Stalwarts, saints and a corner king
Unusual occurrences – an entire half without a foul and two goals direct from corner-kicks – feature alongside impressive milestones for four veritable footballing superstars in FIFA.com’s latest stats review.
Real Madrid appearances was the landmark reached by Iker Casillas on Sunday. The 30-year-old is just the sixth Merengues player – after Messrs Hierro, Gento, Santillana, Sanchis and Raul – to arrive at this milestone, although it came at the end of a thoroughly unhappy week for Casillas and his colleagues. Responsible, once again, were Barcelona, who last Wednesday became the first ever visiting team to survive seven successive visits to the Bernabeu without tasting defeat, enjoying 72 per cent of possession in the process. Not content with that achievement, the Catalans followed it up with a 4-1 win away to Malaga in which Lionel Messi scored his 10th La Liga hat-trick. With 36 goals in 32 appearances this season, the Barça No10 has become the only Liga-based player besides Hugo Sanchez – who managed the feat between 1986 and 1990 – to score 35 or more in four consecutive seasons.
Roma goals, the most recent of which came in Saturday’s 5-1 win over Cesena, have established Francesco Totti as the highest-scoring one-club man in Serie A history. The Giallorossi captain’s second consecutive league brace – his 41st overall - took him beyond the mark set by Gunnar Nordahl for AC Milan between 1945 and 1956. Totti’s opener on Saturday came after just 30 seconds, making it the third-fastest of this Serie A campaign, while his second arrived just seven minutes later - and was followed just 51 seconds later by a third from Fabio Borini. This explosive start helped Roma score five in a home Serie A fixture for the first time in over five years, since a 7-0 win over Catania in November 2006. The capital club’s only disappointment was in surrendering their run of clean sheets after 336 minutes without conceding.
goals at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations have enabled Didier Drogba to join Guinea’s Pascal Feindouno as top scorer among the players taking part in the ongoing 2012 edition. The Chelsea striker scored the only goal on Sunday as Côte d'Ivoire extended Sudan’s miserable winless sequence at the continental showpiece – a run that stretches back 42 years. The Falcons of Jediane have failed to win any of their last nine Cup of Nations matches, dating back to a famous 1-0 win over Ghana in the 1970 final. Burkina Faso, beaten 2-1 by Angola on Sunday, are just as desperate for a victory. The Burkinabe have failed to win any of their last 15 matches at the CAN, a record streak that stretches back to a 1-0 win over Guinea in 1998.
goals, both direct from corners, were scored by Paul Owens in a 3-1 victory for Northern Ireland’s Coleraine over Glenavon on Saturday. The 29-year-old took advantage of windy conditions at the Bannsiders’ Showgrounds stadium to grab his unusual double, and very nearly made it a hat-trick of corners later in the same match. Owens’ goals extended Coleraine’s unbeaten run in all competitions to 13 matches, although they remain 13 points adrift of record champions Linfield, who are steadily closing in on title number 51.
fouls were committed in the first half of Chelsea’s goalless draw at Norwich on Saturday, the first time in Premier League history that an entire half has passed without a single stoppage. It took less than a minute of the second period for the game’s first foul to be committed, but these sides nonetheless succeeded in setting a new record, eclipsing the second half of Sunderland-Chelsea last September, which witnessed just one offence. This will be of little consolation to Fernando Torres, however, who has now failed to score in 11 consecutive Premier League appearances since September – his worst drought since moving to England. Elsewhere, Robbie Keane had no such worries, with a brace for Aston Villa at Wolverhampton Wanderers leaving Republic of Ireland’s record scorer as one of just seven players who have found the net for six different Premier League clubs. Clint Dempsey also impressed, scoring his second treble in consecutive home matches and becoming the first American to claim a Premier League hat-trick in the process.