Saturday, March 31, 2012

31 March 2010 - He May Have Barcelona DNA, But His Heart Was All Arsenal

On 31 March 2010, Arsenal captain Cesc Fàbregas scored the equalizing goal against Barcelona in the Champions League quarterfinal. And he did it with a broken leg.

Fàbregas, who joined Arsenal in 2003 after five years at Barcelona's youth academy, had been the subject of longstanding transfer rumors linking him with a return to his former club, adding a lot of spice to the match-up.

Barcelona, as the reigning champions, were heavy favorites, but the Gunners managed to hold them to a scoreless draw until the break. Less than one minute after the restart, however, a long pass went over the Arsenal backline to a racing Zlatan Ibrahimović, who beat keeper Manuel Almunia with a lobbed ball to the far post. He then doubled the lead in the 59th minute, after another overhead ball left him one-on-one with Almunia. But Arsenal midfielder Theo Walcott narrowed the gap ten minutes later with a precise finish.

As Arsenal pushed forward for an equalizer, Barça's Carles Puyol fouled Fàbregas in the box in the 85th minute. Fàbregas stepped up to the spot and converted the ensuing penalty, then immediately afterward started limping. It appeared that he pulled a muscle, but scans later revealed that Puyol's foul had resulted in a small fracture in his right fibula.

The injury forced Fàbregas to miss the return leg, which Barcelona won 4-1. He remained with Arsenal for one more season, then transferred to Barça in August 2011 for £29 million.

Arsenal vs Barcelona 2-2 31/03/2010 Highlights by

Friday, March 30, 2012

30 March 2010 - C'était Une Affaire Française

On 30 March 2010, Lyon and Bordeaux met for the first all-French contest in the Champions League, with Lyon emerging as 3-1 winners.

Bordeaux, the reigning Ligue 1 champions, were again at the top of the table, four spots above Lyon, and had beaten them in the league back in December. The Girondins had also gotten off to a flying start in the Champions League, winning six of their first seven matches to reach the quarterfinals (the other was a 1-1 draw with Juventus in the group stage). There, they met Lyon, who had just eliminated Real Madrid in the Round of 16.

The teams' meeting at Lyon's Stade Gerland was a first, as French teams had met five times previously in UEFA competitions, but never before in the Champions League. Lyon marked the occasion by taking a 10th-minute lead with a goal from striker Lisandro López (pictured). Not to be outdone, Bordeaux forward Marouane Chamakh drew the visitors level four minutes later.

Lyon regained the lead in the 32nd minute with a goal from Michel Bastos, then sealed the win with a 77th-minute penalty kick from López. That final goal proved to be crucial, as Bordeaux won the second leg 1-0, but lost 3-2 on aggregate.

Lyon vs Bordeaux 3-1 30 03 2010 Highlights by hhhlllify

Thursday, March 29, 2012

29 March 2000 - (Un)Welcome Home, Wales

On 29 March 2000, Wales played their first match at the new Millenium Stadium in Cardiff. And lost 1-2.

Built on the site of the old national ground, Cardiff Arms Park, construction on the stadium finished in the summer of 1999 at a total cost of £121 million. The Welsh rugby team hosted the first major event there, beating South Africa in a friendly.

The football team's turn came the following spring, as they hosted Finland in a friendly of their own. A crowd of 65,000 showed up for the event, setting a new national team record (though it has since been broken). Unfortunately for the home fans, however, Finnish midfielder Jari Litmanen (pictured, battling Wales' Robbie Savage) scored the opening goal in the 21st minute. Welsh striker Nathan Blake found the back of the net in the 42nd minute, but it was the wrong net, putting the Finns up 0-2.

Ryan Giggs pulled one back in the 60th minute, but that was the last goal of the day and Finland left as 1-2 winners.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

28 March 1897 - Born To Run (The German National Team)

On 28 March 1897, Josef "Sepp" Herberger was born in Mannheim, Germany. He went on to manage the German national team for almost thirty years, winning a World Cup in the process.

A striker, Herberger's playing career lasted from 1914 to 1930 and included spells with Waldhof Mannheim (1914-21), VfR Mannheim (1921-26), and Tennis Borussia Berlin (1926-30). During that time, he also made three appearances for the German national team.

But he made his greatest mark as a manager, starting with Tennis Borussia in 1930. Two years later, he joined the German national team as an assistant coach, then took the top job in 1936. Renowned as a tactical genius, his first crack at a World Cup ended poorly, as Germany were eliminated in the first round that year by Switzerland. And they were banned from the next tournament, in 1950, due to Germany's role in World War II.

But in 1954, as the manager of the West German team, he finally claimed football's ultimate prize, upsetting tournament favorites Hungary in the final. Hungary, who had beaten the Germans 8-3 in the group stage, took a 2-0 lead after only eight minutes, but Herberger's team rallied to claim a 3-2 victory that has since been dubbed "the Miracle of Bern."

He returned to the tournament as West Germany's manager in 1958, finishing fourth, and again in 1962, when they were eliminated by Yugoslavia in the quarterfinals. He retired in 1964 having won just over 64 percent of his games. He later died in 1977 at the age of 80.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

27 March 1988 - Kundé Claims The Cup For Cameroon

On 27 March 1988, Cameroon won their second African Cup of Nations, beating Nigeria with a second-half penalty from defender Emmanuel Kundé. It was Cameroon's third trip to the final and the second one in which they faced Nigeria (they beat the Super Eagles 3-1 in 1984 to claim their first title).

The two teams were paired in the same group for the 1988 tournament and had played to a 1-1 draw. Nigeria went on to top the group, with Cameroon in second. Cameroon advanced to the final with a 1-0 win over Morocco, while Nigeria claimed their spot by beating Algeria on penalties, 1-1 (9-8).

Throughout the tournament, goals were scarce. With a total of sixteen matches, teams scored more than one goal only twice. The final, played before a crowd of 60,000 at the Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca, continued that trend, as the teams played to a hard-fought scoreless draw at the break. Ultimately, they were separated only by a 55th-minute penalty kick, duly converted by Kundé to seal the win for Cameroon.

Since then, the Indomitable Lions have won the cup twice more (2000, 2002) to take their overall total to four. Nigeria, meanwhile, has two cups of their own, won in 1980 and 1994.

Monday, March 26, 2012

26 March 1983 - A Final Cup For Paisley's Cupboard

On 26 March 1983, Bob Paisley, Liverpool's most decorated manager, won his last major cup, beating Manchester United in the League Cup Final, 2-1.

Paisley spent his entire professional career at Liverpool, playing there from 1939 to 1954, then joining the coaching staff. When manager Bill Shankly retired in 1974, Paisley took charge and proceeded to win an astounding club-record 20 major trophies, including six league titles and three European Cups. The 1982-83 season was his last at Anfield and he went out in style, winning his last two pieces of silverware.

The first of the two was the League Cup, his final tournament trophy. Playing before a crowd of 99,304, Liverpool faced Manchester United and quickly fell behind after United forward and captain Norman Whiteside scored in the 12th minute. They were still trailing deep into the second half until left back Alan Kennedy equalized in the 75th minute.

Still level at 1-1 after 90 minutes, the match went into extra time, where Liverpool midfielder Ronnie Whelan scored in the 98th minute. It proved to be the match-winner, giving the Reds a 2-1 victory.

Liverpool went on to give Paisley his final trophy by winning the league that season, finishing eleven points clear of runners-up Watford.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

25 March 2006 - Reading Rockets To The Top

On 25 March 2006, Reading FC secured promotion to the Premier League with a 1-1 draw at Leicester City. And they did it in record time.

As recently as 2002, they were in Division Two, but they won promotion to Division One that year, then reached the Championship in 2004. In their second season there, they got off to a poor start, losing to Plymouth 1-2 on opening day. But they followed that loss by going unbeaten for their next 33 league matches--they lost only twice all season. Along the way, they took the table's top spot in November and held on to it for the duration.

Going into their match against Leicester City, Reading were 16 points clear of second-place Sheffield United, with seven matches left to play for both teams. Critically, they were also nineteen and twenty points clear, respectively, of Walsall and Leeds United, who were the other teams in contention for the top two automatic promotion spots.

Approximately 3,000 Reading supporters made the trip to Walkers Stadium--part of an overall crowd of 25,578--only to see the visitors go down 1-0 in the 38th minute due to a goal from Leicester's Iain Hume. But they equalized with a header from Kevin Doyle in the 85th minute and escaped with a draw. As it turned out, the results from the day's other matches meant they would have secured a top-two finish even with a loss.

It was their first promotion to the top flight and it was the earliest any team had guaranteed promotion since the league went to a 46-game season. Unfortunately for Reading, they stayed in the Premier League for only two seasons before dropping back down to the Championship in 2008.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

24 March 1949 - No Kremers Versus Kremers

On 24 March 1949, Helmut and Erwin Kremers were born in Mönchengladbach. They went on to become German internationals and the first twins to play in the Bundesliga.

Both of them started their careers as youth players with their hometown team, Borussia Mönchengladbach, then joined the club as professionals in 1967. They continued as teammates at other clubs. moving to Kickers Offenbach in 1969, then to Schalke in 1971. Erwin, a striker, retired in 1979, but Helmut, a full back, played for three more years, remaining with Schalke until 1980 then spending time with Rot-Weiss Essen (1980-81), the Calgary Boomers (1981) and the Memphis Americans (1981-82).

Virtually inseparable at the club level, the brothers played together only twice on the international stage. Erwin made 15 appearances for West Germany between 1972 and 1974, winning the 1972 European Championship. Helmut received a later a call-up and got fewer caps--8 between 1973 and 1975--but was part of West Germany's World Cup-winning side in 1974.

Despite their footballing accomplishments, they are widely remembered for their 1974 record release, "Das Mädchen Meiner Träume," which translates to "The Girl of My Dreams." The B-side was apparently titled "Mo-Di-Mi-Do," which, I assume, needs no translation.

Friday, March 23, 2012

23 March 1997 - The Battle Of Beverwijk

On 23 March 1998, a clash between supporter groups of Feyenoord and Ajax turned fatal, as Carlo Picornie was beaten to death.

Dutch hooliganism dates back to the 1960s, with a particularly heated rivalry developing between the firms of Feyenoord and Ajax, two of the country's most successful clubs. In 1997, the two firms scheduled a confrontation for February, but it failed to materialize as the Ajax group retreated when faced with the larger, heavily armed Feyenoord group.

They coordinated another meeting for 23 March, despite the fact that the two teams did not play each other that day. They faced each other in a small field outside the town of Beverwijk, about 12 miles north of Amsterdam. The fight lasted only about five minutes, but in that short span, Picornie, a 35-year old Ajax supporter, died after being stabbed and beaten with several objects. A hotel manager and father of two, Picornie had reportedly been a leader of the Ajax firm in previous years.

The escalation of violence provoked a strong reaction in the Netherlands, triggering efforts by the Dutch government to crack down on hooliganism. Video footage of the incident led to several arrests, but the authorities were unable to identify the people directly responsible for Picornie's death.

[For more on the Battle of Beverwijk, see Understanding Football Hooliganism: A Comparison of Six Western Football Clubs by Ramón Spaaij.]

Thursday, March 22, 2012

22 March 1866 - The First Trentside Derby

On 22 March 1866, Nottingham Forest and Notts County played each other for the first time in a match that also happened to be Forest's first official game.

Forest were originally organized to play shinty, a stick-based game similar to hockey. But in 1865, J. S. Scrimshaw proposed that the club switch to football. The players met at the Clinton Arms on Shakespeare Street and voted in favor of the switch.

The following year, for their first official match, they scheduled a friendly with fellow Trentside club Notts County. Although Notts County were the more experienced club, having been founded in 1962, that experience did not translate into an advantage and the match ended as a scoreless draw.

Since then, the two teams have played a total of 94 times in the league, FA Cup, and League Cup, resulting in 40 wins for Forest, 30 for Notts County, and 24 draws.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

21 March 1998 - The Fire Show Their Spark

On 21 March 1998, the Chicago Fire got off to good start, beating fellow MLS expansion team Miami Fusion 2-0 in their first league match.

Chicago and Miami joined MLS that year as the league's eleventh and twelfth teams and met in Fort Lauderdale on the season's opening day. Playing before a crowd of 14,653 at Lockhart Stadium, the two were inseparable in the first half, going into the break scoreless despite playing open and attacking football.

They combined for a total of 30 shots on the day (14 for Chicago and 16 for Miami), though they got only five each on goal. Fortunately for Chicago, two of theirs went in, as Roman Kosecki (76') and Ritchie Kotschau (87') found the back of the net to give the Fire a 2-0 victory.

It was the start to a fantastic season for Chicago, who went on to finish second in the league's Western Conference, then won the MLS Cup with a 2-0 win over DC United in October.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

20 March 1991 - The Night The Lights Went Out In Marseille

On 20 March 1991, defending champions Milan forfeited their European Cup quarterfinal against Marseille when they refused to play the last two minutes.

After drawing the first leg in Milan 1-1 two weeks earlier, they met at Marseille's Stade Vélodrome for the second leg. It was a contentious match, with referee Bo Karlsson issuing five yellow cards, three to Milan and two to Marseille. It remained scoreless deep into the second half, when Marseille finally took the lead with a 75th-minute goal from winger Chris Waddle.

With two minutes of stoppage time remaining and the score still 1-0, half of the stadium's floodlights went out, forcing Karlsson to halt the match. He intended it to be a temporary halt, but when the lights came back on fifteen minutes later, Milan director Adriano Galliani refused to put his team back on the pitch, claiming that television crews had "disrupted the match" by going out onto the field, though some critics accused him of angling for a replay. In any event, UEFA declared it a forfeit, awarding the victory to Marseille.

Afterward, UEFA banned Milan from European competition for one year and also suspended Galliani from all official functions until July 1993.

Marseille made their way to the final, where they lost on penalties to Red Star Belgrade.

Monday, March 19, 2012

19 March 1924 - The Mighty Joe Gaetjens

On 19 March 1924, Joe Gaetjens, who scored one of the most memorable goals in the history of the United States national team, was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Born to a prominent family--one great-grandfather was sent to Haiti on a mission by the king of Prussia and another was a general involved in Haiti's fight for independence--Gaetjens started his career with L'Etoile Hatienne, where he won championships in 1942 and 1944. But in 1947, the then-23-year old forward moved to New York to study accounting at Columbia University.

While there, he continued to play football for American Soccer League club Brookhattan, owned by Eugene Diaz, and supplemented his pay by washing dishes at Diaz's Harlem cafe. Gaetjens was the ASL's top scorer in 1950, which led to his inclusion on the US roster for the 1950 World Cup in Brazil. (He was eligible under the rules at the time, which required only that players had signed a paper expressing their intent to apply for citizenship, which Gaetjens had done.) There, after an opening 3-1 loss to Spain, Gaetjens scored with a diving header to beat England 1-0, one of the greatest upsets in World Cup history.

Afterward, he played briefly in France, including a short spell with Racing Club de Paris, then returned to Haiti and made a solitary appearance for the Haitian national team in 1953. He started a dry cleaning business and coached youth football until 1964, when, due to political activities of his younger brothers, he was imprisoned upon the orders of Haitian president François "Papa Doc" Duvalier. He was never seen in public again and his death remains a subject of speculation.

[For more on Gaetjens' life, read Chasing Gaetjens by Leander Schaerlaeckens.]

Sunday, March 18, 2012

18 March 2010 - Juventus Get Their Fill Of Fulham

On 18 March 2010, Fulham rallied from a 4-1 aggregate deficit to beat Juventus in the Europa Cup, 5-4.

It was only Fulham's second appearance in a UEFA competition, but they beat several more experienced sides on the way to their meeting with Juventus, including group-stage wins over Basel (twice) and CSKA Sofia, plus a knockout round aggregate victory over Shakhtar Donetsk.

They lost their first leg against Juventus in Turin on 11 March, 3-1, presenting an uphill battle for the second leg at Craven Cottage. That hill became a little steeper in just the second minute, as Juventus striker David Trezeguet scored to extend their aggregate lead to 4-1.

Fulham got a lifeline seven minutes later with a goal from striker Bobby Zamora, then caught a break when Juventus defender Fabio Cannavaro received a straight red card for a cynical foul on Zoltán Gera in the 27th minute. Gera made Juventus pay in the 39th minute, scoring from two yards out to narrow the aggregate margin to 4-3. Shortly after the break, Gera brought Fulham level when the referee awarded a 49th-minute penalty for a Juventus handball. Then, in the 83rd minute, with extra-time looming, Fulham substitute Clint Dempsey unleashed an arcing shot from outside the penalty area that flew into the top far corner of the net. It was a remarkable goal and sealed the victory.

Fulham eventually reached the tournament final before falling to Atlético Madrid.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

17 March 1996 - I Suppose Now It's Just An Italian Cup

On 17 March 1996, Genoa won the last Anglo-Italian Cup, beating Port Vale 5-2. And the match wasn't as close as the score makes it seem.

Established in 1970, the tournament came and went in different phases until the 1996 edition, which was the competition's eighth and last year, with eight English teams and eight Italian teams participating. They were evenly divided into two groups, then played each team in their group from the other country (Genoa and Port Vale played to a scoreless draw in their group). In each group, the top two teams from each country then advanced to the knockout rounds, where the English played against the English and the Italians played against the Italians until one team from each country reached the final.

Playing at Wembley, Genoa cruised to a 3-0 lead with goals from Gennaro Ruotolo (12'), Fabio Galante (21'), and Vincenzo Montella (39'). After the break, Ruotolo struck twice more (54', 66') to extended the lead to 5-0. Port Vale got a late brace from Martin Foyle (68', 82') to close the gap to three, but that proved to be the final margin.

Genoa's win evened the overall tournament results to four for each country, as English teams won in 1970 (Swindon Town), 1971 (Blackpool), 1973 (Newcastle), and 1995 (Notts County), and Italian teams won in 1972 (Roma), 1993 (Cremonese), and 1994 (Brescia).

Friday, March 16, 2012

16 March 2002 - The Battle Of Bramall Lane

On 16 March 2002, a match between Sheffield United and West Brom was abandoned after 82 minutes and three red cards.

The ejections started early, as United goalkeeper Simon Tracey received a 9th-minute red card for handling the ball outside the box, forcing United to make an early substitution to bring on their back-up keeper. West Brom capitalized on the man advantage, with forward Scott Dobie scoring in the 18th minute. Captain Derek McInnes doubled the lead in the 63rd minute, then sparks started to fly.

United manager Neil Warnock made a double substitution in the 64th minute, bringing on midfielder Georges Santos and forward Patrick Suffo, but neither remained on the pitch for long. Santos received his red card in the 65th minute for a violent two-footed tackle on West Brom's Andy Johnson. One minute later, Suffo received his marching orders for headbutting McInnes.

After another goal from Dobie (77'), United lost two more players to injury. Having already made all three substitutions and lost three players, they were down to six men, leading referee Eddie Wolstenholme to abandon the match in the 83rd minute.

West Brom manager Gary Megsom refused to participate in a replay, but it turned out to be unnecessary, as the FA allowed the 0-3 result to stand.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

15 March 2009 - The City Of Fights (Again)

On 15 March 2009, Marseille ended PSG's seven-game unbeaten streak and cost them the top spot. And that wasn't the worst of it.

PSG had won six of their previous seven matches to climb from sixth to second in the table. A victory over Marseille would have sent them into first over Lyon. But despite having won 2-4 at Marseille back in October, the rematch proved to be more difficult.

Playing before a crowd of almost 45,000 at the Parc des Princes, the visitors had a couple of close chances in the first five minutes and finally went ahead in the 24th minute with a goal from their Dutch midfielder Bolo Zenden (pictured). PSG's Ludovic Giuly equalized two minutes before the break, but the second half belonged to Marseille.

Shortly after the restart, PSG went down to ten men after Zoumana Camara was ejected for a challenge on Zenden, then Marseille extended their lead with goals from Bakari Kone (55') and Lorik Cana (61') to claim the 1-3 win. The real excitement came after the match, however, as clashes between the two supporters groups resulted in 22 arrests. It was the latest in a series of incidents in the rivalry dating back to April 1995, when 146 were arrested after a Coupe de France semifinal.

The loss dropped PSG back into sixth and sent Marseille up to second, which is where the teams finished the season.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

14 March 1979 - Introducing The Incredible Sulk

On 14 March 1979, striker Nicolas Anelka was born in Le Chesnay, France. He went on to become the world's most expensive footballer, raising almost £85M in transfer fees over the course of his career.

That career started with Paris Saint-Germain in 1996, but he made only 12 appearances for them before moving to Arsenal for a fee of £500,000 in 1997. In London, he was part of the Double-winning side of 1997-98, then contributed 18 goals in the 1998-99 season and won the PFA Young Player of the Year award. But he grew discontent with his role and his salary, earning the nickname "Le Sulk," and moved to Real Madrid that summer for £22.3M.

Additional moves followed in short order, with Anelka rarely staying long in one place. After winning the Champions League with Real Madrid in 2000, he returned to PSG later that year (transfer fee: £20M), then spent time with Manchester City (£12M), Fenerbahçe (£7M), Bolton (£8M), and Chelsea (£15M). His transfer fees to that point totaled £84.8M, which was a record until Cristiano Ronaldo's £80M move from Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2009 put his total over £92M.

Anelka won another Premier League title with Chelsea, along with two more FA Cups. He also won the league's Golden Boot after scoring 19 league goals for them in the 2008-09 season. But he fell out of favor in the ensuing seasons and moved to Shanghai Shenhua on a free transfer in January 2012.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

13 March 2011 - Brisbane Sinks The Mariners

On 13 March 2011, the Brisbane Roar recovered from a two-goal deficit to claim the A-League title on penalties over the Central Coast Mariners.

The win capped a remarkable season for Brisbane, who had gone undefeated since September 12, finishing the regular season with a record of 18 wins, eleven draws, and only one loss. In their two matches against Central Coast, they scored eight goals, winning 1-5 and drawing 3-3.

When the teams met in the Grand Final, neither side managed to find the net for the first 90 minutes. That changed in the first period of extra time, as Mariners went up 2-0 with goals from forward Adam Kwasnik (96') and midfielder Oliver Bozanic (103'). But the Roar pulled one back in the second period, with substitute striker Henrique beating Mariners goalkeeper Matthew Ryan in the 117th minute. Then, in the final minute, midfielder Erik Paartalu scored the equalizer.

In the ensuing penalty shootout, Brisbane keeper Michael Theoklitos saved two of Central Coast's first four shots to keep his team up 3-2. Henrique then stepped up to take Brisbane's fourth kick and beat Ryan once more for the win, claiming their first league title.

Brisbane's unbeaten streak continued until November 2011, lasting a league record 36 matches.

Monday, March 12, 2012

12 March 1881 - His Selection Was Elementary

On 12 March 1881, Queen's Park fullback Andrew Watson became the world's first black international footballer when he received his first cap for Scotland.

Born in British Guiana as the son of a Scottish sugar planter, Watson (pictured, center) enrolled at the University of Glasgow where his studies included math and engineering. While there, he developed a love of football.

He first played for Maxwell FC, then Parkgrove FC and, eventually, Queen's Park (he also served as a club administrator for the latter two) . While at Queen's Park, he earned high accolades, with the 1880-81 Scottish Football Association Annual calling him "one of the very best backs we have; since joining Queen's Park has made rapid strides to the front as a player; has great speed and tackles splendidly; powerful and sure kick; well worthy of a place in any representative team."

He got his first call-up to the national team for a friendly against England, captaining Scotland in their 6-1 win. He earned two other caps in his career; both were victories as well.

After retiring in 1887 after spells with Swifts, Corinthians, and a second stint at Queen's Park, Watson moved to Australia, remaining there until his death in 1902.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

11 March 1900 - The New Kids On The Piazza

On 11 March 1900, Juventus played their first competitive match, losing 0-1 to Torinese. It was one of only four matches for them that season.

Founded in November 1897, at approximately the same time the first Italian league contests began, Juventus were not admitted to the league until three years later. At the time, the league, known as the Italian Football Championship, was divided into regional groups, with the group winners advancing to a series of playoffs.

Only six teams participated in the 1900 edition, with Juventus joined in the Piedmont group with FBC Torinese and Ginnastica Torino (both unrelated to the current Torino FC). The other groups were Liguria, which included Genoa and Sampierdarenese, and Lombardy, which had only one team, Milan.

Torinese had already beaten Ginnastica Torino before meeting Juventus at the Piazza d'Armi. Still wearing their original pink and black kits, Juventus fell by a single goal. They went on to beat Ginnastica twice, both times by the score of 2-0, before losing again to Torinese 2-1.

They eventually won the first of twenty-seven titles in 1905 after changing to their current black-and-white striped shirts, while Torinese were disbanded in 1906.

[Retro shirt company Toff's sells a replica of the 1900 shirt, which can be found here.]

Saturday, March 10, 2012

10 March 1905 - Turns Out, They've Got Quite A Bit Of History

On 10 March 1905, Chelsea FC were founded at the Rising Sun pub in Fulham. They've since become one of England's most successful clubs.

The club's story starts with Gus Mears. In 1904, he purchased the Stamford Bridge ground in Fulham which was, to that point, the home of the London Athletics Club. Mears planned to redevelop the ground into a state-of-the art football facility, with the intent of hosting the area's existing local team, Fulham FC. But Fulham were not interested, so Mears decided to start his own club instead. Meeting at the pub across from the grounds entrance, he chose the name Chelsea after the neighboring borough.

The new club joined the Football League's Second Division that first year, then went on to win their first promotion two years later. They took their first major honor in 1955, winning the league. They added several other trophies through the latter part of the 20th century, including three FA Cups (1970, 1997, 2000), two League Cups (1965, 1998) and two Cup Winners' Cups (1971, 1998).

But their most successful period to date started with 2003-04 season after their acquisition by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. Since then, they have finished as league champions three times (2005, 2006, 2010) and runners-up four times (2004, 2007, 2008, 2011), with the only exception being a third-place finish in 2009. They've also won three more FA Cups (2007, 2009, 2010), two more League Cups (2005, 2007), and reached the Champions League final (2008).

Friday, March 9, 2012

9 March 2011 - Canada Claims Their Cup

On 9 March 2011, a 99th-minute goal from defender Emily Zurrer gave Canada their third Cyprus Cup in four years, beating the Netherlands 2-1 (aet).

Established in 2008, the Cyprus Cup is a women's invitational competition in Cyprus featuring national teams from around the world. Canada won the first edition, then finished as runners-up to England in 2009 before winning it again in 2010.

Twelve teams participated in 2011, split into three groups of four. At the end of the group stage, the teams were paired up in various combinations in the placement round, with the winners of Groups A and B playing for the title. That year, Canada and the Netherlands were those two teams, with each winning all of their group matches.

In the final, the Canadians took a 20th-minute lead with a goal from Jonelle Filigno. But Dutch striker Claudia van den Heiligenberg drew the Netherlands level twenty minutes later. The teams went to extra time, where Zurrer won the match with only the second goal of her international career (she had scored the first one, also a match-winner, just one week earlier in Canada's opening group stage victory over Scotland).

The win also tipped Canada's all-time winning percentage over .500, giving them a record of 110 wins, 109 losses, and 34 draws.

Canada returned to the final again in 2012, but lost to France, 0-2.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

8 March 1873 - We'll Go Ahead And Call It Evinced, Then

On 8 March 1873, England and Scotland met for just the second time, with both teams getting their first goals. Unfortunately for Scotland, England got more of them.

After playing to a scoreless draw in Glasgow the previous November, the teams held a rematch in London at the Surrey Cricket Ground, better known as The Oval. The Scots were led by Queen's Park goalkeeper Robert Gardner, while England were also captained by their goalkeeper, Crystal Palace's Alexander Morten. (At 41 years, 113 days old, Morten remains the English record-holder for oldest debutant and oldest captain.)

Playing before a crowd of 3,000 people, England adopted a slightly more defensive formation for the match, abandoning their previous 1-2-7 for the 2-2-6 used by Scotland. Even so, they scored the opening goal, with William Kenyon-Slaney netting in the first minute. Alexander Bonsor doubled the lead nine minutes later, but Scotland drew level with goals from Henry Renny-Tailyour (12') and William Gibb (20').

The Scots tired in the game's latter stages, however, and conceded another goal to Kenyon-Slaney (60'), followed by one more to Charley Chenery (75') to end the day as a 4-2 win for England.

The subsequent match report said "If any proof were necessary to evince the growing popularity of the winter game of wielders of the willow, there was sufficient evidence on this occasion to convince the most sceptical that football, if only aided by fine weather, is a game that could take its place among the leading pastimes of the day."

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

7 March 1954 - There's Nothing Like A Little Motivation

On 7 March 1954, in their first-ever meeting, South Korea crushed Japan 1-5 in a World Cup qualifier in Tokyo.

It was a match that carried a lot of political tension. Though they were the only two members in their qualification group (after China withdrew), Korean president Syngman Rhee initially refused to sanction any game against Japan due to their actions against Korea in World War II. He eventually relented, but only in part. Instead of home and away matches as required by FIFA, he demanded that both matches be played in Japan so that no "past invader" would set foot on Korean soil. He also told the Korean players "Be prepared to throw yourselves in the ocean if you lose."

Thankfully for them, that was not required, though they may have been worried when Japan took a 16th-minute lead with a goal from Ken Naganuma. But Chung Nam-Sick equalized six minutes later and Korea never looked back, getting additional goals from Choi Kwang-Suk (34'), Sung Nak-Woon (65'), and Choi Jung-Min (82', 85').

They played again in Tokyo one week later. That match ended as a 2-2 draw, which was enough to send Korea to their first World Cup in Switzerland.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

6 March 1962 - Farewell Boys, It's Been Fun (But Not Much Fun)

On 6 March 1962, Accrington Stanley, suffering from crippling debts, resigned from the Football League with thirteen matches left on their schedule.

Founded in 1891 as Stanley Villa (after the Stanley Arms in Accrington), they took the name Accrington Stanley after the collapse of Accrington FC, one of the founding Football League clubs. After playing their first several seasons in the non-League Lancashire Combination, they were eventually elected to the League's Division Three (North) in 1921. They challenged for promotion on several occasions, including two second-place finishes in 1955 and 1958.

When they finally switched divisions, it was in the other direction. Placed in Division Three upon the league's re-organization in 1958, they were relegated to Division Four the following season. That's where they were in February 1962 when club chairman Edwin Slinger disclosed that Stanley were deeply in debt to the tune of £8,000. A subsequent creditors' meeting revealed that the situation was actually much worse, as they owed an additional £40,000.

Seeing no way clear of the financial crisis, Stanley played their last League match on 2 March--a 4-0 loss to Crewe Alexandra--then submitted their letter of resignation to the League office four days later.

The club tried to persevere, returning to the Lancashire Combination, but closed their doors for good in 1966. In 1968, supporters founded a new club under the name Accrington Stanley, who have since risen through the pyramid to their current position in League Two.

(The photograph, credited to Rex Features, shows Ms. Sarah Dewhirst removing the club's washing machine from their Peel Park ground.)

Monday, March 5, 2012

5 March 1892 - They Were Masters Of Time And Space

On 5 March 1892, England played and won two different matches by identical scores of 2-0.

The occasion was that year's British Home Championship, contested among England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. The latter two opened the competition with a 1-1 draw a week earlier, then both had their second matches scheduled against England, but on the same day. And in two different locations. So the English sent two different teams.

Wales hosted one team at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham and fell to goals from Arthur Henfrey and Rupert Sandilands. Meanwhile, England's other team beat Ireland at the Solitude Ground in Belfast with a brace from Harry Daft (pictured). Daft and Henfrey were teammates at Corinthians, while Sandilands played his club ball for Old Westminsters.

Afterward, England got a month-long break before their next match, a 4-1 win over Scotland on 2 April that secured their fifth BHC trophy.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

4 March 1995 - That 8-2 Result Doesn't Seem Quite So Bad Now

On 4 March 1995, Manchester United striker Andy Cole netted a record 5 times against Ipswich en route to a 9-0 win. It remains the largest margin of victory in Premier League history.

United were the two-time defending champions, having won both titles since the Premier League's creation in 1992, and were challenging for a third. Ipswich, meanwhile, were in the relegation zone, just one spot off the table's bottom. But they had beaten United earlier in the season, claiming a 3-2 win at Portman Road back in September.

Playing before a crowd of almost 44,000 at Old Trafford, United showed early on that they were not expecting a repeat of the previous match. In just the 16th minute, Roy Keane put them up 1-0 with a blast from outside the box, then Cole struck twice from close range (23', 37') to set the margin at 3-0 by the break.

Things only got worse for Ipswich in the second half, as Cole scored twice more (53', 65') around a pair of goals from Mark Hughes (54', 59'). Paul Ince added an eighth in the 72nd minute, then Cole struck again in the 88th, making him the first player to score five teams in a Premier League match (though the overall top-flight record remains 7, scored by Arsenal's Ted Drake in 1935). The 9-0 result is also the Premier League's record margin (though the overall top-flight record is 12, set by West Brom in 1892 and matched by Nottingham Forest in 1909).

Cole's tally has since been matched by Alan Shearer, Jermain Defoe, and Dimitar Berbatov, but has not been exceeded in a Premier League contest.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

3 March 2011 - Pellegrini's Unwelcome Return

On 3 March 2011, Real Madrid welcomed their former manager back to the Bernabeu by crushing his new team 7-0.

The manager in question was Manuel Pellegrini, who had taken charge of Real Madrid in June 2009 for their second Galacticos period that saw them acquire Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso, and Karim Benzema for an approximate total of £200M in transfer fees. But after only one season--in which they finished as league runners-up to Barcelona--the club sacked Pellegrini in order to hire José Mourinho.

In November 2010, Pellegrini signed a three-year deal to manage Málaga. They had already lost to Real Madrid in the league the previous month, so the game in March was his first time facing his former employers.

It was a rout. Two of Pellegrini's signings scored a total of five goals (three from Ronaldo and two from Benzema), while Ángel di María and and Marcelo added goals of their own to stretch the margin to 7-0. When the final whistle blew, Málaga were down to nine men, with one ejected and one injured after Pellegrini had made all three substitutions.

Although the loss sent them down to 19th place, things did get better for the club. They finished the season in eleventh, and are currently sitting in sixth this season.

Friday, March 2, 2012

2 March 1980 - A Win Of Olympic Proportions

On 2 March 1980, Paraguayan side Olimpia won the Intercontinental Cup over Malmö with an aggregate score of 3-1 over two legs.

The Swedes weren't originally supposed to be there, as the competition was designed to pit the Copa Libertadores champions against the European Cup holders. But when Nottingham Forest, winners of the 1979 European Cup, declined to participate, Malmö were called in as runners-up.

In the first leg, played in Sweden on 18 November, Olimpia escaped with narrow win, beating the hosts 0-1 with a goal from forward Evaristo Isasi in the 41st minute. Then, in Asunción for the second leg, defender Alicio Solalinde (pictured) scored in the 39th minute to extend their aggregate lead to 2-0. Malmö midfielder Ingemar Erlandsson pulled one back shortly after the break, but it was the only time they got the ball past goalkeeper Hugo Almeida. Olimpia added another of their own for good measure to set the final margin at 3-1.

It was the last two-legged version of the Intercontinental Cup as the competition switched to a single-match format later that year. Olimpia returned in 1990 and again in 2002, but lost to AC Milan and Real Madrid, respectively.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

1 March 2008 - At Least Lille Got To Share In The Record

On 1 March 2008, a record crowd turned out to watch Lyon continue the march to their seventh straight Ligue 1 title with a 1-0 victory over Lille.

The result was easy to predict, as Lyon had been at the top of the table since the end of September, while Lille were twenty points back in fourteenth place despite having just completed eight straight matches unbeaten. But in order to celebrate the tenth anniversary of France's victory in the 1998 World Cup final, the match was moved from Lyon's Stade Gerland (with a capacity of 40,500) to the stadium where Les Bleus lifted the trophy, the Stade de France. The move allowed an all-time league record crowd of 77,840 to attend, dwarfing the previous league record of 57,609 set at Marseille's Stade Velodrome in 2005.

To their credit, Lille--who had held Lyon to a 1-1 draw earlier in the season--put up a fight, but eventually conceded a goal in the 32nd minute when Lyon's Brazilian striker Fred (pictured) connected with a cross and drove the ball into the back of the net. It turned out to be the only goal of the day, though Lille came close to an equalizer in the 60th minute when Pierre-Alain Frau hit the bar.

Lyon remained at the top to take their seventh straight Ligue 1 title, while Lille lost only once more to climb to seventh in the final table.