Wednesday, August 16, 2017

16 August 1981 - The Sumner Sets On Fiji

On 16 August 1981, New Zealand notched their record victory, beating Fiji 13-0 in a World Cup qualifier. It is also Fiji's record loss.

The All Whites were looking to reach their first World Cup, having not entered the competition from 1930 through 1966, then not qualifying for the 1970, 1974, and 1978 tournaments. They started their campaign for Spain '82 in April 1981 by drawing 3-3 with Australia, then beating Fiji away 0-4.

By mid-August, they were at the top of the table in their qualifying group, three points clear of Australia, who had two games left to play. New Zealand's last match was in Auckland against Fiji, who had just lost to Australia 10-0. 

New Zealand wasted no time in taking the lead, going up 3-0 in the first nine minutes with goals from striker Steve Wooddin (2'), midfielder and captain Steve Sumner (pictured) (8'), and midfielder Grant Turner (9'). By the break, additional goals from Sumner (45') and Turner (31'), plus strikes from Duncan Cole (36') and Brian Turner (40') put the hosts up 7-0.

Sumner then ran rampant in the second half, scoring four more times (55', 60', 72', 86') to take his tally on the day to six, a national team record. The other two goals were added by Keith Mackay (48') and Brian Turner (85') to reach 13.

The result secured qualification for New Zealand and sent them to Spain, where they unfortunately finished last in their first round group with losses to Brazil, Scotland, and the Soviet Union.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

15 August 2011 - It's Not the "English" Premier League Anymore

On 15 August 2011, Swansea City became the first non-English side to play in the Premier League when they visited Manchester City on the season's opening day.

Despite being based in Wales, Swansea have played in the English league system since their founding in 1912. From 1981 to 1983, they played in the English top flight, following in the footsteps of fellow Welsh side Cardiff City, who spent three different spells in the First Division from 1921-29, 1952-57, and 1960-62. But no club from outside England had reached the top flight since the formation of the Premier League in 1992.

That changed in 2011, as Swansea finished the 2010-11 Championship season in third place, then beat Nottingham Forest and Reading in the promotion play-offs. Their reward was an opening day date at title challengers Manchester City.

Swansea held their own for the first half, playing an attractive passing game that allowed them to control possession and go into the break with a scoreless draw. But Manchester City exploded in the second half, getting goals from Edin Džeko (57'), Sergio Agüero (68', 90'+1), and David Silva (71') to finish the day as 4-0 winners.

While Manchester City went on to win the league title that year, Swansea rallied and finished in an impressive 11th place, the highest of that season's newly-promoted teams.

Monday, August 14, 2017

14 August 1971 - Keegan Gets Off To A Flying Start

On 14 August 1971, 20-year old Kevin Keegan debuted for Liverpool, scoring in a 3-1 win over Nottingham Forest. He went on to score a total of 100 goals for them over six seasons, winning three league titles, an FA Cup, and the European Cup.

Keegan started his professional career with Fourth Division Scunthorpe in 1968 and made 141 appearances there before moving to Liverpool in the summer of 1971 for a transfer fee of £35,000. Initially a midfielder, his scoring ability prompted manager Bill Shankly to move him to forward.

He made 42 appearances for Liverpool across all competitions that first season, scoring a total of 11 goals as the Reds finished third in the league table. He doubled that tally the next season, winning his first league title and the UEFA Cup. Although that was his most prolific scoring season at Anfield, he won the FA Cup in 1974, then won a league and UEFA Cup double in 1976, followed by another league title and the European Cup in 1977. 

In the summer of 1977, after making 323 appearances, he moved to Hamburg for a fee of £500,000.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

13 August 1966 - Gemmill's First History-Making Moment

On 13 August 1966, St. Mirren midfielder Archie Gemmill became the first substitute in Scotland.

The use of substitutes in football dates back to the 1860s, but as the rules became codified, they became disfavored and disallowed. By the 1950s, however, people began reintroducing them, with FIFA allowing them in qualification matches for the 1954 World Cup.

England and Scotland slowly began to reconsider the rule, with England adopting the use of a single substitute per team starting with the 1965-66 season, but even then only to replace an injured player. One year later, Scotland applied an identical rule.

Gemmill, then just 19 years old and two years into his career with St. Mirren, was the first player in Scotland to come on as a substitute, replacing an injured Jim Clunie after 23 minutes in a Scottish League Cup match against Clyde. Unfortunately for Gemmill and St. Mirren, it was a milestone made in a losing effort, as they fell to Clyde 1-0.

Gemmill went on to enjoy a lengthy career in Scotland and England (and a brief spell in the United States) that lasted until his retirement in 1984. He also earned 43 caps for Scotland, for whom he scored one of the World Cup's most memorable goals in a 1978 match against the Netherlands.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

12 August 1964 - A Small Degree Of Separation Is Enough

On 12 August 1964, Independiente won the first of their record seven Copa Libertadores titles, beating Nacional on points.

It was the fifth edition of the tournament and the first appearance in the final for both teams. They each won their first-round group with identical records of three wins and a draw to advance to the semifinals. There, Independiente topped two-time defending champions Santos by winning both legs, while Nacional did the same to Colo-Colo.

The final was played over two legs, home and away, with the champion determined by points. The teams met at the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo for the first leg on 6 August, where they split the points by playing to a scoreless draw, then reconvened six days later at the Estadio de Independiente for the second leg.

The second leg was another close affair, with the teams separated only by a 35th-minute goal from Independiente's Mario Rodríguez, but it was enough for the hosts to claim the trophy.

Independiente repeated as champion in 1965, then proceeded to win it again in 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, and 1984. Nacional finally won it in 1971, then again in 1980 and 1988.

Friday, August 11, 2017

11 August 1984 - Les Bleus Claim L'Or

On 11 August 1984, France and Brazil reached the first Olympic final for both teams, with France winning 2-0.

France had enjoyed more success in previous tournaments, claiming the silver medal in 1900 (albeit as one of only three participating teams). In 1908, France actually entered two teams, with one reaching the semifinals. An additional semifinal appearance followed in 1920, then they reached the quarterfinals in 1924, 1948, 1968, and 1976.

Brazil, on the other hand, did not participate in the Olympics until 1952. Though they made it to the quarterfinals that year, they suffered first-round exits in the next four tournaments. In 1976, they reached the quarterfinals again, losing to the Soviet Union.

Both teams missed the 1980 tournament in Moscow and showed up in 1984 eager to claim a medal. Brazil breezed through the group stage, winning all three of their games, then advanced to the final with victories over Canada (on penalties) and Italy (after extra time). France, meanwhile, topped their own group despite winning only one of the matches, then advanced over Egypt and Yugoslavia (on penalties).

Playing before a crowd of 101,799 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, the teams finished the first half at 0-0, but that scoreline did not last much longer. In the 55th minute, Lens striker François Brisson put France up 1-0, then his fellow striker, Daniel Xuereb (pictured)--who also played for Lens--doubled the lead five minutes later. It was Xuereb's fifth goal of the tournament, tying him with two other players for top-scorer honors.

It was the last appearance in the final for France, but Brazil returned in 1988, 2012, and 2016, winning the latter.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

10 August 2010 - The Kid Just Might Have A Future

On 10 August 2010, Neymar made his Brazil debut--and scored his first international goal--in a 2-0 win over the United States.

The 18-year old striker had risen to prominence for Santos since signing with them in 2009 and had already made three appearances for Brazil's U-17 team. His performances there led to a loud public outcry for his inclusion in Brazil's squad for the 2010 World Cup, including strong support from Brazilina legend Pelé, but manager Dunga chose not select him, claiming he was still too inexperienced.

Brazil replaced Dunga with Mano Menezes on 24 July 2010 and, two days later, the new coach included Neymar in his first squad, picked to face the United States in a friendly. The teams met in New Jersey, with Neymar starting for Brazil.

He did not take long to make an impact. In just the 29th minute, he got onto the end of a cross from André Santos and headed it past US keeper Tim Howard. His teammate Pato doubled the lead right before the break and the day ended as a 2-0 victory for Brazil.

Since then, Neymar has become a star for the national team, scoring 52 goals in 77 appearances and winning the Olympic gold medal in 2016.