World Cup: 28 scorers, 9 penalties, and an Asian first

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GB news 24 desk//

Outlandish free-kicks, missed penalties, and an unprecedented number of shock results have characterised the first round of games at the 2018 World Cup. ESPN brings you all the numbers that have mattered from the first 16 matches in Russia.

There have been 28 different scorers — and four own-goals — that have combined for 38 goals in the first 16 matches. The race for the Golden Boot is led by Cristiano Ronaldo, with three goals and the only hat-trick of the competition. Russia’s Denis Cheryshev, Diego Costa, Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane are the other players with more than one goal. Cheryshev is one of four players – compatriot Lury Gazinksy, Senegal’s Mbaye Niang and Nacho of Spain being the others – who have scored their first international goals in Russia.

There have been seven successful penalty conversions, from a total of nine penalties awarded thus far. The entire group stages (48 games) in 2014 produced just 10 penalties. Lionel Messi and Christian Cueva of Peru are the only players to have failed in their penalty conversions.

It has been a sobering start to a World Cup for two confederations. While four South American teams have failed to win their opening matches for the first time since 1974, four African countries have also lost their opening games for the first time since 2006. Uruguay are the only South American team to have won their opening match in Russia, while in 1974, Brazil where the only CONMEBOL team to draw; Chile, Uruguay and Argentina lost their openers. In 2006, Ivory Coast, Angola, Ghana and Togo all lost their first match, a similar fate that befell Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and Tunisia in 2018.

There have been no come-from-behind wins at the 2018 World Cup in the first 16 games; the 2014 World Cup saw nine such wins from its 64 games played. The last World Cup match to have seen a team win after trailing first is a 2-1 win by Netherlands against Mexico in the round of 16 in Brazil four years ago. There have now been 29 matches since without a similar outcome.

Carlos Sanchez’s red card for Colombia against Japan in the third minute was the second fastest dismissal in World Cup history. Jose Alberto Batista of Uruguay, who was sent off in the first minute against Scotland in 1986 remains the fastest. The first red of the 2018 World Cup came in the 15th match — the longest since 1982, when Czechoslovakia’s Ladislav Vizek was shown the red card in the 32nd match of the tournament against France.

It has taken an Asian team 18 matches to record a World Cup win over a South American team, with Japan beating Colombia 2-1 in 2018. Asia’s record against opponents from CONMEBOL included 14 losses and 3 draws before this. The first meeting between the two confederations came in 1966, when North Korea held Chile 1-1.

Russia’s 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia is second biggest win in an opening match in World Cup history, behind Italy’s 7-1 win over U.S. in 1934. The third biggest in the list is also a host nation win, when Brazil beat Mexico 4-0 in 1950.

Philippe Coutinho became the 78th player to score a World Cup goal for Brazil, a record among all nations. Germany are second in the list with 74 different scorers in World Cups. Preguinho scored Brazil’s first ever World Cup goal in 1930. Ronaldo is Brazil’s all-time leading scorer with 15 World Cup goals, with Pele (12), Jairzinho and Vava (nine each) behind him.

Brazil’s 1-1 draw against Switzerland snapped their sequence of nine World Cup campaigns they have begun with a win. The last time they failed to win the opening game was in 1978 against Sweden. Germany (seven) and Argentina (six) also saw their respective streaks of winning starts to the World Cup snapped.

Belgium won a World Cup game by a three-goal margin for just the second time, with their 3-0 win over Panama equalling a 3-0 result against El Salvador in 1970. Incidentally, both games were World Cup debuts for their CONCACAF opponents, and featured two of only five occasions of a Belgian scoring two goals in a match. Bernard Voorhoof (1934), Leopold Anoul (1954), Wilfried van Moer (1970) and Marc Wilmots (1998) are joined now by Romelu Lukaku as scorers of multiple goals in one game for Belgium, who have no hat-trick yet.

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