years had passed since Bulgaria had beaten Sweden until a thrilling 3-2 win revived their Russia 2018 qualification hopes. After a Hristo Bonev-inspired 3-0 victory over Sweden in 1967, Bulgaria had lost 11 and drawn two of the teams’ next 13 encounters, failing to score in almost 12 hours in the fixture – since Hristo Stoichkov’s goal in a 1-1 draw in USA 1994 qualifying – until Thursday.
per cent of New Zealand’s meetings with Solomon Islands have surprisingly ended in 6-1 victories to the former – four of 11 since their first encounter in 1980. The Solomon Islanders’ nemesis Chris Wood hit a hat-trick in their latest to make it 23 overall for the All Whites and jump him two places to third on their list of all-time leading marksmen, behind Shane Smeltz (24) and Vaughan Coveny (28).
years after Costa Rica last won in the USA in FIFA World Cup™ qualifying – Evaristo Coronado hit the only goal in California in 1985 – Los Ticos repeated the sizeable feat. Two goals from San Jose Earthquakes forward Marco Urena earned Oscar Ramirez’s side a 2-0 win that ended the Stars and Stripes’ unbeaten streak under Bruce Arena at 14 – two shy of their all-time record set in 2005.
goals in just six games is what Cristiano Ronaldo has scored to equal the record for goals in a UEFA qualifying campaign for the FIFA World Cup™. Predrag Mijatovic netted the same amount in the France 1998 preliminaries, though seven of them came in Yugoslavia’s playoff humbling of Hungary and it took him 12 appearances overall. Ronaldo’s hat-trick in the 5-1 win over Faroe Island moved him on to 78 goals for Portugal and into joint-fourth on the list of international football’s all-time leading marksmen, behind Ali Daei (109), Ferenc Puskas (84) and Godfrey Chitalu (79).
onsecutive clean sheets in FIFA World Cup™ qualifying is what Iran became the first team from any confederation to record. Despite being at a numerical disadvantage from just after half-time, and playing away to a Korea Republic side in desperate need of victory, Carlos Queiroz’s Team Melli held out for a 0-0 draw that left them having gone an astonishing 18 hours and 28 minutes since conceding in the Russia 2018 preliminaries.
goals in his last five Russia 2018 preliminaries is what Paulinho, a defensive midfielder, has scored – more than Gabriel Jesus, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez have managed in the entire campaign. The 2-0 win on Thursday left Brazil having kept four consecutive clean sheets against Ecuador for the first time.
goals without reply is what Nigeria netted to register their biggest-ever victory over Cameroon, who entered the game having not lost to an African team in 15 competitive outings and having won the CAF Africa Cup of Nations in February. The Indomitable Lions haven’t beaten the Super Eagles since a solitary Francois Omam-Biyik goal in 1989.
goals is what a match between Argentina and Uruguay produced for the first time in 20 years. Since Hernan Crespo, Claudio Lopez, Ariel Ortega and Alvaro Recoba failed to prevent a third straight goalless draw between the Rio de La Plata rivals, their 15 meetings had averaged three goals per game.