Sunday, August 28, 2016

28 August 1994 - Fowler Flies To A Fast Record

On 28 August 1994, Liverpool beat Arsenal 3-0 thanks to 19-year old striker Robbie Fowler, who delivered what was, at the time, the fastest hat-trick in Premier League history. 

A member of Liverpool's youth team, Fowler joined the senior side in 1993 and quickly established himself as a talented goalscorer with 18 goals in 34 appearances that first season. But nothing quite prepared the Liverpool faithful for his performance against Arsenal in the second match of the 1994-95 season. 

Playing before a crowd of over 30,000 at Anfield, Fowler opening the day's scoring in a 26th minute when Arsenal defender Martin Keown failed to clear a cross from a free kick. The ball dropped to the feet of Fowler, who scored with a simple finish from eight yards out. He had to work a little harder for his second goal three minutes later, shooting across the goal to send the ball in off a rebound from the far post. 

But his best goal of the day was his last. In the 31st minute, he beat both Keown and goalkeeper David Seaman, who collided with one another, then slotted the ball into the open net from a narrow angle. Arsenal failed to mount a serious challenege after that point as the hosts were content to sit on the lead and the match ended 3-0. 

Officially, only 4 minutes, 33 seconds passed between Fowler's first and third goals. It remained a Premier League record until May 2015 when Southampton's Sadio Mane scored a hat-trick in 2 minues and 56 seconds.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

27 August 1977 - Deco Is Delivered

On 27 August 1977, Anderson Luís de Souza, better known as Deco, was born in São Bernando do Campo, Brazil. A star for Porto, Barcelona, Chelsea, and the Portuguese national team, the midfielder was named the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year for the 2003-04 season. 

He started his professional career in 1996 with Brazilian club Corinthians, but did not stay long, moving to Portugal in 1997. He signed with Benfica, but went out on loan immediately to Alverca (1997-98) and Salgueiros (1998-99) before finally settling with Porto in 1999. He stayed there for five a half seasons, winning three league titles (1999, 2003, 2004), three Portuguese Cups (2000, 2001, 2003), the 2003 UEFA Cup, and the 2004 Champions League. 

His time in Portugal led him to become a citizen and play for the Portuguese national team after he was not selected for Brazil. He went on to make 75 appearances for Portugal between 2003 and 2010. 

When Porto manager José Mourinho left for Chelsea in 2004, Deco was rumored to follow him, but instead signed a four-year deal with Barcelona. There, he continued his winning ways, adding two La Liga titles (2005, 2006) and another Champions League trophy to his silverware collection. 

In 2008, he finally moved to Chelsea to play for new manager Luiz Felipe Scolari. Although the club was successful, winning two FA Cups (2009, 2010) and the Premier League (2010), Deco was unsettled and unhappy in London. In 2010, he moved back to Brazil to play for Fluminense where he remained until his retirement in 2013. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

26 August 1963 - Di Stéfano Makes A Different Kind Of Headline

On 26 August 1963, Real Madrid striker Alfredo di Stéfano, who had been kidnapped two days earlier, was released unharmed. 

The abduction occurred in Caracas, Venezuela, while Real Madrid were on a preseason tour of South America. Paul del Rio, a 19-year old member of the Venezuelan revolutionary group Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional, took di Stéfano at gunpoint from his hotel. By doing so, he hoped to draw attention to the FALN's attempts to stage a Fidel Castro-type revolution in Venezuela. 

They released di Stéfano (pictured, the day of his release) unharmed outside the Spanish embassy and he returned to Madrid shortly afterward. 

In August 2005, di Stéfano was reunited with del Rio for the premiere of a film titled Real, the Movie that recounted the events of 1963. By that time, del Rio had long since given up his revolutionary activities and was a well-known sculptor and painter. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

25 August 2002 - Deportivo's Game Of Threes

On 25 August 2002, Deportivo de La Coruña won their third Supercopa de España, beating Valencia 4-0 over two legs. 

They had all but secured the trophy in the first leg played one week earlier at the Estadio Riazor in La Coruña. It had been a heated battle that spilled over into the stands, as Valencia keeper Santiago Canizares was struck by an object thrown from the crowd at the end of the match, which Deportivo won 3-0. 

The emotions carried into the second leg, played at Valencia's Estadio Mestalla. In only the third minute, Valencia defender Roberto Ayala was sent off for elbowing striker Roy Makaay. Down to 10 men, the hosts were unable to create much of an attack while Deportivo were content to protect their 3-goal aggregate lead. 

Tempers continued to flare and Valencia nearly had a second player sent off after left back Fabio Aurelio delivered a nasty challenge on midfielder Juan Carlos Valeron. Although the challenge could have earned a red card, the referee saw fit to issue a yellow. 

There were a few other dust-ups before Deportivo midfielder Victor Sanchez scored in the 90th minute to end the competition as a 4-0 aggregate win. It was Deportivo's third win in three tries and they are the competition's third most successful team, after Real Madrid and Barcelona. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

24 August 1975 - The Rowdies Go Bowling

On 24 August 1975, the Tampa Bay Rowdies won the inaugural Soccer Bowl, beating the Portland Timbers 2-0.

The North American Soccer League, which dated back to 1968, had used playoffs since the 1969 season, but the finals had always been played at the home field of one of the participants. By 1974, league commissioner Phil Woosnam believed that a neutral venue would generate more excitement along the lines of the NFL's Super Bowl and thus the Soccer Bowl was created for the 1975 season.

Like the Soccer Bowl, both Tampa Bay and Portland were in their first NASL season. Tampa Bay, coached by former Charlton Athletic manager Eddie Firmani, won their division, then reached to the Soccer Bowl with playoff wins over Toronto and Miami. Portland, meanwhile, led by former Aston Villa manager Vic Crowe, also won their division, then advanced with wins over Seattle and St. Louis.

They met at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, California, where a capacity crowd of 17,000 gathered for the event. The two teams were deadlocked at 0-0 until the 66th minute, when Tampa Bay substitute defender Arsène Auguste, who had come on only three minutes earlier, unleashed a blast from 35 yards out to beat Portland keeper Graham Brown. Striker Clyde Best then sealed the win with a goal in the 88th minute.

It was the only Soccer Bowl apperance for Portland. Tampa Bay returned twice more, but lost to the New York Cosmos in 1978 and to Vancouver Whitecaps in 1979.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

23 August 1995 - Like A Phoenix Rising From The Ashes

On 23 August 1995, the former Heysel Stadium hosted a football match for the first time in almost ten years, as Germany beat Belgium in a friendly.

Originally opened on 23 August 1930, the stadium was the location of one of football's greatest tragedies when it hosted the 1985 European Cup Final between Juventus and Liverpool. Approximately an hour before kick-off, a retaining wall collapsed, leaving 600 people injured and killing 39 others.

It was the last football match played at the stadium for several years, though it continued to be used for other events. By 1995, however, it had undergone a $50 million renovation and re-opened as the home of the Belgian national team.

For the first match in the new structure, renamed King Baudouin Stadium, Belgium hosted Germany in a friendly. A crowd of 33,000 watched as the Germans won 1-2 with goals from Andreas Möller (6') and Fredi Bobic (84'). Belgium's lone goal was provided by Michaël Goossens (17').

Monday, August 22, 2016

22 August 1937 - I Hope It Was Worth The Wait

On 22 August 1937, Bordeaux made their league debut, losing to Toulouse, 3-2. 

The club dates back to 1881, but initially offered only gymnastics and shooting. They added football on a trial basis in 1910, then abandoned it again for nearly a decade. It returned for good in 1919 and they played their first official match in 1920, beating Section Burdigalienne 12-0. 

In 1936, the club merged with Girondins Guyenne Sport and assumed professional status. They joined the French league for the 1937-38 season, playing in the second division, where they opened the year with the loss to Toulouse. It was not a good season for the Girondins, who finished sixth out of seven teams in Division 2's Sud subdivision. 

They remained in Division 2 until 1939, finishing eleventh in the league's last season before the hiatus for World War II. When league play resumed in 1946, Bordeaux were placed into Division 1, but were promptly relegated at the end of the season. 

Bordeaux returned to the top flight in 1949 and won the league that season, the first of their six league titles. They enjoyed their greatest period of success in the 1980s, winning the league in 1984, 1985, and 1987, then won it again in 1999 and 2009. They have also won the Coupe de France three times (1941, 1986, 1987) and the Coupe de la Ligue three times as well (2002, 2007, 2009).