Monday, September 30, 2013

30 September 1944 - The Best Bhoy

On 30 September 1944, winger Jimmy Johnstonevoted by supporters as Celtic's greatest playerwas born outside Glasgow.

Only five feet, four inches tall but possessing a balance of speed and control that earned him the nickname "Jinky," Johnstone joined Celtic in 1961 at the age of sixteen and made his first-team debut the following year. In all, he spent thirteen seasons with Celtic, scoring 129 goals in 515 appearances.

In 1967, he helped the team to a record-setting quintuple by winning four domestic trophiesthe league, the Scottish Cup, the Scottish League Cup, and the Glasgow Cupand becoming the first British team to lift the European Cup. For his part, he finished third in voting for that year's Ballon d'Or. While at Celtic, he also won eight more league titles, three more Scottish Cups, four more League Cups and returned to the European Cup final in 1971.

He suffered from alcoholism, which impaired his career and led to frequent battles with Celtic manager Jock Stein. Johnstone left the club in 1975 and spent the next four years making a handful of appearances for clubs in the United States, England, Scotland, and Ireland before retiring in 1979.

In 2001, he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, which eventually claimed his life in March 2006 at the age of 61.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

29 September 2007 - This One Went To Eleven

On 29 September 2007, Portsmouth and Reading set a Premier League record with a 7-4 scoreline.

It was the eighth game of the season for both teams. Reading had struggled, with only two wins and one draw, and were sitting in seventeenth place. Portsmouth had done a bit better up that point and were in eleventh.

They met at Portsmouth's Fratton Park where the hosts jumped to a quick lead with a strike from forward Benjani Mwaruwari (pictured) in the seventh minute. He doubled the lead in the 37th minute, but Reading midfielder Stephen Hunt cut the deficit back to one right before the break.

The 2-1 halftime scoreline gave little indication of what was coming in the second half. Reading equalized through Dave Kitson three minutes after the restart, but Portsmouth then pulled back ahead with goals from Hermann Hreiðarsson (55'), Benjani (70'), and Niko Kranjčar (75') to set the margin at 5-2.

Shane Long pulled one back for the visitors in the 79th minute, but Reading defender Ívar Ingimarsson deflected a shot past his own goalkeeper, Marcus Hahnemann, two minutes later. So at the end of 90 minutes, the score stood at 6-3, but there were more goals to come. The referee awarded a penalty to Portsmouth in the second minute of stoppage time, converted by Sulley Muntari, then Portsmouth defender Sol Campbell delivered the day's last goal, but into his own net.

The match remains the highest-scoring game in the Premier League, though the record for the top flight is Nottingham Forest's 12-0 win over Leicester Fosse in 1892 (matched by West Brom over Darwen in 1909). The overall league record is 13-0, reached by Stockport County in 1934 and Newcastle in 1946.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

28 September 1972 - Total Football, Total Domination

On 28 September 1972, Ajax won the Intercontinental Cup with a 3-0 win over Independiente.

The Dutch side had finished the previous season with a triple, winning the league, the KNVB Cup, and their second European Cup. As winners of the 1971 European Cup, they had qualified to face Copa Libertadores champions Nacional in that year's Intercontinental Cup, but declined to participate. When the opportunity came again in 1972, they had a change of heart and accepted, agreeing to face Independiente in the two-legged competition.

The Argentinians hosted the first leg at La Doble Visera in Avellaneda on 6 September. Although Ajax led for 76 minutes after Johan Cruyff scored (5'), Francisco Sá's 81st-minute equalizer earned a draw.

Twenty-two days later, the teams met at the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam for the second leg. Ajax again took an early lead as Johan Neeskens scored in the 12th minute, but unlike the previous match, they were able to extend their lead. In the 65th minute, Cruyff broke through the offside trap to face the keeper one-on-one before squaring the ball for a charging Johnny Rep, who had an easy goal into an open net.

Independiente surged forward in search of a goal of their own, but could not keep possession. With their defense pushed forward, Neeskens got through again and scored in the 80th minute to seal the 3-0 victory, winning the trophy 4-1 on aggregate.

Friday, September 27, 2013

27 September 1967 - Domo Arigato, Kunishige Kamamoto

On 27 September 1967, Japan opened their Olympic qualification campaign with a record 15-0 win over the Philippines.

Japan had advanced farther than any other Asian team at the 1964 tournament, reaching the quarterfinals before losing to eventual runners-up Czechoslovakia, and were expected to reach the 1968 competition with little difficulty. But few could have expected just how easy their first qualifier would be.

Playing against the Philippines in Tokyo, Japan took the lead with a 4th-minute goal from Ryuichi Sugiyama and never looked back. Their most prolific scorer of the day was 23-year old Yanmar Diesel striker Kunishige Kamamoto (pictured), who provided six goals (15', 16', 26', 43', 64', 89'), while Teruki Miyamoto added four (20', 30', 40', 46'). The other four came from Tokutatsu Ojiro (5'), Tadashi Watanabe (63'), Sugiyama (75'), and Yasayuki Kuwahara (78'). The 15-0 scoreline remains the record margin of victory for Japan and margin of defeat for the Philippines.

The result was a sign of things to come for the Japanese, who topped their qualification group. At the Olympics in Mexico, they advanced to the bronze-medal match, where they beat the hosts 2-0. Both goals came from Kamamoto, who went on to become Japan's all-time leading scorer.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

26 September 1953 - Wolves Devour The Blues

On 26 September 1953, Wolves handed Chelsea a record loss, beating them 8-1 at Molineux.

Wolves were making a run at the league title after finishing third the previous season. Chelsea, who finished nineteenth, were looking to solidify their place in the top flight, but lost their last three games before facing Wolves and were again settling into the lower portion of the table. They arrived at Molineux in seventeenth, fourteen spots below the hosts.

The match started as expected, with Wolves taking a quick lead through a 3rd-minute penalty kick from Johnny Hancocks, but Chelsea kept it close through the first half and went into the break down only 1-0.

The second half was a different story, however. Dennis Wilshaw doubled Wolves' lead in the 48th minute, then Roy Swinbourne (pictured, 61') and Peter Broadbent (71') stretched the margin to 4-0. Chelsea's Roy Bentley scored in the 76th minute to narrow the gap, but Swinbourne got a second (79') and Jimmy Mullen's goal in the 86th minute capped the 8-1 victory, which remains Chelsea's biggest losing margin in club history.

The Blues got a measure of revenge by winning the return fixture in February, but Wolves went on to win the title, finishing four points over West Brom.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

25 September 2010 - Maybe He Developed A Taste For Celebrity

On 25 September 2010, FAR Rabat goalkeeper Khalid Askri made an error that saw him become an internet sensation for the second time in just over two weeks.

Fifteen days earlier, Askri blew a penalty save that went viral and racked up millions of views on YouTube. In a cup match against Maghreb Fez that went to a penalty shootout, he parried a kick, but as he was celebrating, the ball's spin carried it into the net for a score. Maghreb went on to win, 0-0 (7-6).

Back at home for the first time since that game (and an intervening away draw with Wydad Casablanca), FAR Rabat hosted KAC Kenitra in the league. Right before the break, with the match scoreless, one of his teammates chested the ball back to Askri, who received it at his feet just inside the 18-yard box. But he failed to notice the Kenitra player bearing down on him, who stole the ball away and drove it into the empty net.

It proved to be too much for the goalkeeper, who immediately ran off the pitch, stripping off his shirt on the way and beating himself in the head with his hands while avoiding his teammates' attempts to restrain him. That incident was also caught on video and went viral like the one before.

Although many viewers speculated that Askri had given up goalkeeping after that match, he finished the season with FAR Rabat, then spent a year with Chabab Rif Al Hoceima before moving to his current club, Raja Casablanca, in 2012.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

24 September 1983 - There's More Than One Way To Win A Title

On 24 September 1983, a brutal challenge by Andoni Goikoetxea sidelined Diego Maradona for three months with a broken ankle.

Maradona was in his second season with Barcelona after making a world-record £5 million transfer from Boca Juniors in the summer of 1982. Despite a bout with hepatitis that first season, he helped Barça win the Copa del Rey and finish fourth in the league, leading to high expectations for a season with Maradona in full health.

But that changed when they hosted defending league champions Athletic in September. With Barcelona leading 1-0 and Maradona advancing the ball, Athletic center back Andoni Goikoetxea lunged at the Argentinian from behind, catching his left leg, leaving Maradona crumpled on the pitch with broken ankle. The tackle, called by one commentator "one of the most brutal ever seen in Spanish club soccer," earned Goikoetxea the nickname "the Butcher of Bilbao" (helped by the fact that Goikoetxea had broken leg of Barcelona's Berndt Schuster two years earlier).

Barcelona went on to win the match 4-0, but Maradona missed three months in recovery. Despite his absence, the finished third in the league, one point out of first. Athletic repeated at champions and also won the Copa del Rey, beating Barcelona 1-0.

Monday, September 23, 2013

23 September 2012 - John Terry Calls It Quits

On 23 September 2012, England captain John Terry called time on his international career in the midst of a racism scandal.

The Chelsea defender debuted for England in August 2003 and was named captain by manager Steve McClaren after the 2006 World Cup. In 2008, McClaren's replacement, Fabio Capello, retained Terry as captain, but stripped the armband from him in 2010 when the defender was accused of having an extramarital affair. Although Terry played every minute of England's games at the 2010 World Cup, midfielder Steven Gerrard served as the team's skipper.

Capello reinstated Terry as captain in March 2011. But toward the end of the year, Terry was accused of using racist language against QPR's Anton Ferdinand. The FA stepped in and stripped the captaincy from him in February 2012 in advance of a court hearing later that month. The move was made over the objections of Capello, who resigned in protest.

Terry was acquitted in court, but the FA initiated their own proceedings against him, bringing formal charges in July 2012. Then, in September, the night before the hearing, he decided to retire from international football, claiming that the FA's action had made his position "untenable." The FA proceeded with the hearing and found Terry guilty, fining him £220,000 and banning him for four matches.

He closed out his England career with a total of 78 caps, ranking eighteenth on the team's all-time appearances list.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

22 September 2010 - Northampton Paints The Town Some Color Other Than Red

On 22 September 2010, fourth-division Northampton Town upset Liverpool in the League Cup, beating the Premier Leaguers on penalties.

Liverpool had already gotten off to a rough start in their first season under manager Roy Hodgson, winning one and losing two of their first five league games to drop down to sixteenth in the table. They expected a bit of relief in the League Cup against Northampton, who were sitting seventeenth in the League Two table, three divisions down, putting them 69 places below Liverpool.

But while Liverpool were entering the League Cup for the first time that season, going directly into the third round, Northampton had already played and beaten two higher-division clubs, advancing over League One's Brighton in the first round, then beating Championship side Reading on penalties in the second round.

The teams met at Anfield, where Liverpool had lost only once previously to a lower-division team in the League Cup (a 2001 loss to Grimsby Town). That record looked likely to hold when Liverpool went ahead after only eight minutes with a goal from Milan Jovanovic. But Billy McKay equalized for the visitors in the 56th minute and they stayed level until the end of regulation to force extra time.

There, Northampton took the lead with a goal from Michael Jacobs (98'), before David N'gog headed home in the 116th minute to bring the teams level again and send them into a penalty shootout. But after N'gog and Nathan Eccleston missed for Liverpool, Town's Abdul Osman converted his kick to win the day, 2-2 (2-4).

Unfortunately for Northampton, their giant-killing days were numbered and they fell to Ipswich Town in the fourth round.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

21 September 2010 - Maybe There Was Something To That Conspiracy Theory After All

On 21 September 2010, former World Cup referee Byron Moreno was arrested in New York with ten pounds of heroin in his underwear.

Moreno had already become infamous for his performance at the 2002 World Cup when he refereed the Round of 16 meeting between Italy and co-hosts South Korea. The Koreans won the match in part due to several questionable calls that included Moreno's awarding them a controversial penalty, disallowing an Italian goal that would have won the game, and ejecting Francesco Totti with a second yellow card for diving. Afterward, both Totti and Italy manager Giovanni Trapattoni claimed that FIFA had rigged the match to ensure that South Korea reached the quarterfinals as a reward for co-hosting the tournament.

Although FIFA denied any impropriety and took no action against Moreno at that time, they issued a 20-game suspension later that year after he impacted the result in an Ecuadorian match by improperly extending stoppage time, then falsifying the information in his official report. In May 2003, shortly after his return from suspension, he retired.

Then, in 2010, after arriving at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport from Ecuador, he was arrested when authorities found several bags of heroin stuffed down his pants. He pleaded guilty to smuggling charges and received a prison sentence of two and a half years.

Friday, September 20, 2013

20 September 2004 - The Passing Of Brian Clough

On 20 September 2004, Brian Clough, a manager who was equal parts controversial and successful, passed away at the age of 69.

A prolific striker in his playing days with Middlesbrough and Sunderland, his career was cut short by a knee injury when he was 29. The following year, he became the manager at Division Four club Hartlepool, where he was joined by assistant Peter Taylor. The two formed a very successful partnership--they moved to Second Division Derby County in 1967, earned promotion in 1969 and won the league in 1972.

In 1974, after feuding with the Derby directors, Clough and Taylor resigned and moved to Brighton, back in Division Three, but Clough left after less than a year to replace Don Revie at Leeds United. The move created a rift with Taylor, who remained at Brighton while Clough lasted only 44 days at Leeds.

He then took charge of Nottingham Forest in 1975 and reconciled with Taylor, who joined him there in 1976. They won the league in 1978 and followed that success with two consecutive European Cups. By 1982, however, the pair fell out again, in part over Taylor's return to Derby, and never spoke again. Clough remained at Forest until his retirement in 1993.

In 2003, he successfully recovered from liver transplant surgery, but lost his life to stomach cancer a year later.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

19 September 2012 - Sundhage's Sayonara

On 19 September 2012, Pia Sundhage closed out her time in charge of the US women's team with a 6-2 win over Australia.

The United States picked the former Swedish national team star in November 2007 to take over from embattled manager Greg Ryan. At the time, she was an assistant with China, her only international managerial role, but she had previous experience at the club level, including spells with Kolbotn, KIF Örebo, and the Boston Breakers.

In her five years at the helm, the United States won Olympic gold in 2008, were runners-up in the 2011 World Cup (losing to Japan on penalties), then repeated as Olympic champions in 2012. Shortly afterward, she announced that she was stepping down to return to Sweden.

Her last match was a friendly against Australia, part of the team's post-Olympic Fan Tribute Tour. A sold-out crowd of 18,598 gathered in Commerce City, Colorado and watched as the teams played to a 2-2 draw at the break. But the US got four second-half goals from Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, Shannon Boxx, and Sydney Leroux to claim the 6-2 victory.

The match left Sundhage with an overall US record of 91 wins, 10 draws, and only six losses. She currently manages the Swedish national team.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

18 September 1982 - Masters Of The NASL Universe

On 18 September 1982, the New York Cosmos won their fifth NASL title, beating Seattle with a goal from Giorgio Chinaglia.

It was their fifth appearance in the final in six years. They finished as runners-up in a penalty shootout in 1981, after winning it in 1977, 1978, and 1980 (they also won the title in 1972). With a defense anchored by goalkeeper Hubert Birkenmeier and center back Andranik Eskandarian and an attack led by Chinagliaall NASL All-Starsthe Cosmos had the league's best record in the regular season. Seattle weren't far behind, winning the Western Division with an All-Star of their own, on-loan Nottingham Forest forward Peter Ward.

They met at San Diego's Jack Murphy Stadium, where they played before a relatively small crowd of 22,634. Although Seattle went on the attack early, outshooting New York 8-1 in the first twenty minutes, New York went ahead in the 37th minute, as Chinaglia fired a shot from 12 yards out that hit Seattle keeper Paul Hammond and rebounded into the goal.

It was all New York needed. Birkenmeier and the Cosmos defense, who had kept clean sheets through regulation in the two previous finals, did so again to hold on for the 1-0 win.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

17 September 2005 - Never Too Old To Lend A Hand (Or Foot)

On 17 September 2005, Preki simultaneously became MLS's oldest assist provider and Kansas City's all-time assist leader when he helped them earn a 2-2 draw with Los Angeles.

The 42-year old striker was in his ninth season with Kansas City. He first joined them in 1996, then left in 2001 for a season with Miami before returning to the Wizards in 2002. During his time there, he won the MLS Cup in 2000 and the US Open Cup in 2003, and was twice named the league's MVP, in 1997 and 2003. To date, he remains the only player to win that award more than once.

In 2005, however, the team was struggling and by September looked unlikely to make the MLS playoffs. The Galaxy were still hopeful of reaching the postseason and took a substantial step toward that goal by going up 0-2 against Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium with goals from Chris Albright (26') and Hercules Gomez (36').

The margin held until the 81st minute, when Davy Arnaud headed home from a corner kick. Five minutes later, Preki provided his record-setting assist to Josh Wolff, who equalized with another header. Preki's precise age was 42 years and 85 days, which remains an MLS record. It was also his 98th career assist for Kansas City, a club record.

Unfortunately for Kansas City, the draw did not help them reach the playoffs. Los Angeles did make it, though, and went on to win the MLS Cup over New England, 1-0.

Monday, September 16, 2013

16 September 1996 - I Didn't Even Know They Kept Those Kinds Of Records

On 16 September 1996, midfielder Patrick Vieira made his Arsenal debut and later captained the team to an undefeated season.

Just twenty years old at the time, Vieira had spent two seasons at Cannes at one at AC Milan before moving to Arsenal on 14 August 1996 for a transfer fee of £3.5 million. Arsenal had sacked manager Bruce Rioch two days earlier and were in the process of lining up Arsène Wenger to replace him, starting in October. In the meantime, they used a pair of caretaker managers in Stewart Houston and Pat Rice.

The latter was in charge when Sheffield Wednesday visited Highbury in the sixth week of the season. After the opening kick was delayed by 25 minutes due to a power failure in part of the stadium, Wednesday took another 25 minutes to jump in front with a goal from striker Andy Booth. Three minutes later, Vieira made his entrance, coming on in the 28th minute for the injured Ray Parlour.

He made an immediate impact, as Arsenal controlled the final 15 minutes of the first half, then dominated the second half, getting an equalizer from David Platt (57') and a hat-trick from Ian Wright (61' (pen.), 78', 89') to win 4-1. (Wednesday did get some consolation that day, as a shot from David Hirst set the Premier League for fastest shot on goal, reaching the speed of 183 km/h (114 mph) before hitting the crossbar).

Vieira became a regular starter shortly afterward, then took over as captain for the 2002-03 season. The following year, with Vieira still wearing the armband, Arsenal won the league with an undefeated record. By the time he left for Juventus in July 2005, he had won three league titles and four FA Cups with the Gunners.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

15 September 1978 - Iceland's Greatest Goalscorer

On 15 September 1978, Eiður Guðjohnsen, Iceland's all-time leading scorer, was born in Reykjavík.

A striker/midfielder, he started his career in 1994 with Valur Reykjavík, but spent only one season there. Since then, he has played for twelve different clubs, including successful spells with PSV (1995-97), Chelsea (2000-06), and Barcelona (2006-09), collecting league titles with all three. The one with Barcelona was in the 2008-09 season, when he also won the Copa del Rey and the Champions League.

He earned his first cap in 1996 and made history in April of that year when he came on as a substitute to replace his father, Arnór (though the two were never played together). He has since amassed a total of 74 caps, scoring a team-record 24 goals in the process.

Guðjohnsen currently plays for Brugge, whom he joined in January 2013.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

14 September 2000 - It's Not How You Start, It's How You Finish

On 14 September 2000, the Norwegian women's team kicked off the Olympics with a loss to the US, but they got their revenge in the final.

It was only the second time women's football had appeared at the Olympics. The United States won the first tournament in 1996, while Norway finished third. The two teams met in the semifinals, where the US advanced thanks to a 100th-minute golden goal from Shannon MacMillan.

They were drawn into the same group for the 2000 tournament and opened against each other at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. MacMillan was still on the team, but this time the damage was done by her teammates Tiffeny Milbrett (18') and Mia Hamm (24').

Despite the loss, Norway finished second to the US in the group and both teams advanced. They eventually reached the final, where Norway got a late goal from Dagny Mellgren (102') to win the gold medal 3-2 (a.e.t.).

Friday, September 13, 2013

13 September 2008 - He Really Wasn't That Type Of Player

On 13 September 2008, Chelsea beat Manchester City away, 1-3, despite losing captain John Terry to a red card in the second half.

The match marked the debut of City's new marquee signing Robinho, who had joined them from Real Madrid earlier that summer for a fee of €42.5 million. With all eyes on the Brazilian forward, he rose to the occasion by delivering the opening goal with a free kick from twenty yards out in just the 13th minute.

Unfortunately for the home supporters, the lead lasted only three minutes as a Chelsea corner kick led to an equalizer from Ricardo Carvalho, who blasted the ball into the roof of the net from close range. Frank Lampard then put the visitors ahead when he beat goalkeeper Jo Hart from the edge of the box in the 53rd minute, and Nicolas Anelka added a third Chelsea goal in the 69th minute.

Everything was going Chelsea's way until the 77th minute, when Terry received his red card. As City striker Jô raced past him with the ball, Terry brought him down with what appeared to be a deliberate arm around the waist. Although the foul happened near the center circle, referee Mark Halsey showed a red card, the first of Terry's career. Chelsea held on to their lead, winning 1-3.

A few days later, league officials overturned the red card, making Terry available for the next game against Manchester United, which they drew 1-1.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

12 September 1990 - Cafu Starts A Cap Collection

On 12 September 1990, Cafu made the first of his record 142 appearances for Brazil in a 3-0 loss to Spain.

Twenty years old at the time, he had started his professional career with São Paulo the previous year as a midfielder, but did not make an appearance until 1990 after switching to right back. The move earned him a call-up from new national team manager Paulo Roberto Falcão for a friendly against Spain.

They met at the Estádio el Molinón in Gíjón, where Spain rolled to a confortable 3-0 victory, their first over Brazil since 1934. For his part, Cafu earned a yellow card and second-half substitution.

He continued to make limited appearances for Brazil through the early '90s, including an appearance in the 1994 World Cup Final, which Brazil won, then became a regular starter in the latter half of the decade, winning two Copa Américas and another World Cup in 2002. He got his last cap in 2006 and retired in 2008.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

11 September 2011 - Beating The Brazilians At Their Own Game

On 11 September 2011, Russia won the Beach Soccer World Cup, beating thirteen-time champions Brazil by the score of 12-8.

Started in 1995 as the Beach Soccer World Championship, the tournament was contested every year up through 2009, when it switched to a two-year schedule. Brazil, who hosted it every year through 2007, won it thirteen times and reached the final once more, finishing as runners-up to France in 2005. The only time they failed to reach the final was in 2001, when Portugal won the title and Brazil finished fourth.

Russia, meanwhile, were in their first final. They had participated in only four previous tournaments, exiting in the group stage in 1996 and 2007, then reaching back-to-back quarterfinals in 2008 and 2009 (where they were eliminated by Brazil and Switzerland, respectively).

Meeting at the Stadio del Mare in Ravenna, Italy, Russia opened the scoring in the second minute. By the 32nd minute, with only four left to play, they were up 12-5 and looked to have the trophy secured. But Brazil made a late challenge, getting three goals from André to close the gap to 12-8 (he was the final's top scorer with six).

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

10 September 2005 - The Premier League's Most Pointless Run

On 10 September 2005, Chelsea handed Sunderland their record 20th consecutive Premier League defeat, a tally that stretched back to 2003.

The run of losses started against Everton on 18 January 2003 and continued through the remaining fourteen games of the season. Unsurprisingly, the Black Cats finished at the bottom of the table and were relegated to Division One. After two seasons in the second tier, they made their way back to the Premier League for the 2005-06 season.

But they had not left their losing streak behind in the intervening years and started the new season with losses to Charlton, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Wigan to bring the run to nineteen consecutive Premier League defeats. That brought up the game against Chelsea, who started their season with four consecutive wins.

Playing at Stamford Bridge, Sunderland fought hard to end their frustration and managed to go into the break level at 0-0. But they conceded second half goals from Geremi (54') and Didier Drogba (82') to push their losing streak to twenty games.

It ended there, as Sunderland drew their next match at home to West Brom, then they won the one after that, beating Middlesbrough 2-0. But another run of bad form followed and they finished the season at the bottom of the table again and were relegated for the next season.

Monday, September 9, 2013

9 September 1998 - And Everybody Says A Two-Goal Lead Is The Most Dangerous

On 9 September 1998, Wimbledon rallied from a 3-0 deficit to beat West Ham 3-4 in one of the Premier League's biggest comebacks.

It was the fourth game of the season for both teams, who were undefeated. The hosts, West Ham, had beaten Wimbledon twice the previous season, including a 3-1 victory at Upton Park, and few thought the day's result would be much different.

The Hammers reinforced those thoughts by going up 3-0 midway through the first half, with goals from former Arsenal teammates John Hartson (7') and Ian Wright (14', 27'). Wimbledon's Marcus Gayle pulled one back in the 30th minute to go into the break down by the familiar score of 3-1.

But the second half was all Wimbledon's. In the 64th minute, a defensive miscue from West Ham center back Javier Margas allowed Jason Euell to close the gap to 3-2. Then Gayle struck again in the 77th minute and Wimbledon were back on level terms. That alone was reason for the visitors to celebrate, but four minutes later Wimbledon substitute Efan Ekoku took a pass from Euell and scored the winner.

Unfortunately for Wimbledon, the game was one of the few highlights in a long and difficult season that saw them slump from fourth place after beating West Ham to sixteenth in the final table. West Ham, meanwhile, rallied to a fifth-place finish.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

8 September 2011 - There's No Place Like A New Home

On 8 September 2011, Juventus opened their new stadium by drawing 1-1 with English third tier side Notts County.

Built over a period of two and a half years at a construction cost of €120 million, Juventus Stadium is the latest in a string of home grounds for the Bianconeri, including the Stadio Olimpico (where thet played from 1933 to 1990 and again from 2006 to 2011) and the Stadio delle Alpi (1990-2006). To mark the occasion, they invited Notts County for a friendly.

The invitation was a nod to the significant role Notts County had already played in Juventus history. In 1903, when the Italians were looking to replace their existing pink shirts, team member John Savage contacted a friend back in England who sent a shipment of Notts County's black and white striped shirts that have since become a Juventus trademark.

The match itself did not go according to plan for the hosts, who took a 1-0 lead with a Luca Toni goal in the 53rd minute, only to concede a strike from Lee Hughes with only three minutes left. Still, the move turned out to have a positive effect on the team, who went on to have an undefeated season in Serie A to win their first league title since 2003.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

7 September 1947 - Ponta Delgada Does The Double

On 7 September 1947, Ponta Delgada (pictured) beat Chicago Sparta to claim the first National Challenge Cup/National Amateur Cup Double.

Based in Fall River, Massachusetts, they nearly won the Double the previous year, reaching the finals of both tournaments. But while they won the Amateur Cup over Pittsburgh Castle Shannon, they lost the Challenge Cup (the predecessor to the current U.S. Open Cup) to Chicago Viking.

In May 1947, they repeated as Amateur Cup champions by crushing St. Louis Carondelets 10-1, then started their assault on the Challenge Cup. In the quarterfinals, they beat Philadelphia Americans 5-3 (aet), then rolled over Brooklyn Hispano in the semis, 11-1 on aggregate to set up their meeting with Chicago in the final, played over two legs.

They hosted the first leg on August 31 and won 6-1, making the second leg almost a formality. And while the score in Chicago was closer, Ponta Delgada won again, 3-2, making them the first team in American history to win both competitions in one year.

In recognition of their success, the entire Ponta Delgada squad made up the United States team at the 1947 North American Football Confederation Championship. Unfortunately, they lost to both Mexico and Cuba to finish third out of the three teams.

They went on to win the Amateur Cup again in 1948 and nearly did the Double again in 1950 when they finished as Amateur Cup champions and Challenge Cup runners-up.

Friday, September 6, 2013

6 September 2011 - The Wait Wasn't As Long For The Next One

On 6 September 2011, striker Robert Lewandowski gave Poland their first goal against Germany in over 31 years as they played to a 2-2 draw.

Poland has, over the course of the team's existence, had a very poor record against Germany (counting games against West Germany before unification). Prior to the 2011 match, the two teams had met sixteen times, with the Germans winning twelve of those and the other four ending as draws. The last Polish player to score against Germany was Łódź striker Zbigniew Boniek in May 1980 (two years later, Boniek moved to Italy where he enjoyed successful spells with Juventus and Roma). Since then, the teams had met only four times, with Germany winning each one.

But in Gdánsk in 2011, Robert Lewandowski--who had just moved to Germany after joining Borussia Dortmund the year before--completed the end of a 55th-minute counter-attack to put Poland up 1-0. The lead lasted only thirteen minutes before thee referee awarded a penalty to Germany, duly converted by Toni Kroos.

Poland received a penalty of their own in the 90th minute, with Jakub Blaszczykowski taking the honors and restoring the lead. But with just seconds left, the hosts were denied a landmark victory when second-half substitute striker Cacau scored in the 94th minute to end the game as a 2-2 draw.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

5 September 1882 - The Spark Of Spurs

On 5 September 1882, Tottenham Hotspur formed as an offshoot of the Hotspur Cricket Club and went on to secure a host of domestic and European honors.

According to an early club history, the Hotspur Cricket Club issued subscriptions to their new football branch on 5 September 1882. The funds from those subscriptions, "augmented by a small sum from the cricket club," were used to purchase equipment, including wood for the goal posts, corner flags, and a ball. Originally named "Hotspur FC," the existence of an earlier club by that name promoted the change to Tottenham Hotspur.

The new club joined the Southern League for the 1896-97 season and won the title in 1900. They followed that by winning the FA Cup in 1901, becoming the first team from outside the Football League to do so since that league was formed.

They were elected into the Football League's Second Division for the 1908-09 season, then reached the top flight the following season. Spurs won the league in 1951, then again in 1961 as part of the 20th century's first Double. In 1963, they became the first British team to win a European trophy by lifting the Cup Winner's Cup over Atlético Madrid.

Since then, they have added two UEFA Cup titles (1972 and 1984), and have amassed a total of eight FA Cups, four League Cups, and seven Charity Shields.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

4 September 1949 - Mexico Delivers A Straight Six

On 4 September 1949, Mexico beat the United States 6-0, the largest margin of victory in the rivalry between the two teams.

It wasn't much of a rivalry at that point, to be fair. After the United States won the first meeting in 1934, Mexico took the next four by scores of 7-2, 7-3, 5-1, and 5-0. That last one came in the 1947 North American Football Confederation Championship, which ended with Mexico as champions and the United States in third place out of three teams (hosts Cuba finished second).

They met again in the first game of the 1949 NAFC Championship, which also served as the confederation's qualifying tournament for the 1950 World Cup. Playing in Mexico City, the hosts went up 3-0 in the first half with goals from Antonio Flores (20'), Luis Luna (30'), and Luis de la Fuente (37').

De la Fuente completed his hat-trick in the second half with strikes in the 55th and 58th minutes, then Carlos Septién added a final punctuation mark in the 85th minute. Mexico went on to win the title, but the US rallied to finish second, which earned them a trip to the World Cup.

Since then, the rivalry has become more competitive. In a total of 62 meetings, Mexico have won 33 and the United States have won 16. But no game has seen a greater margin of victory than that 6-0 scoreline from 1949.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

3 September 2011 - The Pharaohs Fall

On 3 September 2011, Egypt's bid for a fourth straight Africa Cup of Nations title ended with a loss to Sierra Leone during qualification for the 2012 tournament.

The tournament's most successful team, Egypt has lifted the cup seven times, including three straight in 2006, 2008, and 2010. Sierra Leone, meanwhile, had qualified for the tournament only twice before and exited in the first round both times.

Playing in qualification group G, the two teams played to a 1-1 draw in September 2010, the first qualification match for both of them. Egypt followed it with two losses and a draw, while Sierra Leone got a win, a draw, and a loss. The results meant that by the time they met for their rematch, Egypt were at the bottom of the group table, six points behind leaders Niger with two games left. With only the top team advancing, the Pharaohs needed to beat Sierra Leone and Niger in their last two games to have any hope of reaching the tournament.

Sierra Leone hosted the game at the National Stadium in Freetown and took a 14th-minute lead with an own-goal from Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Elneny. Striker Marwan Mohsen equalized in first-half stoppage time and the match remained level at 1-1 deep into the second half. But in the 89th minute, the referee awarded a penalty to the hosts, which Mohamed Bangura converted to put Sierra Leone up 2-1. That remained the final score, ending Egypt's chances of defending their title.

Egypt's elimination opened the door for a new champion and Zambia emerged as the surprise winners.

Monday, September 2, 2013

2 September 1893 - The League Comes To London

On 2 September 1893, London hosted its very first Football League match as Arsenal and Newcastle United played to a 2-2 draw.

Established in 1888, the Football League was based in the north of England and had, for the first few years, consisted solely of northern clubs. But a series of expansions saw the addition of the Second Division in 1982, followed by the inclusion of five new clubs for the 1893-94 season, including Liverpool, Newcastle, Middlesbrough Ironopolis, Rotherham, and Arsenal, the first southern team to join.

For opening day, Newcastle traveled to Arsenal's Manor Ground in Plumstead, where a crowd of 10,000 assembled for the occasion. Arsenal took a quick lead, as Walter Shaw scored in just the sixth minute, and the first half ended 1-0. Shortly after the restart, the hosts extended their lead with a goal from Arthur Elliott.

Newcastle came back, though, with late strikes from their right and left wingers, Crate and Sorley, to split the points. They went on to finish the season in fifth, while Arsenal ended up in ninth, and fellow newcomers Liverpool won the title by eight points over Birmingham City.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

1 September 1904 - The Change In Scenery Did Them Good

On 1 September 1904, West Ham opened their new Boleyn Groundbetter known as Upton Parkagainst a familiar opponent.

Formed in 1895 as Thames Ironworks, the club migrated around in their first couple of seasons, first playing at Hermit Road, then Browning Road before settling in at Plaistow's Memorial Grounds in 1897. But with a capacity of only 10,000, that was another temporary situation. The new ground, named Boleyn Ground after a nearby home rumored to have connections to Anne Boleyn, was located in London's Upton Park neighborhood, giving rise to the new stadium's popular name.

West Ham's first game there was against local rivals Millwall. The two teams had already met 23 times, with Millwall winning fourteen to West Ham's five. The visitors were also on a twelve-game unbeaten streak in the derby. But the change in scenery helped the Hammers, who opened the new stadium with a comfortable 3-0 win.

West Ham have remained there since, though they recently signed a lease to take over London's Olympic Stadium and expect to start playing there in the 2016-17 season.