Thursday, November 20, 2014

20 November 1971 - A Hat-Trick Of Hat-Tricks

On 20 November 1971, Third Division side Bournemouth thoroughly thrashed the Southern League's Margate by the score of 11-0 in the First Round of the 1971-72 FA Cup. Bournemouth's hero that day was 24-year old Scottish forward Ted "SuperMac" MacDougall (pictured), who scored nine of the Cherries' eleven goals.

MacDougall had joined Bournemouth in the summer of 1969 (when the club was still known as "Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic") after being acquired from York City for £10,000. He scored 21 league goals for the Cherries that season, but they were nonetheless relegated to Division Four. Under new manager John Bond, they were promoted at the first opportunity and were enjoying their return to the Third Division when they met Margate in the FA Cup.

MacDougall scored five goals in the first half, prompting the Margate manager to ask Bond jokingly to substitute the forward in the second half. MacDougall went on to score four more after the break.

The Cherries advanced to the Third Round where they were eliminated 1-0 by Walsall. MacDougall moved to Manchester United in September 1972 for a transfer fee of £200,000, but never settled. He played for a number of other clubs, including a second stint at Bournemouth, before retiring in 1980.

His 9 goals still hold the FA Cup record for the most scored by a player in a single game.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

19 November 1969 - O Milésimo

On 19 November 1969, Santos defeated Vasco da Gama away, 1-2, before a crowd of over 65,000 at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. The winning goal was scored by 29-year old Santos forward Pelé--his 1,000th goal for club and country.

The Brazilian public was eager to see the goal, known as "o milésimo." In Santos' previous match, with Pelé sitting on 999 goals, the home crowd booed when one of their own players blocked one of Pelé's subsequent shots. The Vasco da Gama supporters were no different, cheering each of his attempts on 19 November. The Vasco da Gama players, however, were eager to prevent the milestone from occurring against them. Indeed, when a Santos player sent in a cross for Pelé, a Vasco defender headed it into his own goal rather than allow Pelé to receive it.

The moment finally arrived late in the match after Pelé was tripped in the box and the referee signaled for a penalty. Pelé calmly stepped up to the spot and slotted a low shot into the bottom right corner to claim the win. The crowd invaded the pitch and carried Pelé away on their shoulders.

By the time he retired in 1977, Pelé had scored a record-setting 1,281 goals. While some critics claim that several of the goals should not count because they were scored in friendlies, FIFA nevertheless recognizes Pelé's 1,281 goals as the most ever scored by a professional footballer.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

18 November 2003 - DC Likes 'Em Young

On 18 November 2003, DC United signed United States U-17 international Freddy Adu to his first professional contract, making the 14-year, 169-day old Adu the youngest athlete to sign a professional contract for a team sport in the United States in over 100 years.

Born in Ghana in 1989, Adu emigrated to the United States in 1997, becoming a US citizen in 2003. While growing up in Maryland, he quickly displayed a talent for the game. As a 10-year old, he played with the US U-14 squad and began to draw attention from noted clubs including Inter Milan and Manchester United. In January 2002, he joined the US Soccer Federation's U-17 residential program at the IMG Soccer Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

Despite the interest from Europe, Adu and his family decided he should stay close to home with MLS and DC United. He made his first appearance for DC as a second-half substitute in their season opener on 3 April 2004. He played in all 30 regular season matches, finishing with five goals and three assists, and also helped DC to the 2004 MLS Cup.

Though moderately successful, Adu's time in DC was marred by complaints over playing time and positioning and, in December 2006, he moved to Real Salt Lake. He has since changed clubs a number of times, including a stint at Benfica and loan spells with Monaco and Belenenses.

Before signing Adu, DC United had previously signed the league's youngest players in Bobby Convey (2000) and Santino Quaranta (2001), both of whom were 16 at the time they signed.

Monday, November 17, 2014

17 November 2007 - Zanetti Pops A Record Cap

On 17 November 2007, Argentina defeated Bolivia, 3-0, in a World Cup qualifier before a crowd of 43,308 at Buenos Aires' Estadio Antonio V. Liberti. In that match, Argentina captain Javier Zanetti made his 116th appearance for his country, becoming Argentina's most-capped player.

Zanetti made his international debut on 16 November 1994. He represented Argentina for the 1998 and 2002 World Cups, but was controversially omitted from the 2006 World Cup squad by then-coach José Pekerman. Pekerman resigned after the tournament, however, and was replaced by Alfio Basile, who recalled Zanetti for a friendly against France on 7 February 2007. Since then, he has remained a mainstay of the national team, with 136 caps at present.

The match against Bolivia was a convincing win, with a first-half goal from Sergio Agüero (40') and a second-half brace from Juan Román Riquelme (56', 74'). Argentina struggled throughout the remainder of qualification, though, securing its trip to South Africa only on the last day with a 0-1 away win over Uruguay.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

16 November 2003 - Barça Enters The Dragon

On 16 November 2003, Porto defeated Barcelona, 2-0, in a friendly held to inaugurate Porto's new stadium, Estádio do Dragão.

Boasting a capacity of 50,399 and built at a cost of €98 million, the stadium was designed by architect Manuel Salgado as intended as one of the venues for the 2004 UEFA European Championship. The name Dragão, which is also a nickname for the club, refers to the dragon on Porto's crest.

Barcelona were accommodating visitors for the opening match, conceding goals to Porto strikers Vanderlei Silva and Hugo Almeida. The match remains notable for the Catalan club, however, as the first-team debut for 16-year old winger Lionel Messi.

Unfortunately for Porto, problems with the pitch prevented them from moving into the new stadium full-time until February 2004. Nevertheless, the new venue proved good luck for Porto, who went on that season to claim their 20th league title and their second Champions League trophy.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

15 November 2006 - The Reign Of Spain Starts After This Game

On 15 November 2006, Romania defeated Spain, 0-1, in a friendly played in Cadiz. The match was Spain's last loss before going on a world record-setting run of 35 matches unbeaten, a streak that also saw them win the 2008 European Championship.

Spain limped into the match against Romania, having been eliminated from the 2006 World Cup by France in the first knockout round and losing their last two matches, a couple of 2008 UEFA Euro qualifiers against Northern Ireland and Sweden. Manager Luis Aragonés shook up his side for the match, calling up Valencia star David Silva for his senior debut along with Celta Vigo's Angel Lopez and Sevilla's Javi Navarro.

Silva threatened a couple of times during a scoreless first half, but Romanian striker Ciprian Marica notched the match's only goal when he beat Iker Casillas with a low second-half shot into the far corner.

Spain rallied after the loss, rattling off a string of 35 unbeaten matches (32 wins, 3 draws) over the next three years. The highlight of that streak was the 1-0 win over Germany in the 2008 UEFA Euro Final. The United States finally ended the run, beating Spain 2-0 on 24 June 2009 in the semi-finals of the 2009 Confederations Cup.

Friday, November 14, 2014

14 November 1934 - The Battle Of Highbury

On 14 November 1934, England defeated Italy 3-2 before a crowd of 56,000 at Arsenal Stadium in London. Although a friendly, the match was a violent affair, resulting in several injuries, including broken bones, earning it the nickname "The Battle of Highbury."

The match generated a lot of excitement, pitting World Cup-holders Italy against traditionally strong England. The Three Lions had not participated in the 1934 World Cup and viewed the match as an opportunity to stake their claim as the world's best side. Similarly, Italy sought to solidify their status as world champions. Prime Minister Benito Mussolini reportedly offered the Italian players a victory bounty including a car and the equivalent of £150 if they beat the English team.

Italy got off to a rough start, as center half Luis Monti suffered a broken foot after a challenge by England center forward Ted Drake in the second minute and had to leave the pitch. At that time, the rules did not allow for substitutions, so Italy played the remainder of the match with 10 men.

Monti's injury sparked retaliation by the Italians and English full back Eddie Hapgood received a broken nose, while outside left Eric Brook had his arm broken. Nevertheless, England took a 3-0 lead into the break with goals from Brook (3', 10') and Drake (12').

Despite being down a man, Italy fought back in the second half with a brace from inside forward Giuseppe Meazza (58', 62'). He came to close to completing a hat-trick, but his potential equalizer hit the woodwork and the match ended 3-2.

In addition to providing a dramatic display of international football, the match set an English record by including seven starters from Arsenal--the first (and to date, only) time the English national team started seven players from the same club.