominence across the world in September, when a memorable own goal for Spain’s U-21s - a back-heel volley over David de Gea from 35 yards - became a global internet hit.
years is a long time to wait for a win, so American Samoa’s celebrations were suitably joyous when they finally got off the mark last week with a 2-1 victory over Tonga. This unlikely triumph ended a run of 30 straight defeats in which this island nation conceded a staggering 229 goals, 31 of which came in one infamous match against Australia in April 2001. That 31-0 scoreline still stands as the most lopsided ever seen in international football, and it was fitting that American Samoa’s goalkeeper against the Socceroos, Nicky Salapu, was back between the sticks as demons were exorcised in the first stage of Oceania’s 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ preliminaries. In fact, the plucky Polynesians, who went into the four-team competition joint-bottom of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, just missed out on second place, losing out on goals scored after following up their opening win by drawing with the Cook Islands.
different nationalities represented Arsenal in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Fulham, setting a new Premier League record. Ironically, it was the first time in over six years that Arsene Wenger had started a league match without a Frenchman in his side, although Abou Diaby did come off the bench to help complete the Gunners’ league of nations. Only three of the 22 players who started this London derby were English, the joint-lowest tally of any Premier League match this season. There was also statistical interest in the team lines at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea fielded a team with an average age of 26 years and 260 days - their youngest line-up in the top flight over the past three years. One of the Blues youngsters justifying his inclusion was Daniel Sturridge, who scored his sixth league goal of the season, leaving the 22-year-old with twice as many as Fernando Torres and Didier Drogba combined.
S.League titles with three different clubs have now been won by Aleksandr Duric after the evergreen 41-year-old helped Tampines Rovers clinch their first championship since 2005. The Bosnia and Herzegovina-born Singapore international has been a revelation since moving to the S.League ten years ago, seemingly in the twilight of his career, and is continuing to cement his status as the division’s greatest-ever striker. On target in Tampines’ title-clinching 5-0 win over Balestier Khalsa on Sunday, Duric - at the age of 41 years and 107 days - was once again the oldest goalscorer in any of the world’s top flights over the past week. His latest strike wasn’t sufficient, though, to deny Mislav Karoglan the top scorer prize, with the Singapore Armed Forces marksman’s tally of 33 the S.League’s highest since Duric – a three-time former golden boot winner – scored 37 for the same club back in 2007.