Penalties, predators and comeback kings
In FIFA.com’s latest weekly stats review, the goalscoring feats of Messrs Suarez and Higuain feature alongside comebacks for Rennes and Orlando Pirates and a late, late equaliser from Chelsea’s veteran captain.
minutes and 53 seconds were on the clock at Stamford Bridge on Saturday when John Terry’s back-heel goal sealed a 3-3 draw for Chelsea against Everton. Unsurprisingly, this ranked as the latest English Premier League goal of the season, and was the latest seen in any English top-flight match since Yakubu (98 mins, 14 seconds) for Blackburn Rovers against Wigan Athletic in November 2011. Terry had, in fact, already found the net by this stage, but at the wrong end, making him just the third player this season – after Olivier Giroud and Troy Deeney – to score a goal and an own-goal in a single Premier League match. He is the first Chelsea player to do so in almost 19 years, since Scott Minto was both hero and villain in a 1997 loss at Derby County. Terry’s own goal helped take the Blues’ goals-against tally for 2015/16 to 33, meaning that they have already conceded more this season than in their entire 2014/15 campaign.
goals in as many appearances have secured a new all-time Italian Serie A record for Gonzalo Higuain. The Napoli talisman’s goal-a-game record is the best ever seen at this stage of an Italian top-flight campaign, eclipsing the tallies of 19 registered by Inter Milan’s Istvan Nyers and Luca Toni of Fiorentina in 1949/50 and 2005/06 respectively. Higuain has already surpassed his own season’s best Serie A tally of 18 on the back of five braces in his last seven league outings, firing Napoli to a run of five straight domestic wins. Maintaining this form has become a necessity, though, because Juventus are on a superb run of their own. I Bianconeri have now racked up ten straight Serie A wins, just two short of the club’s all-time record, and have scored twice or more in each of their last seven outings. Sunday’s 4-0 demolition of Udinese maintained that sequence, with Juve scoring four goals in the first half of a league match for the first time since November 2012.
goals in 18 La Liga appearances means that, with 2016 barely underway, Luis Suarez has already surpassed his tally for last season. The Barcelona star scored a hat-trick against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday – the 21st of his career - to eclipse his 2014/15 league haul of 16. In all competitions, Suarez has contributed 29 goals and ten assists in 29 appearances this season, establishing him as the highest-scoring player in any of Europe’s top five leagues. Even Lionel Messi cannot compete at the moment, although the newly crowned FIFA Ballon d’Or winner also scored in the 6-0 win over Athletic, meaning that he has now found the net in each of his last seven appearances at the Camp Nou.
consecutive missed penalties was the French Ligue 1 run that came to a welcome and long-awaited end for Rennes on Saturday. Having not scored from the spot in 17 months, Philippe Montanier's side then proceeded to do it twice in the space of 18 minutes as Troyes were beaten 4-2. Fallou Diagne was the player who succeeded in keeping his cool, slotting away two first-half penalties to turn a 2-0 deficit into a vital win. In doing so, the Senegalese defender became the first Rennes player to score a brace of spot-kicks since Olivier Monterrubio 14 years ago. Diagne also helped inspire Rennes to come from 2-0 down to win a top-flight game for the first time since December 2012, when Troyes were again their victims.
goals down was the position from which Orlando Pirates secured an unlikely draw on Saturday with the week’s biggest comeback. The struggling Soweto giants found themselves 3-0 behind to Maritzburg United, the bottom team in South Africa’s PSL, after just 35 minutes, but battled back to claim a point that edges them away from the relegation zone. Maritzburg, meanwhile, were denied just their second win of the season, a result that would have seen them climb off the foot of the PSL table. Yet the outcome was nothing if not predictable, with the basement boys having drawn each of their last four top-flight encounters. At the other end of the table, meanwhile, Mpumalanga Black Aces sit joint-top with record champions Mamelodi Sundowns on the back of an altogether more impressive sequence. The Amazayoni have won all five of their most recent matches, leaving them well placed to challenge for a first-ever top-flight crown.