Friday 21 April 2017, 09:25

Origins, wunderkinds and the pride of Pot 4

  • A mockery of the seedings on the Old Continent

  • A kid and 'The Kid' illuminating Stateside

  • A mini-Messi rising out East


matches is, incredibly, what it took Juventus to field the same starting XI in back-to-back UEFA Champions League appearances. Massimiliano Allegri’s decision to stick with the players who won 3-0 in Turin paid dividends. Juve drew 0-0 to become only the third team to concede zero goals against Barcelona in a tie in the competition – the previous two, Manchester United in 2007/08 and Bayern Munich in 2012/13, went on to lift the trophy in those campaigns. Juventus have now gone almost nine hours without conceding a goal in the Champions League, with Gigi Buffon’s latest clean sheet ending Barça’s run of 15 successive victories at Camp Nou in the tournament, during which they had bagged 50 goals.


goals before he turned 22 was what Cyle Larin became the first player in Major League Soccer history to reach – albeit by just two days. The Orlando City forward, in his penultimate day as a 21-year-old, fired a stoppage-time sliding volley into the roof of LA Galaxy’s net to snatch a 2-1 victory. It was the Florida outfit’s fourth successive single-goal victory at Orlando City Stadium, making them the first-ever MLS side to win their first four games at their new home – LA Galaxy, New York Red Bulls and San Jose Earthquakes had begun life at Home Depot Center in 2003, Red Bull Arena in 2010 and Avaya Stadium in 2015 with ten points from a possible 12. Larin, who made his Canada debut while still playing college soccer for the Connecticut Huskies and was the overall first pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, has hit four goals in as many games at the downtown Orlando venue.


different nationalities: that is what Granada became the first team in La Liga history to begin a game with – and they didn’t even start with a Spaniard! English manager Tony Adams selected for his first game in charge Guillermo Ochoa (Mexico), Matthieu Saunier (France), Sverrir Ingi Ingason (Iceland), Ruben Vezo (Portugal), Gaston Silva (Uruguay), Uche Agbo (Nigeria), Mubarak Wakaso (Ghana), Rene Krhin (Slovenia), Andreas Pereira (Brazil), Artem Kravets (Ukraine) and Ezequiel Ponce (Argentina). Opponents Celta Vigo kicked off with six Spaniards and won 3-0 to leave Granada with just one point from a possible 21. It also left Celta unbeaten in nine meetings with Granada.


goals is what Perth Glory and Melbourne City served on the final day of the regular season – enough to tie the highest-scoring match in A-League history but insufficient for the Glory to ensure the teams’ upcoming playoff will unfold in Western Australia rather than Victoria. The Glory required victory over City by a four-goal margin to pip their opponents to third place on goal difference, and raced into a 4-1 lead when Nebo Marinkovic smashed home a free-kick with his first touch after coming on. However, a game which produced seven second-half goals – and four in the last ten minutes – ultimately finished only 5-4 in Perth’s favour, with Tim Cahill’s double giving him four goals in as many appearances. Elsewhere, another Melbourne-based player, Victory’s 31-year-old Kosovo forward Besart Berisha, became the first player of all time to reach 100 A-League goals.


clubs have gone from being Pot 4 seeds into the Champions League semi-finals – and now one of them has done it twice. Sirhiy Rebrov and Andriy Shevchenko propelled Dynamo Kyiv to the against-the-odds feat in 1998/99, Ludovic Giuly and Fernando Morientes helped Monaco do the same in 2003/04, and Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski were the stars of Borussia Dortmund’s unlikely run in 2012/13. Monaco were one of eight Pot 4 seeds this season – along with the likes of Rostov, Copenhagen and Ludogorets – but ended their victorious quarter-final with Dortmund by becoming the first team to score at least three goals in four successive knockout games in the Champions League. While Kylian Mbappe made more publicised stats – among them becoming the first player to score in four straight knockout matches in the tournament – one by another principality prospect went under the radar. Thomas Lemar, indeed, became the first player to record an assist in four consecutive knockout games since the great Andres Iniesta six years ago.

Quick hits 51yards is the distance from which David Villa lobbed Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake in Pennsylvania to seal New York City FC’s first away win since October.

15 years and 315 days was the age at which Takefusa Kubo became the youngest scorer in Japanese professional history on Saturday. ‘The Japanese Messi’, who was previously at Barcelona’s hallowed La Masia, tricked two opponents before lashing the ball in off the crossbar and the post to hand Tokyo U-23s a 1-0 win at Cerezo Osaka U-23s in the J3.League.