The wait ends for Lyon and Hull
In many ways, football is a simple game: the team that scores the most goals, wins. Yet in every week, in every league and in every single match, there are intriguing statistical sub-plots that help make the beautiful game the fascinating spectacle that it is.
That's why, every week, we at FIFA.com take a look at the numbers behind the results, highlighting football's biggest winners and losers from the week just past. In this, the latest of our round-ups, as well as sympathising with Crvena Zvezda and eulogising about Marco van Basten and John Fleck, we explain why patience finally paid off for both Lyon and Hull City.
years is a long time to wait by anyone's standards, and for Lyon, the fact that it had been a quarter-of-a-century since their last Coupe de France win was becoming a source of some embarrassment. After all, 14 league and cup doubles had been secured in France down the years - but none belonged to the team who recently clinched a seventh successive championship. That, however, was until a solitary Sidney Govou goal eked out a barely-deserved 1-0 win for the champions over Paris Saint-Germain at the Stade de France on Saturday. "For 35 years this side have been waiting for a cup win," midfielder Mathieu Bodmer said afterwards. "That's now history." The win provided a fitting conclusion to the departing Gregory Coupet's glittering Lyon career, while also providing some respite for the under-fire Alain Perrin, who lifted the cup for a second season in succession having triumphed with Sochaux in last year's competition.
games without defeat might give Crvena Zvezda the longest unbeaten run in world football, but it has not been enough to bring the Serbian giants the league title. Incredibly, despite going through the entire Superliga season without tasting defeat, the team formerly known as Red Star Belgrade saw their last, lingering hopes of claiming the title extinguished on Sunday by Partizan Belgrade's 1-0 win over FK Napredak. Partizan had already won the Serbian Cup earlier this month and took the championship, the 20th of their history, by a surprisingly comfortable margin of five points thanks to their superior wins-to-draws ratio.
wins as Dutch national coach is a post-war record now shared by Dick Advocaat and Marco van Basten after the latter's Oranje team cruised to a 3-0 friendly victory over Ukraine on Saturday. The all-time record holder is Bob Glendenning, who won 37 matches with Netherlands between 1923 and 1940, but Van Basten now has the edge over his more recent predecessors, with the former AC Milan striker's tally of victories having been accrued over 45 matches, compared to Advocaat's 55. It was a good week in general for the Dutch, with Edwin van der Sar saving the decisive penalty in Moscow on a night that witnessed him become the fifth-oldest player and second-oldest goalkeeper behind Dino Zoff to play in a European Cup/UEFA Champions League final. By winning Europe's premier trophy 13 years on from his first triumph with Ajax, the Manchester United keeper also set a record for the longest gap between successful Champions League campaigns.
years and 274 days old, John Fleck became the youngest-ever player to participate in a Scottish Cup final when he featured as a substitute in Rangers' 3-2 win over second-tier Queen of the South at Hampden on Saturday. The young forward, whose uncle Robert played for Rangers during the 1980s and won four caps for Scotland, first appeared for the Ibrox club's senior side last summer while still just 15 and has been likened in style and stature to Wayne Rooney. The week's youngest goalscorer, meanwhile, was Jozy Altidore, at 18 years and 201 days, although the US international's strike was of little consolation to a demoralised New York Red Bulls side beaten 5-1 at home by Chicago Fire on Sunday.
years is all it has taken for Hull City to climb from the bottom rung of English football to the top tier. The Tigers' 104-year wait to reach the top flight ended on Saturday with a 1-0 victory over Bristol City in the Championship play-off final, and adding to the romance was the identity of the goalscorer: 39-year-old Dean Windass, a Hull-born cult hero who once made a living packing frozen peas. Hull's rise from the fourth tier to the first is not, however, the quickest on record, with Swansea (1977-81) and Wimbledon (1982-86) sharing that particular distinction. The challenge now, of course, is for Phil Brown's side to stay in Premier League - a feat that, worrying, only six of the last 16 play-off winners have achieved.