Tuesday, October 21, 2014

21 October 2001 - San Jose Knows The Way

On 21 October 2001, the San Jose Earthquakes claimed their first MLS honors, coming from behind to defeat the Los Angeles Galaxy 2-1 in the MLS Cup Final before a crowd of 21,626 at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

Los Angeles went ahead in the 21st minute as Galaxy defender Greg Vanney beat the San Jose defense with a 40-yard pass to forward Luis Hernandez. Hernandez received the pass just inside the San Jose 18-yard box and sent a strong right-footed shot past 'Quakes keeper Joe Cannon.

San Jose equalized in the 43rd minute, as forward Landon Donovan ran onto a loose ball in the Galaxy's penalty area and first-touched a powerful shot past Galaxy keeper Kevin Hartman.

The two sides played to a stalemate through the remainder of regulation, taking the match into overtime. In the 6th minute of overtime, San Jose forward Dwayne DeRosario (pictured)--who had come on as a substitute in the 85th minute--hit a curling shot from the top of the box. It caromed off the right post and into the net past Hartman's outstretched hands, giving San Jose the sudden-death victory.

It was the only match all season in which the Earthquakes had come from behind to win and only the second MLS Cup Final to be decided in overtime.

Monday, October 20, 2014

20 October 1976 - The Club Took Their Name Quite Literally

On 20 October 1976, 15-year old Diego Maradona became the youngest player in Argentina's Primera División history when he made his professional debut for Argentinos Juniors in a home match against Talleres de Córdoba.

With Argentinos trailing 1-0, he entered the match as a substitute in the 46th minute, wearing the number 16 shirt. Maradona was still 10 days away from his 16th birthday at the time. 

Argentinos lost the match, 1-0, but Maradona would go on to make an additional 166 appearances for Argentinos from 1976-80, scoring 115 goals. In 1981, he transferred to Boca Juniors for £1 million. Coincidentially, Maradona's debut for Boca was also against Talleres, but that time his side emerged 4-1 winners. 

Maradona's record as the youngest player to appear in the Primera División lasted until 7 July 2003, when Sergio Agüero debuted for Independiente at the age of 15 years, 35 days.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

19 October 1957 - The Sun Shines On Celtic

On 19 October 1957, Celtic defeated Rangers 7-1 in the Scottish League Cup Final before a crowd of 82,293 at Hampden Park in Glasgow. The match set the record scoreline for a British cup final, and ranks as the greatest margin of victory in an Old Firm derby as well as Rangers' greatest defeat.

The stage was set for high drama from the beginning, as it was the first League Cup Final to be contested by the Old Firm. Celtic entered the match as Cup holders, having won it the previous season, while Rangers were the defending league champions.

The Hoops dominated the first half, though Rangers managed to keep a fairly respectable scoreline. Celtic forward Sammy Wilson scored the first goal from a cross in the 22nd minute and winger Neil Mochan doubled the advantage in the 44th minute.

After the break, Celtic forward Billy McPhail extended the lead to 3-0 in the 53rd minute before Rangers forward Billy Simpson pulled one back in the 58th minute. Then the floodgates opened. McPhail scored his second in the 67th minute, then Mochan did likewise in the 75th. McPhail netted another in the 80th minute to complete his hat-trick. He was fouled in the box in the 90th minute, but deferred the kick to right-half Willie Fernie, who converted to close the scoring at 7-1.

The match was nicknamed "Hampden in the Sun," after a song sung by Celtic supporters to the tune of Harry Belafonte's hit song "Island in the Sun," which had climbed the UK singles charts that summer.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

18 October 2005 - Henry's Record Goal

On 18 October 2005, Thierry Henry scored a brace to lift Arsenal past Sparta Prague on the third matchday of the UEFA Champions League group stage. In doing so, he passed former record holder Ian Wright to become the club's top goalscorer.

The match was played at Sparta Stadium in Prague before a crowd of over 12,500. Arsenal were heavy favorites, on top of the group with two wins, while Sparta were on bottom with a draw and a loss. Henry, who had just come off a near six-week layoff due to a groin injury, put Arsenal ahead in the 21st minute, tying Ian Wright's Arsenal scoring record of 185. The record-breaking 186th goal came in the 74th minute, as Henry calmly controlled a long ball with his heel, then curled the strike in from the edge of the area.

Arsenal made it to the Final in Paris that year, but lost to Barcelona, 2-1.

Henry left Arsenal for Barcelona in 2007, after amassing a total of 226 goals for the Gunners. He returned in 2011-12 on loan from the New York Red Bulls and scored another two goals, taking his total for the club to 228.

Friday, October 17, 2014

17 October 2007 - Steve Staunton's Last Stand

On 17 October 2007, the Republic of Ireland narrowly avoided what would have been one of their worst home defeats in history by scoring in the last minute of stoppage time to draw with Cyprus, 1-1. The match was a Euro 2008 qualifer played before a crowd of 54,000 at Croke Park in Dublin.

The Irish side went into the match vowing to exact revenge for a 5-2 loss inflicted by the Cypriots in Nicosia on 7 October 2006. That loss placed immense pressure on Republic boss Steve Staunton, who had assumed the post in January 2006.

In the rematch, Ireland tested the Cypriots early, but were unable to beat goalkeeper Antonis Georgallides. Irish captain Robbie Keane had the best chance to put the Republic ahead in the 75th minute, but his header went inches wide. Instead, it was Cyprus who took the lead when, in the 80th minute, defender Stelios Okkarides headed the ball in past Irish keeper Shay Given.

The Republic's chances appeared all but over until the 93rd minute, when Ireland defender Steve Finnan found the back of the net with what was nearly the last kick of the match.

The last-gasp goal may have preserved the Republic's pride, but the draw eliminated them from Euro 2008 with one match left to play. Staunton, who still holds the most caps for the Republic at 102, was sacked one week later.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

16 October 2004 - Eastwood Was Quick On The Draw

On 16 October 2004, 19-year old Welsh forward Freddy Eastwood made his first League start in record-setting fashion, scoring for Southend United in the first few seconds. He added two more goals later to complete his hat-trick, leading Southend to a 4-2 win over Swansea City.

Eastwood started his football career with Southend as a member of their youth squad from 1997 to 1999. In 1999, he moved to West Ham's youth academy and signed his first professional contract with the Hammers in 2002. He was released in 2003, having failed to make any League appearances.

He signed with non-League side Grays Athletic for the 2003-04 season, and became the club's top scorer that season with 37 goals. In October 2004, he returned on loan to Southend, then in League Two.

In that first match, he headed home a cross in 7.7 seconds, a League record for a debut (but behind the overall record of 3.5 seconds set by Barrow's Colin Cowperthwaite against Kettering Town in 1979). Eastwood scored his second in the 58th minute, then his third in the 87th minute.

Eastwood left Southend after the 2006-07 season, having scored 49 league goals in 111 appearances, but returned in 2012 and played another two seasons there. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

15 October 1968 - Birth Of The Golden Generation

On 15 October 1968, former French national team captain and current manager Didier Deschamps was born in Bayonne, France.

A defensive midfielder, Deschamps began his professional playing career with Nantes in 1985, making 110 appearances, but is best known for his time with Olympique de Marseille (1989-90, 1991-94) and Juventus (1994-99).

In April 1989, during his last season with Nantes, Deschamps earned his first cap for France, a 0-0 home draw against Yugoslavia. France failed to qualify for the World Cup in 1990 and 1994, but Deschamps took over as captain in 1996 and led the side to a period of success known as "the Golden Generation."

Under Deschamps' leadership, France advanced to the semi-finals in Euro '96 before losing on penalties to the Czech Republic. France then claimed the ultimate prize by winning the 1998 World Cup with a 3-0 win over Brazil in the Final. Two years later, Les Bleus won Euro 2000, becoming the first team to hold both titles simultaneously since West Germany did it in 1974.

Deschamps retired from international play in 2000 after making 103 appearances.

In 2001, he turned to management, starting with Monaco. He moved to Juventus for the 2006-07 season, then moved back to France in 2009 to helm his old club, Marseille where he stayed until taking charge of the French national team in 2012.