Wednesday, September 20, 2017

20 September 2011 - Women And Children First

On 20 September 2011, Fenerbahçe and Manisaspor played in front of a crowd of women and children only. 

The unusual crowd resulted from a friendly that Fenerbahçe hosted against Shakhtar Donetsk the previous July. Several home supporters invaded the pitch, prompting the Turkish football association to take action. They originally ordered Fenerbahçe to play two of their home matches behind closed doors, but later decided to allow a crowd of women and children.

More than 41,000 of them turned up for the match, with players from both teams tossing flowers into the stands. The match ended as a 1-1 draw, but Fenerbahçe captain Alex De Souza said afterward "This memory will stay with me forever. It's not always that you see so many women and children in one game." 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

19 September 1926 - The San Siro Sees Action

On 19 September 1926, Milan and Inter inaugurated the San Siro with a friendly. Inter won, 3-6.

Although the two teams share the stadium now, it originally belonged to Milan. The idea for the new stadium came from club president Piero Pirelli, who also funded the 5 million lire construction cost. Contrary to the multi-use model of most Italian grounds at the time, architect Ulisse Stacchini rejected the inclusion of a track surrounding the pitch in order to create a more intimate setting for the stadium's capacity crowd of 35,000.

Named the New San Siro Football Stadium after the district in which it is located, the new stadium did not have an auspicious start for Milan, as they lost that first match to Inter, 3-6, then lost their first league match there as well.

The club sold the stadium to the city of Milan in 1935, but the Rossoneri remained the sole occupant until 1947, when Inter became joint tenants. In 1980, it was offiicially renamed after Milan and Inter star Giuseppe Meazza, but it is still commonly referred to as the San Siro.

It has since undergone several expansions and currently holds a capacity of 80,018.

Monday, September 18, 2017

18 September 1967 - The Man With The Caps For Japan

On 18 September 1967, defender Masami Ihara was born in the Japanese town of Minkuchi. We went on to make a then-record 122 appearances for the men's national team between 1988 and 1999.

Ihara received his first cap at the age of 21 while playing for the University of Tsukuba and made five national team appearances in that first year. Upon graduation, he joined the Nissan Motors team (which later became known as Yokohama Marinos) and remained there until 1999.

In between, he made another 117 national team appearances, including their title-winning run in the 1992 Asian Cup and, in 1998, their first World Cup. His record of 122 remains a record for the men's team, but is second to Homare Sawa, who was capped 186 times for the women's team.

At the club level, Ihara won the J-League with Marinos in 1995, a season in which he was also named the Asian Footballer of the Year.

After one season with Júbilo Iwata (2000) and two with Urawa Red Diamonds (2001-02), Ihara retired and moved into coaching.

His 122 caps remained a team record until October 2012, when he was passed by Yasuhito Endō. Ihara currently sits in second place on the appearances table after Endō's 152 caps. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

17 September 2011 - Better Late Than Never For Swansea

On 17 September 2011, Premier League debutants Swansea City became the final team across the top four divisions of English football to score a goal that season.

Playing in their first-ever Premier League season (and their first one in the top flight since 1983), the Swans had gone scoreless in their first four matches, getting draws with Wigan and Sunderland in between losses to Manchester City and Arsenal.

By the time they hosted West Brom at Liberty Stadium for their fifth match, Swansea were the only team across the Premier League, the Championship, League One, and League Two--a combined 92 teams in all--without a goal to their name.

That changed quickly against West Brom, with Swansea forward Scott Sinclair (pictured) delivering from the penalty spot in the 14th minute. It was the first goal scored by a Welsh team in the English top flight since Swansea's Bob Latchford netted at Old Trafford in May 1983. But they didn't stop there, as Leroy Lita extended Swansea's lead in the 24th minute, then Nathan Dyer added a third in the 49th to cap the 3-0 victory.

Swansea went on to pull a double over West Brom that season en route to an impressive 11th-place finish the final table.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

10 September 2010 - That's Why You've Got To Keep Your Eye On The Ball

On 10 September 2010, FAR Rabat goalkeeper Khalid Askri committed a blunder that made him an instant internet celebrity.

It happened during a Coupe du Trône match against FAR Rabat's Moroccan league rivals, Maghreb Fez. Askri and his counterpart had done well to keep the match scoreless to force a decision by penalty shootout. There, Askri did well to parry a shot by a Maghreb player. After knocking the ball away, he jumped to his feet and faced the stands, pounding his chest. But he failed to notice that, after landing outside the goal, the ball's spin carried it in. The shooter noticed it, however, and brought it to the attention of the referee, who awarded the goal. Maghreb went on to win the shootout, 0-0 (7-6).

Askri's mistake hit YouTube shortly afterward and immediately went viral, with over a million views in the first week. But Askri's notoriety did not end there; just a few days later, an opposing player robbed the ball from his feet inside the box and scored, prompting Askri to storm off the field in a scene that earned him even more YouTube views.

Maghreb, meanwhile, advanced to the Coupe du Trône Final, where they lost to FUS de Rabat.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

9 September 1989 - Taking Invincibility To A Whole New Level

On 9 September 1989, Steaua Bucureşti lost their first domestic match in over three years when rivals Dinamo Bucureşti finally ended their unbeaten streak at an incredible 119 games.

That run stretched back to the first match of the 1986-87 season when Steaua, who already were the defending Divizia A and European Cup champions, beat Argeș Pitești 1-0 on opening day. Led by midfielder Gheorghe Hagi, who had signed for them the previous winter, they went undefeated that season, winning the league with a record of 25 wins and 9 draws. They also won that season's Cupa României, beating Dinamo in the final.

They repeated their undefeated double the next season (including a league record of 30 wins and 4 draws and a belated cup win over Dinamo after Steaua walked out of the final in protest of a decision by the referee to disallow one of their goals), then completed another unbeaten double in the 1988-89 season (with a league record of 31 wins and 3 draws and a third consecutive win over Dinamo in the Cupa României final).

After winning their first two matches of the 1989-90 season, Steaua hosted Dinamo on 9 September, where the visitors proceeded to win 0-3. That result ended Steaua's domestic unbeaten run at a staggering 119 matches, consisting of 113 wins and only 16 draws. It remains the longest recorded streak in the history of the sport.

Friday, September 8, 2017

8 September 1968 - Boca's Big Payback

On 8 September 1968, Boca Juniors ended San Lorenzo's 26-game unbeaten streak, defeating the defending champions 0-1.

San Lorenzo's run started with the last two matches of the 1967 Nacional competition and extended throughout the entire 1968 Metropolitano campaign, which ended with them as champions--the first time in Argentina's history that a team won a national title without a loss (Racing came close in 1966, losing only a single game).

The last contest of the season, a 2-1 victory over Estudiantes in the league final, was their 26th consecutive game unbeaten, matching the streak by Boca Juniors in 1943-44. Coincidentally, San Lorenzo ended that run, beating Boca away, 2-1, so Boca took great pleasure in turning the tables on San Lorenzo with an away win of their own over the title holders in the first game of the 1968 Nacional.

At the time, the record unbeaten run in Argentina was 39, set by Racing from 1965 to 1966, but Boca Juniors went on to beat that in 1998-99, setting the current record at 40.