Sunday, December 11, 2016

11 December 1988 - PSV's Penalty Luck Runs Out

On 11 December 1988, Nacional eventually claimed the Intercontinental Cup, beating PSV Eindhoven in a penalty shootout that reached a total of 20 kicks.

Playing before a crowd of 62,000 at the National Stadium in Tokyo, the Copa Libertadores champions went up in the 7th minute with a powerful header from Uruguayan midfielder Santiago Ostolaza off a corner kick. They held onto their lead until the 75th minute, when PSV's Brazilian striker Romário delivered an equalizer with a header of his own.

Level at 1-1 after 90 minutes, the match went to extra time, where PSV took the lead with a 110th-minute penalty kick from center back Ronald Koeman, who sent his shot straight down the middle. But nine minutes later, with PSV looking almost certain to win, Ostolaza struck again with another header to send the match into penalty kicks.

Penalty kicks had been kind to PSV earlier in the year, as they topped Benfica in the European Cup 0-0 (6-5). But after five kicks each, the two teams were still level, having converted three each. After Ostolaza converted the ninth kick for Nacional to stay level at 6-6, PSV right back Barry van Aerle missed his kick, opening the door for the Uruguayans, who won 2-2 (7-6) after Tony Gómez converted his attempt.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

10 December 1997 - This Is How Hao Does It

On 10 December 1997, striker Hao Haidong enjoyed a record day en route to a banner year for Chinese top flight champions Dalian Wanda.

The 27-year old spent the first ten years of his career with rivals Bayi FC, where he had scored 19 goals in 48 league appearances. But in 1997, he moved to Dalian for a club-record fee of 2.2 million yuan. Dalian were already a successful side, having won the Chinese top flight title in 1994 and 1996 (having gone undefeated in the latter season with 12 wins and 10 draws), but the addition of Hao improved both club and player.

At Dalian, Hao began scoring at a blazing pace, eventually winning the league's golden boot with a total of 14. But his biggest haul came on 10 December when he put four past the keeper in a 5-2 rout of Guangdong Hongyuan. It matched the single-match goal record set by Hu Zhijun in 1994 and, though it has been repeated on six subsequent occasions, it has never been topped.

Dalian proceeded to win the league title that season with 15 wins, 6 draws, and 1 loss to better their points tally from the previous season, and also won that year's Chinese Super Cup. They repeated as league champions in 1998 with Hao repeating as the golden boot winner. Before he left for Sheffield United in 2005, he was the league's all-time top scorer with 96 goals in 185 appearances (though he was later passed by Li Jinyu, who scored 120 goals in 251 appearances between 1999 and 2010).

Friday, December 9, 2016

9 December 1984 - Percudani Pounces On Liverpool

On 9 December 1984, Independiente won their second Intercontinental Cup, beating Liverpool 1-0.

The Argentinians were making their sixth appearance in the competition after a 10-year absence and a previous record of four losses (1964, 1965, 1972, 1974) and one win--a 1-0 victory over Juventus in 1973. Liverpool, meanwhile, were in it for only the second time after losing 3-0 to Flamengo in 1981.

Playing before a crowd of 62,000 at Tokyo's National Stadium, Liverpool's attack featured the high-scoring forward pairing of Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush (Rush was Europe's top scorer that season with 32 goals in 41 league appearances). But it was 19-year old Independiente striker José Percudani (pictured) who got the day's only goal. He sprinted past the Liverpool defense to latch on to a pass that had been sent from beyond the midfield stripe, then beat goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar with a tidy left-footed finish.

It turned out to be the last time in the competition for either club, though Liverpool made an appearance in the 2005 edition of its successor, the FIFA Club World Cup, losing 1-0 to São Paulo.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

8 December 1929 - The Beginning Of A Beautiful Rivalry

On 8 December 1929, Lazio and Roma faced off for the first time, with Roma winning thanks to a late goal from striker Rodolfo Volk.

Tensions existed between the two teams even before that first match. Roma were founded in 1927, consolidating three other clubs based in the Italian capital in an effort to build a team that could compete with the more powerful northern clubs. Lazio, founded in 1900, resisted inclusion in that group, the only major team from Rome to do so.

Their first meeting was a Serie A match, played at Lazio's Campo Rondinella. Roma claimed victory as Volk's 73rd-minute goal was the only one of the day. Since then, they have extended the total to 181 times, with Roma winning 53 to Lazio's 38. Roma have dominated the derby recently, going undefeated for seven matches, with five wins and two draws. They also hold the record for the longest winning streak, however, taking six consecutive matches from 1950 to 1953.

The rivalry--known as the Derby della Capitale--has become one of the more heated derbies in football, with several incidents of violence on both sides. The worst moment came in 1979, when a Roma supporter fired a flare into the crowd, killing Lazio supporter Vincenzo Paparelli.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

7 December 1997 - The Passing Of A Leeds Legend

On 7 December 1997, former Leeds United captain Billy Bremner died after being hospitalized for pneumonia. He was 54 years old.

Born in the Scottish city of Stirling, Bremner joined Leeds United in 1959 at the age of 17 and played there for 18 seasons. He became a regular starter in just his second season and helped them earn promotion to the top flight in 1964 under manager Don Revie.

He played with an intensity and toughness that belied his small stature (he was 5' 5"), earning the respect of teammates and opponents alike. In 1966, he took over as captain and pushed Leeds to domestic and European heights, winning the League Cup (1968), FA Cup (1972), two league titles (1969, 1974), and two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups (1968, 1971), while also reaching the finals of the European Cup (1975) and Cup Winners' Cup (1973). His career was not without controversy, however, as he developed a reputation for dirty play and once received a suspension for fighting with Liverpool's Kevin Keegan.

By the time he left Elland Road in 1976, he had made 772 appearances for the club, only one match behind their all-time leader, Jack Charlton. He moved to Hull City briefly (1976-79), then joined Doncaster Rovers (1979-81) as player-manager. He returned to Leeds in 1985 as manager, then moved back to Doncaster in 1989 and retired in 1991.

In December 1997, he contracted pneumonia, then died of a suspected heart attack just two days short of his 55th birthday.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

6 December 2010 - Just Another Step In Their Plan For World Domination

On 6 December 2010, FIFA and France Football magazine announced the three finalists for the inaugural FIFA Ballon d'Or. And all three were from FC Barcelona.

The award was a combination of France Football's Ballon d'Or, started in 1956, and FIFA's World Player of the Year award, which began in 1991. In 2010, the two organizations agreed to merge their awards, calling the new honor the FIFA Ballon d'Or.

They announced their shortlist of 23 players on 27 October, then culled the list to the top three vote-getters on 6 December. The three were Barcelona's Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, and Lionel Messi, who had won both the Ballon d'Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 2009. Although Barcelona had won La Liga in 2010, the inclusion of Xavi and Iniesta was due in part to their World Cup-winning run with Spain the previous summer. But Messi went on to win the award when it was announced in January 2011.

It was not the first time that a single club took the top three spots in Ballon d'Or voting: AC Milan did it in 1988, when Marco van Basten beat out Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard, then again in 1989, when van Basten won it again, that time over Rijkaard and Franco Baresi.

Monday, December 5, 2016

5 December 2009 - Clearly, They Didn't Believe In Cover Jinxes

On 5 December 2009, the Sun celebrated England's draw for the 2010 World Cup by using their opponents' names to form the word "EASY" on their cover. It turned out to be a little more difficult than they thought, however.

The draw, which had taken place the previous day in South Africa, placed England in a group with the United States, Algeria, and Slovenia. Calling it "the best English group since the Beatles," the Sun headline touted the draw as "England, Algeria, Slovenia, Yanks." Several commentators agreed, with former English international Jack Charlton going so far to say "I think it is probably the easiest of the World Cup groups."

It turned out to be anything but, as England struggled to draws with the United States and Algeria in their two opening matches. Going into the group's last match day, they were level on points with the United States and needed a result against leaders Slovenia to ensure their progress into the next round.

As it turned out, they advanced with a 1-0 win over Slovenia, but did so as the group's second place team after the US topped the group by defeating Algeria. The relief was short-lived, however, as both England and the US were knocked out in the next round with losses to Germany and Ghana, respectively.