Starlets, an Octopus and a King

Historic achievements by two 20-year-olds decorate’slatest stats review, along with a supersonic goal and droughts ending for a player in Amsterdam and a country in Cordoba.


attempts is what it took Paul Pogba to score his first international goal from outside the 18-yard box. Of the 23-year-old midfielder’s six previous goals for France, three were headers and two were shots from inside the six-yard box. Pogba’s unanswered screamer at the Amsterdam Arena means France have recorded three consecutive defeats of the Netherlands for the first time ever. The result left the Dutch having lost twice to the same side inside a calendar year for the first time since 1962, when Belgium’s Paul Van Himst was their hangman.


years after they first faced Argentina away in FIFA World Cup™ qualifying, Paraguay finally won there. Heading into their quest to reach Russia 2018, La Albiceleste had only lost twice at home in qualifying history – 5-0 to Colombia in 1993 and 3-1 to Brazil in 2009. However, Derlis Gonzalez’s unanswered goal at the Estadio Mario Alberto Kempes on Tuesday means Argentina have lost the same number in this campaign alone. Paraguay’s success was facilitated by Sergio Aguero’s fifth penalty miss in seven months for club and country.


years and 11 months was the age at which Andre Silva eclipsed Eusebio to become Portugal’s youngest hat-trick scorer. ‘The Black Panther’ did it one day before his 23rd birthday in victory over Turkey in an England 1966 qualifier. Silva also became, in just 37 minutes, the fastest player to net a treble for Portugal from the start of a match. The previous record belonged to Francisco Palmeiro, who took 43 minutes to score thrice, on his international debut, against a Spain side featuring Francisco Gento and Hector Rial in 1956. Only another two players have managed hat-tricks before half-time for Portugal. Nuno Gomes scored his third against Andorra in 2001 after 44 minutes, while Pauleta did so in first-half stoppage time in an 8-0 rout of Kuwait two years later.


seconds is, astonishingly, all it took Christian Benteke to score the quickest goal in World Cup qualifying or finals history against Gibraltar on Monday. It pipped the record San Marino’s Davide Gualtieri had held since stunning England in 1993, and ended Benteke’s 19-month international goal drought. The Kinshasa-born striker, who joined Crystal Palace in August having undergone a difficult run for Liverpool and Belgium, went on to post a hat-trick and has now scored six goals in his last five starts for club and country.


successive Chile goals in World Cup qualifying: that is what Arturo Vidal became the first player in history to score – and he’s not even a forward! Ivan Zamorano and Marcelo Salas had both managed to score four consecutive Chile goals in the France 1998 preliminaries. Vidal’s brace grabbed La Roja a 2-1 triumph – their first win in four matches in Russia 2018 qualifying – that made it 12 wins out of their last 13 meetings with arch-rivals Peru. The 29-year-old Bayern Munich enforcer, who took 17 appearances to score his first international goal, has now netted ten times in his last 16 World Cup qualifiers.


Kelechi Iheanacho has become the first player to score for Nigeria in four successive matches. The late, great Rashidi Yekini managed to do it in three straight games at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations in 1990, and Samson Siasia followed suit within two years. More impressively, the 20-year-old’s goals against Mali, Luxembourg, Tanzania and Zambia were all winners, with the latter on Sunday giving the Super Eagles a positive start to the third round of African qualifying for Russia 2018. Iheanacho, who won the adidas Golden Ball for inspiring Nigeria to FIFA U-17 World Cup glory in 2013, has also netted two goals in two starts for Manchester City in the 2016/17 Premier League.