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Fast starts and fluffed lines

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fast starts and fluffed lines
( Wednesday 18 August 2010

Headline-making hat-tricks from Didier Drogba and Paul Hartley and shock results for Benfica, Sporting and Boca Juniors feature in’s latest statistical review, with Sevilla’s Frederic Kanoute also in focus.

goals in their last three home matches – an average of seven per game – is the incredible tally that Chelsea’s 6-0 win over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday helped to establish. The English champions ended last season in sparkling home form with 7-0 and 8-0 victories over Stoke City and Wigan Athletic respectively, and this latest Stamford Bridge drubbing represents the biggest-ever opening day win in Premier League history. Didier Drogba was the Baggies’ tormentor-in-chief with a hat-trick that took him on to 134 Chelsea goals, beyond the legendary Jimmy Greaves into sixth place in the club’s list of all-time leading marksmen. Frank Lampard was also on target and has now scored six Premier League goals in opening-weekend fixtures, a tally that only Alan Shearer (8) and Teddy Sheringham (7) can better.

opening-day matches without a win for Academica and 14 consecutive home victories for Benfica: these were the statistics that greeted the visitors at the Estadio da Luz on Day 1 of the Portuguese Liga season. Ninety minutes later, however, the Coimbra outfit were celebrating a famous triumph, secured in dramatic fashion when a glorious 35-yard curler from Laionel in the final minute of injury time secured a 2-1 win for the ten-man underdogs. Benfica’s city rivals, Sporting, fared no better, going down 1-0 to Pacos de Ferreira in their first opening-day defeat in 15 years. Porto, on the other hand, did start with a victory, and their rivals may be perturbed to know that Os Dragões have claimed the title in each of the last five seasons in which they have won their opening fixture.

wins from their last ten matches at the Bombonera is the disappointing return that has seen Boca Juniors claim just 46 per cent of available points in their home stadium this year. The legendary arena, renowned for its intimidating atmosphere, has often been a fortress, with Boca’s point ratio standing at 85 per cent in 2008. However, Los Xeneizes’ subsequent slide is reflected in a rate of 52 per cent in 2009 and a further drop this year. Indeed, with two games played in the current Apertura – and the fortunes of old rivals River Plate finally reviving – Boca are languishing in the bottom half of the table having taken just one point from six.

goals, all from the penalty spot, provided Paul Hartley with a dream Aberdeen debut. The veteran Scotland midfielder, who was immediately made captain at Pittodrie following his close-season arrival, joined the club with only one goal to his name in 2010. However, by dispatching all three spot kicks in a 4-0 opening day win over Hamilton Academical, Hartley became the only player in the history of the Scottish Premier League to score a hat-trick of penalties. The former Celtic and Hearts stalwart also became the first Aberdeen player in 104 years – since Augustus Lowe in 1904 – to mark his debut with a treble.

goals against Barcelona in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup final left Frederic Kanoute on 107 for Sevilla and continued his climb up the club’s scoring charts. The Malian’s double in a 3-1 win over the champions left him 32 goals short of Pato Araujo, who sits second in Los Rojiblancos’ all-time standings on 139. Juan Arza, who scored 182 times for the club during 1940s and ‘50s, is their all-time leading scorer, and Kanoute – who last year surpassed Davor Suker as Sevilla’s best-ever foreign marksman - may find that tally a little tougher to match. A more pressing concern for the former African Footballer of the Year, however, will be denying Barça a record eighth Super Cup when the teams resume hostilies on Saturday.

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