The Week in Numbers

Predators, patience and legends’ landmarks

Ecuador's Felipe Caicedo celebrates after scoring against Uruguay.

In’s latest weekly stats review, the FIFA World Cup™ goalscoring feats of Felipe Caicedo and Mohammed Al-Sahlawi feature alongside notable achievements by Hungary and two former Real Madrid team-mates.

100 international clean sheets was the amazing milestone reached by Iker Casillas on Friday, establishing him as the first keeper in history to reach a century. The Spain captain reached this landmark in his team’s dominant 2-0 win over England, a match which saw the 34-year-old earn his 165th cap – matching the European record held by Latvia’s Vitalijs Astafjevs. This also took Casillas beyond USA’s Cobi Jones into seventh place in the overall global standings. What’s more, his shutout helped secure a sixth straight win without conceding for La Roja, equalling their best-ever run in this respect. It was certainly with some degree of comfort that Vicente del Bosque’s side ended England’s 15-match unbeaten run, inflicting the Three Lions’ first reverse since their 2-1 defeat to Uruguay at Brazil 2014.

22 trophies in 21 seasons was the newly topped-up tally on which Raul ended his glittering career on Sunday. The Spain and Real Madrid legend signed out on a high by helping New York Cosmos reclaim the NASL Bowl with a championship-clinching 3-2 win over Ottawa Fury. It brought the final title of a career defined by his time at Madrid, a period which accounted for 16 of the aforementioned trophies. Since departing the Bernabeu as a triple UEFA Champions League winner and six-time La Liga champion, not to mention the club’s 323-goal record scorer (a title since taken by Cristiano Ronaldo), Raul has enjoyed successes in Germany, Qatar and, now, USA. He can also retire with the distinction of having not picked up a single red card in almost 1000 matches as a professional.

5 goals was Mohammed Al-Sahlawi’s impressive contribution to Saudi Arabia’s record 10-0 World Cup qualifying win over Timor-Leste yesterday. In orchestrating the biggest win of his national team’s history, the Al-Nassr striker also became the first player to score five times in a single World Cup preliminary match since New Caledonia’s Jacques Haeko against Samoa in 2012, and the first away from home in over 14 years (since UAE’s Yasir Salim in a 12-0 win at Brunei in April 2001). This latest scoring feat also continued a fine run of form for Al-Sahlawi, who has been prolific for Saudi Arabia this year, finding the net 18 times in his last nine appearances for the national team. Yet despite the 28-year-old’s heroics and their record win, Saudi Arabia are not the highest-scoring side in Asian Zone qualifying. That distinction belongs instead to 27-goal Qatar, who became the first team through to the third round yesterday when they maintained their perfect record thus far with a sixth straight win.

5 consecutive World Cup qualifiers have had one thing in common for Ecuador: a Felipe Caicedo goal. The Espanyol striker has found the net in each of his team’s four Russia 2018 preliminary matches thus far, and that - allied to a goal against Chile in their concluding Brazil 2014 qualifier - has enabled him to make history. Caicedo is, in fact, just the second player – after Chile’s Jorge Aravena – to score in five straight South American qualifiers, and the first Ecuadorian to manage a run of more than three. The 27-year-old, on target again in *La Tricolor’s *3-1 win in Venezuela last night, is also just the second South American to find the net in four successive away preliminary matches, with another Chilean – Humberto Suazo – the first. Having found the net with each of his first four shots on target in Russia 2018 qualifying, the deadly Caicedo has become Ecuador’s second-highest all-time scorer in World Cup preliminaries, four short of 16-goal record-holder Agustin Delgado. He has also helped his team make a perfect start to the competition, with Ecuador the first South American side in a decade-and-a-half to kick off their campaign with four straight wins.

3 decades without an appearance at a major tournament is the drought that will end for Hungary next year. That was confirmed on Sunday when this fabled football nation beat Norway in a play-off to reach just their third UEFA European Championship - and first since 1972. It ends a painful wait for Hungarian supporters, whose last opportunity to cheer on their team at a major competition came at the 1986 World Cup. Goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly, meanwhile, is set to make history by becoming the first 40-year-old to take part in the EURO. Furthermore, Hungary’s veteran No1 will do so as his country’s record caps holder, having made his 100th and 101st appearances in the play-off to equal Magyars legend Jozsef Bozsik’s long-standing benchmark.

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