Monday, October 24, 2016

24 October 1984 - Juniors Become The Masters

On 24 October 1984, Argentinos Juniors won the Copa Libertadores, beating América de Cali on penalties in a replay.

It was the first appearance in the tournament final for both teams, who battled to separate 1-0 home victories in the first two legs to set up the decisive replay. Playing at a neutral location in Ascunción, the Argentinians went ahead with a 37th-minute goal from midfielder Emilio Commisso. But the Colombians equalized five minutes later with a booming header from forward Ricardo Gareca (Gareca was himself an Argentine, and was in his first season with América after spending the first seven years of his career in Argentina, primarily with Boca Juniors).

Regulation ended 1-1, sending the match into a penalty shootout. After four kicks each, the teams were even at 4-4 when América striker Ántony de Ávila stepped up for his attempt. Unfortunately for América, he sent the ball toward the center of the net for an easy save. The decisive kick then fell to Juniors midfielder Mario Videla, who placed it neatly in the bottom right corner for the win.

It remains the only appearance in the final for Argentinos Juniors. América, meanwhile, returned to the final three more times (1986, 1987, 1996) and lost each time.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

23 October 2010 - Pizarro Conquers A Bundesliga Record

On 23 October 2010, Peruvian forward Claudio Pizarro became the Bundesliga's all-time leading foreign goalscorer with a strike against Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Pizarro moved to the Bundesliga in 1999 with Werder Bremen, then moved to Bayern Munich in 2001. Between the two, he scored 100 league goals before moving to Chelsea in 2007. His time in London was brief, however, as he returned to Werder Bremen on loan in 2008, then on a permanent transfer in 2009.

His second spell in Bremen started successfully, with the club winning the DFB-Pokal and reaching the UEFA Cup final in 2009, then finishing third in the league in 2010. But they struggled at the start of the 2010-11 season, winning only three of their first eight matches when they traveled to Mönchengladbach. At the time, Pizarro was tied with his former Bayern teammate Élber Giovane as the league's record foreign goalscorers with 133 each.

The match was no contest. After only 12 minutes, the visitors were up 0-2 with goals from Marko Marin (5') and Wesley (12'), then Aaron Hunt stretched the lead to 0-3 in the 51st minute. The hosts got a slight lift when Werder center back Per Mertesacker put the ball into his own net in the 67th minute, but Pizarro restored the margin with his record-setting strike in the 75th minute. It was a rare bright spot in the season for Werder, who finished in 13th place.

Pizarro, who is in his fourth spell with Werder Bremen, has a current tally of 190 Bundesliga goals, making him the fifth highest scorer in league history.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

22 October 1969 - It's Like They Went To A Fight And A Match Broke Out

On 22 October 1969, AC Milan won their first Intercontinental Cup in a match that one paper described as "the culmination of all that is evil in international club soccer."

It was the second leg of the competition between European Cup champions Milan and Copa Libertadores winners Estudiantes. The Argentinians faced an uphill battle, as the Intercontinental Cup had just moved away from a points system to an aggregate score model and the Italians had won the first leg 3-0 in Milan.

The return leg at La Bombenera became hostile even before the opening kick-off: Estudiantes players kicked balls at the visiting team during warm-ups and some of the 45,000 spectators reportedly dumped hot coffee on the Milan players as they took the pitch. But the situation grew worse in the 17th minute, as Milan striker Pierino Prati--who had scored a hat-trick in Milan's 4-1 win over Ajax in that year's European Cup--suffered a mild concussion and was briefly unconscious. He managed to play on until the 37th minute, when he was replaced by Giorgio Rognoni.

By that time, Milan had extended their aggregate lead to 4-0 with a 30th-minute goal from captain Gianni Rivera. It wasn't all good for Rivera, though, who was on the receiving end of a punch from Estudiantes goalkeeper Alberto Poletti. Poletti also delivered a kick to the face of Milan's Argentina-born French striker Nestor Combin (pictured), who suffered a broken nose and cheekbone thanks to an elbow from Estudiantes defender Ramón Aguirre Suárez. (Combin ended up spending the night in jail, charged with evading obligatory Argentinian military service, but eventually managed to convince the authorities that he had completed his service in France, where he was a citizen).

Estudiantes managed to score twice before the break (including a goal from Suárez), but were unable to close the gap and lost 4-2 on aggregate.

Afterward, faced with harsh criticism from the international football community, including the Guardian report quoted above, the Argentine Football Association issued several punishments: Poletti received a lifetime ban, Suárez got a 30-game suspension and a five-year international ban, and defender Eduardo Manero received a 20-game suspension and a three-year international ban. All three of them were arrested and sentenced to 30 days in jail.

Friday, October 21, 2016

21 October 1933 - The Man With The Record Cup Collection

On 21 October 1933, Real Madrid striker Francisco Gento was born in the Guarnizo district of Cantabria in northern Spain. By the time he retired, he was the club's all-time appearances leader and he remains the only man to win six European Cups.

An outside left forward, he started his professional career in 1952 with Racing Santander, but moved to Real Madrid for the 1953-54 season. He started slowly there, with no goals in 21 appearances that season, but earned his first silverware as Real Madrid won the league for the first time in eleven years.

The honors flowed regularly after that, with another league title in 1955 and the first of five consecutive European Cups in 1956. In 1957, he scored in Real's 2-0 win over Fiorentina (video below), then provided the 107th-minute match-winner against Milan in 1958. After the five-time streak, Real returned to the final on the losing side in 1962 and 1964, then won it for a sixth time in 1966. Gento, who captained the side in 1966, was the only person to play for Real Madrid in all six wins, making him the only person in history with six European Cup titles to his name.

Upon his retirement in 1971, he had made a total of 599 appearances for Real, making him the club's appearances leader at the time, though his tally has since been surpassed by four others. he moved into management briefly--for Castilla, Castellón, Palencia, and Granada--before becoming a European ambassador for Real Madrid.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

20 October 1968 - Lots May Be Fair, But They're Not As Exciting

A 1-1 Olympic quarterfinal draw between Bulgaria and Israel on 20 October 1968 resulted in FIFA's adoption of penalty shootouts.

The two teams met at the Nou Camp in León, Mexico. It was a heated affair, with referee Michel Kitabdjian issuing six cautions in the first minute (three to each team).

In a battle of prolific attacks, Bulgaria took an early lead with a 5th-minute goal from an unlikely source, Slavia Sofia defender Georgi Hristakiev. For the next 84 minutes, Hristakiev played a more traditional role as Bulgaria managed to stifle Israel.

But Yehoshua Feigenbaum eventually cracked the Bulgarian defense, drawing Israel level in the 89th minute and the match ended at 1-1 after 90 minutes. In order to determine which team would advance, the rules at the time required the drawing of lots. Bulgaria won and progressed to the semifinals where they beat Mexico, 2-3. They then moved on to the final, losing to Hungary 4-1.

After watching his team lose via lots, Israel supporter Yosef Dagan wrote to FIFA, suggesting they resolve draws with a penalty shootout. FIFA adopted the proposal in 1970.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

19 October 1908 - There Was Something Rotten Here, But It Wasn't Denmark

On 19 October 1908, Denmark played their first official international, beating France 9-0 in the opening match of the Summer Olympics.

The Danish Football Association formed in 1899, but waited several years before forming their first international squad. In 1906, an unofficial Denmark team composed of players from the Copenhagen Football Association participated in--and won--the 1906 Intercalated Games (an informal version of the Summer Olympics) by beating an Athens team 9-0. They followed up by registering their first official side for the 1908 Summer Olympics.

There were two matches scheduled for the tournament's opening day, but Hungary withdrew from their game against the Netherlands for financial reasons. As a result, Denmark and France contested the first official Olympic international.

Playing before a crowd of 2,000 at London's White City Stadium, Nils Middelboe (pictured) scored the first official Olympic goal when he put Denmark up in the 10th minute. He scored another in the 49th minute, while the Danes also got goals from Vilhelm Wolfhagen (15', 17', 67', 72'), Harald Bohr (25', 47'), and Sophus Nielsen (78') en route to a 9-0 victory. (The French team was their "B" side; their "A" side met Denmark three days later and suffered an even greater defeat, losing 17-1 with a staggering 10 goals from Nielsen.)

Denmark reached the tournament final, but lost to Great Britain 2-0.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

18 October 1908 - A Derby On Neutral Ground

On 18 October 1908, AC Milan and Inter played the first Milan derby. In Switzerland.

The match came just over seven months after Inter's formation. They had previously been part of AC Milan, but split in March 1908 over a dispute about the propriety of signing foreign players (Inter favored it, hence the adoption of "Internazionale" as their name).

The first meeting between the two clubs came in the Coppa Chiasso, a tournament played in the the Canton of Ticino in southern Switzerland. Milan won the first two editions, played in 1906 and 1907, which consisted of three and four teams, respectively. For the 1908 tournament, the field expanded to six teams, including the newly formed Inter. The two Milanese teams reached the final which Milan won 2-1.

Since then, the two clubs have met a total of 216 times. Of those, Inter won 77 and Milan won 75, with 64 draws.