Friday 28 April 2017, 08:48

Dollars, droughts and a half-millennium

  • A sextet emulating R9, Batigol, ‘The Divine Ponytail’ & Co

  • Woody Woodpecker pecking into an impregnable barrier

  • Solo stars making more than rival clubs’ entire staff


goals for one club is what Barcelona’s Lionel Messi became just the eighth footballer in history to score after Jimmy McGrory (Celtic), Josef Bican (Slavia Prague), Fernando Peyroteo (Sporting), Jimmy Jones (Glenavon), Uwe Seeler (Hamburg), Pele (Santos) and Gerd Muller (Bayern Munich). ‘The Atomic Flea’ hadn’t netted in six appearances against Real Madrid, but broke his drought with a brilliant equaliser to outrank Alfredo di Stefano and become the outright record marksman in league instalments of El Clásico. Then, after Sergio Ramos had earned the 22nd red card of his career for a lunge at Messi, and with just 13 seconds left on the clock, the 29-year-old Argentinian finished off a bewitching counter-attack to bring up the half-millennium and snatch Barça one of their most dramatic all-time victories over Real.


Premier League goals is what it took Diego Costa just 85 appearances to register – the eighth-fastest in history. The only players to reach the half-century in fewer outings were Andy Cole (65), Alan Shearer (66), Ruud van Nistelrooy (68), Fernando Torres (72), Sergio Aguero (81), Thierry Henry (83) and Kevin Phillips (83). Luis Suarez (86) and Ian Wright (87) complete the top ten. Costa ended a five-game goal drought – his longest in the league since he was at Atletico Madrid in 2012/13 – with a double in Chelsea’s 4-2 win over Southampton. One of the 28-year-old striker’s goals was provided by Cesc Fabregas, who consequently moved above Frank Lampard and into outright second (103) on the Premier League’s all-time assists’ chart, shy only of Ryan Giggs (162).


hours and 49 minutes: that is the staggering length of time Bayern Munich had gone without trailing in a DFB-Pokal game until Marco Reus fired Borussia Dortmund ahead on Wednesday. Since Bayern lost the 2012 final 5-2 to a Robert Lewandowski-inspired Dortmund, they had gone 27 matches without being behind in the competition, lifting the trophy thrice in the process and being eliminated on penalties by BVB in the 2014/15 semis. Bayern recovered from Reus’s fourth goal in as many appearances to lead at half-time, but Ousmane Dembele’s 19th assist in 44 outings for Dortmund set up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s 35th goal of the season to equalise. Dembele, 19, then hit the winner to make Dortmund the first team in history to reach four successive DFB-Pokal finals. It also left Bayern having failed to win in five matches for the first time in 17 years, since Oliver Kahn, Stefen Effenberg, Elber and Co failed to beat Hertha Berlin, Dynamo Kiev, Kaiserslautern, Wolfsburg and Porto.


MLS players astoundingly earn more than entire payrolls of four clubs. The release of the championship’s salaries for the new season on Tuesday revealed that (Kaka $7.17m per season), Sebastian Giovinco ($7.12m), Michael Bradley ($6.5m), Andrea Pirlo ($5.9m), David Villa ($5.6m) and Giovani dos Santos ($5.5m) receive more than DC United, Houston Dynamo, Minnesota United and Montreal Impact. The aforementioned quartet’s highest earners are Luciano Acosta ($0.5m), Erick Torres ($0.65m), Vadim Demidov ($0.55m) and Matteo Mancosu ($0.7m) respectively. Bastian Schweinsteiger ($5.4m), Jozy Altidore ($4.9m), Clint Dempsey ($3.9m) and Diego Valeri ($2.6m) complete the top ten. The payroll of Toronto FC, who employ Giovinco, Bradley and Altidore, is $22.5m, which is $4.6m more than the second-highest-paying team New York City, whose budget decreased dramatically following the retirement of Frank Lampard ($6m).


minutes and 19 seconds is all it took Lazio’s Balde Keita to score the quickest Serie A hat-trick in 42 years. Juventus forward Pietro Anastasi had hit three goals a few seconds faster against, ironically, Lazio in 1975. Keita’s third against Palermo made Le Aquile the first team to score five goals in the opening 26 minutes of an Italian top-flight game since Juve did so against Fiorentina in 1938. Ciro Immobile got Lazio’s first two goals, taking him on to 20 for the season. It ensured that, with Andrea Belotti, Edin Dzeko, Mauro Icardi, Gonzalo Higuain and Dries Mertens having already reached the milestone, six players surpassed 19 Serie A goals for only the fourth time in history after 1949/50, 1950/51 and 1997/98. The latter occasion owed to Oliver Bierhoff, Ronaldo, Roberto Baggio, Gabriel Batistuta, Alessandro Del Piero and Vincenzo Montella.

Quick hits 9 years after Javier Mascherano’s last league goal at club level – the Liverpool enforcer uncharacteristically tricked a Reading player before venomously firing home from outside the box – the 32-year-old finally ended his drought by scoring from the spot Barcelona’s 500th goal under Luis Enrique.

7 players have now scored in the English, German, Italian and Spanish top flights after Mainz forward Bojan Krkic joined Florin Raducioiu, Gica Popescu, Jon Dahl Tomasson, Pierre Wome, Obafemi Martins and Kevin Prince-Boateng.