Tuesday, April 30, 2013

30 April 1977 - Austria Cranks Up The Heat

On 30 April 1977, six goals from striker Hans Krankl helped Austria to their record win, a 9-0 victory over Malta in a World Cup qualifier.

After finishing third in the 1954 World Cup, Austria had struggled, advancing only to the group stage in 1958, withdrawing in 1962, then failing to qualify for the 1966, 1970, and 1974 tournaments. But they started off their campaign for the 1978 World Cup by winning their first two games against Malta and Turkey by identical 1-0 scores.

For their third match, they hosted the return fixture against Malta in Salzburg. There, Krankl, who had scored the winner against Malta in the previous game, struck again with a goal in the 9th minute. He scored three more in the span of just over ten minutes (12', 18', 20') before Josef Stering added another in the 30th minute to give Austria a 5-0 lead at the break.

Things were little better for Malta in the second half, as both Krankl (53', 66') and Stering (69') again found the back of the net, along with Hans Pirkner (65'). The final margin of 9-0 remains Austria's biggest win.

They ultimately won their qualification group to reach the tournament, then won their first-round group, but were eliminated in the second group stage.

Monday, April 29, 2013

29 April 1965 - The Story Of VP Sathyan

On 29 April 1965, former India captain and 1995 AIFF Player of the Year V.P. Sathyan was born in the Kannur District.

A center back, Sathyan began his career in 1982 with Spirited Youth Club, but spent the majority of his career with Kerala Police where he won back-to-back Federation Cups in 1990 and 1991. In 1992, he joined Mohun Bagan, where he won another pair of consecutive Federation Cups in 1992 and 1993 (in the latter, he scored the only goal of the final).

In 1994, he returned to Kerala Police for two more seasons, then closed out his club career with a year at Indian Bank, which he later managed in 2001.

Along with his domestic success, he rose to prominence during his ten-year tenure with the Indian national team, serving as captain of the squad that won the gold medal at the 1995 South Asian Federation Games. It was that performance that led to him winning the All-Indian Football Federation's Player of the Year award.

Unfortunately, his life took a downward turn after football. In 2006, at the age of 41, financial pressures led him to take his own life by jumping in front of a train.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

28 April 1970 - The Gunners Fire Back In Europe

On 28 April 1970, Arsenal rallied from a 3-1 first-leg deficit to win the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup over Anderlecht with an aggregate score of 3-4.

The tournament was an opportunity to salvage the seasons for the Gunners, who were almost done with a disappointing domestic campaign that would see them finish twelfth in the league after early exits in both the FA Cup and League Cup. For the first leg on 22 April, they visited Anderlecht, where the hosts dominated, taking a 3-0 lead before an 82nd-minute goal from Ray Kennedy brought the final margin to a slightly more respectable 3-1.

In London for the second leg, the situation was reversed. Arsenal went up 1-0 with a 25th-minute goal from Eddie Kelly, while their defense stymied the previously-prolific Belgian attack. Radford then struck in the 75th minute, followed by a goal from Jon Sammels one minute later. That was enough to push the final scoreline to 3-4 on aggregate, giving Arsenal their first European trophy.

The victory inspired the squad, who regained their domestic form the following season, winning both the league and the FA Cup.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

27 April 1913 - The Change Of Scenery Made The Difference

On 27 April 1913, the Paterson True Blues won their third American Cup after beating Tacony FC 2-1 in a second replay.

Organized by the American Football Association, the American Cup was an annual tournament played from 1885 to 1924. The True Blues out of Paterson, New Jersey, one of the dominant American teams of the era, reached the tournament final seven times previously, winning it in 1896 and 1909. Philadelphia-based Tacony, meanwhile, had been there once before, winning it in 1910.

For the 1913 final, Tacony hosted the first meeting on 12 April, but it ended as a 2-2 draw after Paterson's Neil Clarke equalized in the dying seconds. They returned to Philadelphia a week later for a replay, with Clarke again scoring the tying goal in a 1-1 draw to force a third game.

They met again on 27 April, with the location moved to Morris Park, New Jersey. There, Tacony again took a 1-0 lead, but Paterson's Alec Lowe brought them level. Then a late Tacony handball led to a Paterson penalty converted by Jack Nielson that proved to be the deciding score.

Friday, April 26, 2013

26 April 2000 - Even A Modest Record Is Still A Record

On 26 April 2000, Andorra got their first win, beating Belarus 2-0 in a friendly. It remains their record margin of victory.

Dating back to 1996, the Andorran national team struggled through the early years, with their very first match being a 1-6 home loss to Estonia. They went on to lose 20 and win none of their first 23 matches, including defeats in all ten of their qualifiers for Euro 1996. Their only non-defeats were scoreless draws with Azerbaijan in 1998 and 2000 and the Faroe Islands in 1999.

But in April 2000, they hosted Belarus in a friendly and took  a 1-0 lead when midfielder Jesús Julián Lucendo scored with a penalty kick in the 57th minute. As if that was not shocking enough, they then extended their lead five minutes later with a goal from striker Juli Sánchez (pictured). It proved to be one more goal than they needed as the match ended 2-0 to give Andorra their first taste of victory.

Unfortunately, they followed that result with a string of eleven straight defeats before getting their second victory, another 2-0 friendly win at home, this time over Albania. To date, their only other win--and only one in a competitive match--is a 1-0 victory over Macedonia in a World Cup qualifier in 2004.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

25 April 1868 - Celtic's Other Greatest Manager

On 25 April 1868, Willie Maley was born in Ireland. He went on to become Celtic's most successful manager.

He played for Celtic as a half back from 1888 to 1897, helping the club win their first three league titles. Then, in 1897, he became Celtic's first manager at the age of 29. He continued his winning ways, claiming another league title in that first season, followed by the Scottish Cup in 1899.

He managed Celtic until January 1940, making him the club's longest-tenured boss. During that span, they won a total of thirty trophies, including sixteen league titles and fourteen Scottish Cups. The total of 30 major trophies is also a club record, five more than his nearest challenger, Jock Stein.

Maley's final major honor was the 1938 league title, followed by a second-place finish in 1939. With the league officially suspended the following season for World War II, he retired three months short of his 71st birthday. He remained in Glasgow and died there in 1958 at the age of 89.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

24 April 1954 - Wolves Hunger No More

On 24 April 1954, Wolverhampton won their first league title, beating Tottenham 2-0 in their final match of the season.

One of England's strongest teams at the mid-point of the twentieth century, Wolves had finished as runners-up three times before, in 1938, 1939, and 1950. They topped the table for most of the 1952-53 season, included as late as mid-April, but faltered at the end and finished third.

For most of the 1953-54 season, they were involved in a two-team battle for the title with West Bromwich Albion. On 24 April, Wolves were ahead of West Brom by two points, with each team having only one game left to play--West Brom at Porstmouth and Wolves hosting Tottenham at Molineux.

Playing before a crowd of 44,000, Wolves took the lead with a goal from center forward Roy Swinbourne (pictured) in the 18th minute. He then added a second in the 68th minute to seal the victory. As it turned out, they would have claimed the title even with a loss, as West Brom lost 3-0 (West Brom did not go empty-handed, however--they won the FA Cup a week later over Preston North End).

Wolves went on to win two more titles in 1958 and 1959, and finished as runners-up again in 1955 and 1960.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

23 April 1984 - Cambridge Learns The Other Definition Of "Smarts"

On 23 April 1984, Cambridge United set a Football League record for futility, stretching their winless streak to 31 games.

Playing in Division Two, United had finished 12th the previous season and were looking to improve upon that showing in 1983-84. They got off to a good start with a win and a draw in their first two games, but their campaign soon floundered, with three losses out their next four. Then, after a 2-1 win over Oldham on 1 October, just their second victory of the season, Cambridge started their historic run.

It opened with a 1-3 loss to Crystal Palace, the first of seven consecutive losses in the league (plus two more in the League Cup). After that, they managed to sprinkle in a few draws among the losses, culminating in their 31st consecutive winless game in the league, a scoreless draw away at Grimsby Town.

They finally stopped the hemorrhage of points with a 1-0 win over Newcastle on 28 April, but the damage had already been done. They remained rooted at the foot of the table to the end and dropped back down into Division Three.

Their 31-game winless streak remained a league record until 2008, when it was surpassed by Derby County, who stretched the mark to 36 games.

Monday, April 22, 2013

22 April 1982 - He Really Didn't Merit That Nickname

 On 22 April 1982, Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite, better known as Kaká, was born in Gama, Brazil. He went on to win the Ballon d'Or and World Player of the Year award in 2007.

An attacking midfielder, he started his career with São Paulo, joining their youth academy in 1994, then signing with the club as a professional in 2001. He remained there for a little over two seasons, making 59 league appearances and scoring 23 goals. That attracted the interest of AC Milan, who signed him in the summer of 2003 for a transfer fee of €8.5 million.

An accomplished provider of assists in addition to goals, Kaká helped Milan to the league title in his first season there. In 2005, they reached the Champions League final, but lost to Liverpool. Both teams returned to the final in 2007, with Milan winning 2-1. Kaká was the tournament's top scorer. Later that year, Milan won the Club World Cup and Kaká claimed the Ballon d'Or and the World Footballer of the Year award.

In the summer of 2009, he moved to Real Madrid for a transfer fee of €68.5 million, an amount that, at the time, was the second-highest in history after the €76 million Real Madrid paid for Zinedine Zidane in 2001. (It dropped to third after the club signed Cristiano Ronaldo for €94 million in later in the summer of 2009).

At Madrid, has battled through injuries, but has still made made over 80 appearances there and helped them win the league title in 2012.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

21 April 1905 - They Could Probably Drop The "Juniors" By Now

On 21 April 1905, Boca Juniors played their first match, beating Mariano Moreno in a friendly, 4-0.

The club had formed earlier that month, founded by a group of Italian immigrants in the Boca neighborhood of Buenos Aires. The met at the home of one of the founders, Esteban Baglietto, until the discussions grew so heated, particularly over the color of the new club's kit, that his mother asked them to leave. They eventually chose to play in pink shirts, though they did not use them long before changing to vertical black and white stripes and, eventually, the familiar blue with a horizontal yellow stripe that they use at present.

For their first match, they hosted a friendly against Mariano Moreno and won 4-0, with captain Juan Farenga scoring the club's first goal.

Three years later, they joined the league in the Second Division, then reached the First Division in 1913, Since then, they've grown into one of Argentina's most successful clubs, winning 30 league titles, six Copa Libertadores, and three Intercontinental Cups.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

20 April 1996 - The MetroStars Fall

On 20 April 1996, the NY/NJ MetroStars lost their MLS home opener when they conceded an own goal with just thirteen seconds left.

Based in Giants Stadium, the MetroStars were the informal successor to the Cosmos and, as such, carried high expectations. With stars such as midfielder Tab Ramos and goalkeeper Tony Meola, most observers tipped the MetroStars to challenge for the league title in that first season. But an opening-day away loss at Los Angeles dampened some of that enthusiasm.

They returned to Giants stadium for their home opener, with a crowd of almost 47,000 turning out to see them take on the New England Revolution. The teams battled to a scoreless standstill for most of the match, which, under the rules at the time, would have sent them into a shootout. But just moments from the end of regulation, New England's Darren Sawatzky sent in a shot that Meola parried into the path of MetroStars defender Nicola Caricola. Caricola tried to clear it, but succeeded only in floating it over Meola's head and into the goal, gifting New England the 0-1 win.

The MetroStars went on to finish the season with a record of fifteen wins (three of which were shootout wins, worth only a single point) and seventeen losses. That was still enough to qualify them for the MLS Cup, but they lost in the first round to eventual champions DC United.

Friday, April 19, 2013

19 April 1972 - One Low Can Balance Out A Lot Of Highs

On 19 April 1972, Rivaldo, the 1999 Ballon d'Or winner and World Player of the Year, was born in Paulista, Brazil.

The playmaker started his career in 1991 with Santa Cruz FC and moved to several different clubs in Brazil and Spain, including Corinthians, Palmeiras, and Deportivo de la Coruña, before joining Barcelona in 1997. In his first season there, he scored a total of 28 goals across all competitions and helped Barça to claim both the league title and the Copa del Rey.

They repeated as league champions in 1998-99, with Rivaldo scoring a total of 29 goals (24 were in the league, making him the second-highest scorer that season behind Raúl, who had 25). The following summer, he scored twice in the Copa América final to lead Brazil to a 3-0 win over Uruguay. The combination of his success with club and country led to him collecting a handful of personal accolades at the end of the year, including the Ballon d'Or, the FIFA World Player of the Year award, and the World Soccer Player of the Year award.

He remained with Barcelona until 2002, beginning a series of moves to a variety of different clubs, including Milan, Olympiacos, and his current club, São Caetano.

Despite all of success, he is remembered partly for one of football's worst dives. While playing for Brazil against Turkey in the group stage of the 2002 World Cup, Hakan Ünsal kicked the ball toward Rivaldo, who was waiting to take a corner. Although the ball struck Rivaldo in the thigh, he fell to the ground clutching his face, leading the referee to eject Ünsal from the match. Brazil went on to win the game 2-1, then proceeded to win the World Cup.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

18 April 1993 - This Time, The Pain Came After The Gain

On 18 April 1993, Arsenal's Steve Morrow scored the winning goal in the League Cup final, then broke his arm in the post-match celebrations.

The Gunners were in the final against fellow Premier League side Sheffield Wednesday. Playing in front of a crowd of over 74,000 at Wembley, Wednesday took a quick lead with a goal from midfielder John Harkes in the eighth minute. Harkes's goal, rifled in from the edge of the box, made him the first American to score in a League Cup final.

Their lead didn't last long, however, as Arsenal's Paul Merson blasted a half-volley into the far corner from about twenty yards out in the 20th minute; the teams went into the break level at 1-1.

They remained level until the 68th minute, when a poor clearance by Wednesday dropped the ball into the path of Morrow just a few feet in front of the goal. He drove the ball past keeper Chris Woods to give the Gunners the lead and, as it turned out, the League Cup, as the 2-1 margin set the final score.

In the post-match celebrations, Arsenal captain Tony Adams tried to lift Morrow, but dropped him, breaking his arm. The injury forced Morrow to miss the remainder of the season, including a return to Wembley against Wednesday in the FA Cup final, which Arsenal won in a replay to claim the Cup Double.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

17 April 1897 - Aston Villa Makes A Move

On 17 April 1897, Aston Villa opened Villa Park as league and FA Cup champions, having already secured the Double.

Their new home, originally named Aston Lower Grounds, was their third one, following Aston Park (1874-76) and Perry Barr (1876-97). It was formerly part of the Aston Hall estate of  Lord Thomas Holte, built on the location that used to be the kitchen garden, which had subsequently been converted into an amusement park and all-purpose sports ground. Villa signed a long-term lease to rent the ground for an annual fee of £300, then commissioned the construction of stands with a capacity of 40,000 people.

Construction was still ongoing when Villa played their first match there, a 3-0 win over Blackburn Rovers. It was a meaningless match for the hosts, who had already secured their second straight league title (and third overall) and had won the FA Cup. They didn't lose a game there until a defeat to Sheffield United in January 1898. Since then, Villa has won four more league titles there (1899, 1900, 1910, 1981).

The record attendance there is 76,588, set during a sixth-round FA Cup match against Derby County, while the record as an all-seater is 42,788, set during a league game against Liverpool in 2009.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

16 April 1967 - The Renegades Ride The Airwaves

On 16 April 1967, televised professional football arrived in the United States with an NPSL match between the Baltimore Bays and the Atlanta Chiefs.

Formed earlier that year, the National Professional Soccer League included ten teams across the US and Canada. It was not sanctioned by FIFA or the US Soccer Federation, who instead backed the competing United Soccer Association and branded the NPSL a "renegade league." But that label didn't hinder the NPSL, who reached a deal with CBS for the broadcast of twenty-one games that first season.

For the first televised match on opening weekend, Baltimore hosted Atlanta and won 1-0 with the lone goal coming from forward Guy Saint-Vil (pictured). Because the new league used a novel points system in which a win was worth six, a draw worth two, and each goal worth one (up to a maximum of three per side per game), Baltimore earned seven points.

They went on to win the Eastern Division, but lost to the Oakland Clippers, the Western Division champions,  in a single-game playoff.

At the end of the season, the NPSL merged with the United Soccer Association to form the North American Soccer League.

Monday, April 15, 2013

15 April 1889 - The Original Early Substitution

On 15 April 1889, goalkeeper Sam Gillam became the first substitute in international football when he came on for Wales in a match against Scotland.

While substitutions had been used informally at the club level for several years, the rules for international football at that time prohibited them for any reason, including injury. As a result, national teams typically picked only eleven players for a match, as Wales did for their game against Scotland in the 1889 British Home Championship, played at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham.

Unfortunately for Wales, their chosen goalkeeper, James Trainer, was not released by his club, Preston North End, who failed to notify the Welsh Football Association until shortly before kick-off. The WFA sent an emergency call for Gillam, who lived in Wrexham, to take Trainer's place, but the two teams agreed to start the game as scheduled, with Wales using a local amateur named Alf Pugh in goal until Gillam arrived, which he did in the 30th minute.

In his limited time on the pitch, Pugh had managed to preserve a clean sheet, which Gillam maintained and the game ended 0-0. It was the first time in fourteen matches that Wales had managed to avoid defeat to the Scots (though Scotland still managed to win the Championship).

The day represented Pugh's only international cap, while Gillam went on to make four more appearances for Wales, raising his career total to five.

FIFA did not officially recognize the use of substitutes in international football until the qualification matches for the 1954 World Cup.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

14 April 1999 - The Gunners Get Gigged

On 14 April 1999, Ryan Giggs scored an incredible late goal to lift Manchester United over Arsenal in the FA Cup semifinals.

The two teams met at Villa Park, where they had played to a scoreless draw there three days earlier to force the replay. Arsenal, the defending FA Cup champions, were sitting second in the league behind United, despite having taken four points from their two league meetings that season.

United took the lead with an impressive 25-yard strike from David Beckham in the 17th minute, but Arsenal eventually drew level in the 69th minute when Dennis Bergkamp fired home from a similar distance. Five minutes later, United captain Roy Keane received a straight red for a foul on Marc Overmars, but the Gunners could not capitalize on their man advantage and the match went into extra time.

There, Giggs scored his iconic goal. In the 109th minute, he received the ball on the left deep in his own half, then dribbled up the pitch, evaded four different Arsenal defenders, and powered the ball into the roof of the net over goalkeeper David Seaman. It proved to be the decisive score, as United won 2-1.

United went on to complete a treble consisting of the League title, FA Cup, and European Cup.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

13 April 1920 - He's A Keeper, All Right

On 13 April 1920, goalkeeper William Robb made the first of his club-record 241 consecutive appearances for Rangers.

The twenty-five year old had previously played for a variety of clubs in England and Scotland, including an early stint with Birmingham City, before Rangers manager Bill Struth signed him earlier that year. Struth then played him for the first time in a 2-1 win over Ayr United.

Robb went on to play every game for the remainder of the season, which ended with Rangers as league champions. He continued to appear in every game for the next five seasons, winning four more titles (1921, 1923, 1924, 1925). His run of consecutive appearances finally ended on 31 October 1925, though he continued to play for them until 1926.

After leaving Rangers, Robb played for Hibernian (1926-30) and Aldershot (1930-37) before finishing his career at Guildford City (1937-39).

Friday, April 12, 2013

12 April 1891 - The Primera Primera División Matches

On 12 April 1891, Argentina's inaugural Primera División season kicked off with a pair of matches involving four of the new league's five teams.

Founded earlier that year by Alex Lamont of Saint Andrew's Scots School in Buenos Aires, the new league was the first one outside the British Isles. In addition to Saint Andrew's, it included Old Caledonians, Buenos Aires and Rosario Railway, Belgrano FC, and Buenos Aires FC.

On that first matchday, Saint Andrew's beat Buenos Aires 2-5, while Old Caledonians crushed Belgrano 6-0. The two winning teams continued to do well over the course of the season with identical records of six wins, one draw, and a loss. That put them both into a playoff to decide the title, which Saint Andrew's won 3-1.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

11 April 2001 - There's No Mercy Rule In International Football

On 11 April 2001, Australia set an international football record, beating American Samoa 31-0.

The match occurred during the Oceania Football Confederation qualification campaign for the 2002 World Cup, which set the two teams on a crash course for an historic result. Australia beat Tonga 0-22 in their opening match, while American Samoa lost their first game 13-0 to Fiji (followed by an 8-0 loss to Samoa).

They met at the International Sports Stadium in Coffs Harbor, New South Wales, playing before a crowd of 3,000. It took only ten minutes for Australia to take the lead, courtesy of midfielder Con Boutsianis, who went on to complete a hat-trick with goals in the 50th and 84th minutes. But the star of the day was forward Archie Thompson, who, in jut his third national team appearance, scored thirteen times (12', 23', 27', 29', 33', 37', 42', 45', 56', 60', 65', 85', 88').

Forward David Zdrilic wasn't far behind with eight (13', 21', 25', 33', 58', 66', 78', 89'), while Australia's remaining goals were provided by Aurelio Vidmar (14', 80'), Tony Popovic (17', 19'), Simon Colosimo (51', 81'), and Fausto De Amicis (55').

The match set the record margin for an international game, but is far behind the overall record of 149-0 set in a Madagascar league match between AS Adema and S.O. l'Emyrne in 2002.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

10 April 1975 - A Cup Out Of Time

On 10 April 1975, Atlético Madrid won the Intercontinental Cup, beating Independiente over two legs.

It was the third straight appearance (and fifth overall) for Independiente, whose brutal play in the 1972 tournament against Ajax led the Dutch side to decline participation in 1973 even though they qualified by winning that year's European Cup. Their place in the Intercontinental Cup went to runners-up Juventus, who were beaten by Independiente in the competition's first single-match final.

The 1974 tournament returned to a two-legged final, played in early 1975. Bayern Munich qualified as European Cup champions, but also chose not to participate, opening the door for runners-up Atlético.

Independiente won the first leg in Argentina, 1-0, on 12 March, then traveled to Spain for the second leg. Playing before a crowd of 65,000 at Madrid's Estadio Vicente Calderón, Atlético drew level on aggregate with a 34th-minute strike from Javier Irureta. Then, in the 85th minute, with time close to expiring and a replay looming, striker Rubén Ayala scored to put the hosts up 2-1 on aggregate and they held on for the victory.

The 1976 Intercontinental Cup was played that November, so while it was played twice that year, 1975 officially did not have an Intercontinental Cup.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

9 April 1922 - The Launch Of The Black Arrow

On 9 April 1922, forward Gil Heron, the first black footballer to play for Celtic, was born in Kingston, Jamaica.

Although he was born in Jamaica, he moved to Canada as a child and later enlisted in the Canadian Air Force and played football for their team. When his military service ended, he turned professional, starring for the Detroit Corinthians and the Detroit Wolverines. There, he caught the attention of a Celtic scout who invited him to Glasgow for a trial in 1951 then signed him to a contract later that year.

He made his debut in a Scottish League Cup match against Morton on 18 August, scoring a goal in the 2-0 win. But although gifted with pace that prompted supporters to nickname him "the Black Arrow," he struggled to handle the physical side of the Scottish game and stayed with Celtic for only one season, making a total of five appearances and scoring only one other goal.

Upon leaving Celtic in 1952, he spent a season with Third Lanark and one with Kidderminster Harriers before returning to Detroit. He continued to follow Celtic with interest until his death at the age of 86.

In addition to his milestone achievement with Celtic, Heron is also known as the father of celebrated musician and poet Gil Scott-Heron.

Monday, April 8, 2013

8 April 2012 - Muslera Goes Coast To Coast

On 8 April 2012, goalkeeper Fernando Muslera scored the first goal of his career as Galatasaray routed Manisapor 0-4 on the last day of the season.

Galatasaray entered the match as league champions, starting the day six points clear of runners-up Fenerbahçe, who had already completed the season. Manisaspor, meanwhile, were guaranteed to finish seventeenth out of eighteen teams regardless of the result of their last game. So neither team had much to play for and the first 45 minutes reflected that. The only event of note in the first half was the 39th-minute ejection of Manisaspor midfielder Yiğit İncedemir after he received a second yellow.

Playing down a man, the hosts could not keep up with the title winners, who took the lead with a penalty kick from Selçuk İnan two minutes after the restart. He added another in the 77th minute to effectively seal the win, then had the opportunity for a hat-trick when the referee awarded another penalty to Galatasaray in the 83rd minute. But rather than take the kick himself, İnan opted to leave it to Muslera. The keeper ran the length of the pitch and drove the ball right down the middle to get the first--and, so far, only--goal of his career.

The game also marked Muslera's sixteenth clean sheet, as the game ended 0-4 after a final goal from Milan Baroš in the 87th minute.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

7 April 2012 - A Canadian Derby Hits New Heights

On 7 April 2012, the Montreal Impact got their first MLS win, beating rivals Toronto 2-1.

Formed as an American Professional Soccer League team in 1992, Montreal had to wait fourteen years for their biggest rivals to arrive, as Toronto was established in 2006 as an expansion team for Major League Soccer. Although the two teams played in different leagues, they met every year in the Canadian Championship (which started as a round-robin tournament in 2008 with those two team and the Vancouver Whitecaps, then added Edmonton in 2011).

Montreal won the first Canadian Championship, but Toronto has won every one since, never losing to Montreal. So when Montreal joined MLS in 2012, they hoped the change in their league status would lead to a change in fortune.

Hosting Toronto at the Olympic Stadium, Montreal wasted little time in staking their claim, taking an 18th-minute lead with a goal from midfielder Siniša Ubiparipović. Still down 1-0 in the second half, Toronto tried to rally, but lost defender Logan Emory to a red card in the 65th minute for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity.

Montreal's Andrew Wenger extended the lead in the 81st minute to provide some insurance that the hosts later needed when Toronto's Danny Koevermans scored a late consolation goal.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

6 April 2010 - Messi Hits A New Mark

On 6 April 2010, Lionel Messi did something he had never done before, scoring all four goals for Barcelona in a 4-1 win over Arsenal in the Champions League.

Only 23 years old at the time, Messi had already established himself as one of the world's elite players, winning the 2009 Ballon d'Or after a season in which he won six trophies with Barcelona. But he still faced accusations of disappearing in big games, both with Argentina and Barça, including the latter's 2-2 draw with Arsenal in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal meeting in which the forward failed to score or do much of anything of note.

That changed in the second leg, however. Playing in front of a crowd of over 93,000 at Camp Nou, Arsenal took the lead with a goal from striker Nicklas Bendtner in the 18th minute to go up 3-2 on aggregate. But after that, it was all Messi.

He scored his first goal in the 21st minute and had completed a hat-trick by the break, with additional strikes in the 37th and 42nd minutes, effectively ending the contest. But Messi wasn't done; he added a fourth goal in the 88th minute, marking the first time in his career he had scored four times in one game. (He was also just the sixth player to do it in the Champions League).

Unfortunately for Messi and Barcelona, they were eliminated in the semifinals by eventual champions Inter, but they did repeat as La Liga champions and, at the end of the year, Messi won a second Ballon d'Or.

Friday, April 5, 2013

5 April 2009 - He Must Not Be A Vengeful Man

On 5 April 2009, a Cardiff supporter hit referee Mike Dean with a coin during a match with Swansea. And he still awarded them a late penalty.

The match was the third South Wales derby of the season, with Swansea winning 1-0 in the League Cup in September, then drawing 2-2 at home in November. Bit matches went off without any problem, but Swansea fans clashed with police after the League Cup match, resulting in eight arrests.

When the teams met again in April at Ninian Park, it was the home supporters' turn to get into trouble. Just before the break, with Swansea leading (Nathan Dyer, 11'), a Cardiff supporter in the stands threw a coin a Dean, striking him in the face above his right eye. It drew blood and raised a large welt, but Dean was able to continue after brief treatment.

Cardiff drew level in the second half (Michael Chopra, 54'), then fell behind again after a late goal from Joe Allen (88'). But as the game moved into injury time, Dean awarded a penalty to Cardiff for an Ashley Williams foul on Ross McCormack. McCormack converted the ensuing kick to earn a 2-2 draw.

Police later identified the coin-throwing culprit, who was banned for life from any Cardiff matches.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

4 April 1953 - Duncan's Debut

On 4 April 1953, Duncan Edwards made his debut for Manchester United, starting a career cut short by his death in Munich five years later.

A half-back, Edwards joined the United youth team in 1952 and was a star in the side that won the FA Youth Cup in 1953. Prior to the final, however, manager Matt Busby gave him his first-team debut in a home league match against Cardiff City. He was only 16 years and 185 days old at the time, making him the youngest player to appear in England's top flight up to that point.

United lost that match 4-1, but Edwards blossomed into a rare talent, with many observers counting on a great future for him. Teammate Bobby Charlton, winner of the 1966 Ballon d'Or, later said that Edwards was the only player that made him feel inferior. He quickly became a feature in the United senior side, making 24 league appearances in 1953-54, then featuring in almost all of their games after that.

Tragically, his career was cut short when United's team plane, bringing them home from a European Cup match against Red Star Belgrade, crashed in Munich on 6 February 1958. Seven players died instantly, while Edwards and manager Matt Busby were rushed to the hospital with critical injuries.  Busby eventually recovered, but Edwards died just over two weeks later on 21 February at the age of 21.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

3 April 2007 - The Fire Turns Up The Heat

On 3 April 2007, the Chicago Fire signed Mexican star Cuauhtémoc Blanco, who went on to score the league's Goal of the Season and was later selected to the MLS Best XI.

The playmaker joined Chicago from Club América, where he had been a four-time Mexican Primera División MVP, winning the 2005 Clausura and the 2006 CONCACAF Champions' Cup. Chicago used their designated player spot to sign him for a deal worth almost $2.7 million per year, making him one of the league's highest-paid players behind only David Beckham (who made over $6 million).

Despite a relatively disappointing first season in which Blanco appeared in only fourteen of Chicago's thirty league games and scored only four goals, one of them was good enough to be voted the MLS Goal of the Year: playing against Real Salt Lake in August, he received the ball about twenty yards out, turned, then fired a left-footed shot over keeper Nick Rimando into the far side of the net.

The next season, he helped Chicago to the league's third-best record (and improvement of four spots from 2007) and reached the MLS Cup Conference Finals. For his role, Blanco was named to the season's MLS Best XI. He was also the MVP of the 2008 All-Star Game, in which the MLS All-Stars beat West Ham United 3-2.

He played one more season with Chicago, then returned to Mexico in 2010 to play for Veracruz.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

2 April 2005 - Columbus Discovers A Record

On 2 April 2005, the Columbus Crew extended their streak of unbeaten league matches to an MLS-record nineteen with a 3-0 win over the L.A. Galaxy.

Columbus had finished the previous season with a string of eighteen consecutive unbeaten matches that gave them the league's best regular-season record, but they lost to New England in the post-season tournament's first round.

They returned to league play on opening day of the 2005 season, hosting Los Angeles at Crew Stadium. There, they rolled to a 3-0 victory with goals from Edson Buddle (8', 47') and Ante Razov (54'). That nineteenth consecutive league victory set a league record that remains unbeaten, though it was matched in 2010 by FC Dallas.

Monday, April 1, 2013

1 April 2009 - Bolivia Rises To The Occasion

On 1 April 2009, Argentina matched their record loss with a crushing 6-1 defeat to Bolivia in a World Cup qualifier.

It came in the twelfth round of CONMEBOL qualification. Argentina had a record of five wins, four draws, and only one loss, falling 1-0 to Chile the previous October. Bolivia, meanwhile, racked up an unimpressive collection of two wins, three draws, and six losses, including a 3-0 loss to Argentina in the teams' previous meeting.

But the rematch was played in La Paz, whose altitude had proven a hindrance to many teams in the past. Needing the win to preserve any hope of reaching South Africa, Bolivia attacked from the start and were rewarded with an 12th-minute goal from Marcelo Moreno.

Argentina drew level with a long-range blast from Lucho González in the 24th minute, but the match was all Bolivia's after that. A foul by Javier Zanetti ten minutes later led to a Bolivia penalty, converted by Joaquín Botero, who scored twice more (55', 66') to net a hat-trick on the day. As Argentina stars Carlos Tevez and Lionel Messi struggled, Bolivia got additional goals from Álex da Rosa (45') and Didí Torrico (87').

The final score matched their 6-1 loss to Czechoslovakia in 1958, a margin equaled by 5-0 losses to Uruguay in 1959 and Colombia in 1993.

Unfortunately for Bolivia, they followed their performance with only one more win and five losses, which prevented them from qualifying. Argentina reached the World Cup and made it to the quarterfinals before falling to Germany.