It was a beautiful Saturday: so many moments, stories, clips and pictures, it is hard to decide where to begin and what to leave out.
We’ll launch with the video above. Willem II didn’t secure a championship or survived a relegation, but it did win 1:0 over Vitesse, its first league win of the year after 20 matches in the Dutch league.
It was actually WillemÂ II’s first win since March 12th 2010, a period of 27 games over 300 days that included 22 losses (15 this year) and four ties. Here is how the streak ended:
2) What is the survival rate in the English Premier League? Try 24 million pounds, the amount Aston Villa had spent to buy Darren Bent from Sunderland. Two days after arriving to the club,Â Bent scored the only goal in Villa’s win over favorite Manchester City.
Manchester United fans should send Bent a niceÂ bouquet. Twice he had scored the winning goals for his teams against Manchester city, a dramatic equalizer against Arsenal, and two goals against Liverpool.
Speaking of Liverpool: congratulations to Raul MeirelesÂ who proved that there are inspirational players in this club, not named Gerard or Torres.
Congratulations to Kenny Dalglish for his first win as a manager this year, a 3:0 triumph over Wolves, and also congratulations to the line judge Sian Massey for her great work in the first goal.
It is time to ponder with this: Dimitar Berbatov might be the player of the year in England. The Bulgarian international scored another hat trick for Manchester United in the team 5:0 drubbing of Birmingham City. Berbatov had scored 11 goals in the last 7 matches and 17 overall,Â but it is mainly the effort that upgraded his game this year. Take a close look at his effort preceding the third goal by Ryan Giggs.
Another player who scored a hat trick yesterday was Robin Van Persie. The Dutch striker did so despite the fact that he missed a penalty in Arsenal 3:0 convincing win over Wigan.
Kieran Richardson didn’t score a goal in 42 consecutive games dating back to October 2009. Yesterday, he scored two goals in 20 minutes in Sunderland 2:1 win over Blackpool.
Here’s Sam Ashton, the goalkeeper for FC United (the football club that Manchester United fans founded to show their dissatisfaction with the Glazer family), scoring a goal from his own penalty box.
And Finally from England: during a youth game between Chelsea and Arsenal, this lady insisted on sitting in the place assigned to her.
3) The Asia Cup is reaching its final stages, with South Korea playing Japan, and Australia Â playing Uzbekistan in the semifinals.
What it means is that the Arab football has reached one of its lowest points. For the first time since 1972 (a streak of nine tournaments) no Arab team will reach the Asia Cup’s final four, And that is after only one team from the Arab world played in the 2010 World Cup.
South Korea and Iran met for the fifth consecutive tournament in the quarterfinals. This time it was the Koreans turn to celebrate after Yoon Bit-Garam scored the only game of the match at the 105th minute mark.
And Even bigger drama took place in the game between Australia and Iraq where Harry Kewell scored the winner at the 118th minute.
Werder Bremen continued its horrid defense, allowing the opponents 39 goals in 19 matches. Bremen’s defense is so pathetic it makes Adam Matuszczyk look like Leo Messi in Koln’s 3:0 win over Bremen.
Mainz’s coach, Thomas Tuchel, revealed this week that during the team home games his assistants are videotaping the first half, and that he is using the tapes during halftime to manage his troops. But what was good for the beginning of the season, stopped working as Mainz lost 0:1 at home to wolfsburg, the latter first win in the last ten games.
The Bundesliga keeps brining young talent to center stage, this time it is Julian Schieber, 21, who scored the equalizer for Nurnberg against Freiburg:
In the meantime, Bayern Munich is starting to hit on allÂ cylinders, winning an impressive 5:1 over Kaiserslautern with Arjen Robben scoring his first goal since the World Cup, andÂ Mario Gomez scoring a hat trick, making him the league most potent scorer.
Dortmund left some hope to the team chasing it, after losing two points at home with a 1:1 draw against Stuttgart from the bottom of the league.
Youth football: Yesterday marked the last day of the under 17 Africa Cup. The tournament was played in Rwanda Â where 17 years ago, around the time where all players in this tournament were born, a genocide took place. 800,000 citizen, 20 percent of Rwanda’s population was killed during the 4-year war.
TheÂ Rwandan team participated in the tournament for the first time, and despite their nickname Junior Wasps, and the fact that it has united the country (some even suggested that the team brought peace to the country), no one gave it a real chance in the games.
But the Rwandan surprised even themselves by playing a great tournament and reaching the final. In the final, Rwanda faced Burkina Faso, a team it had defeated 2:1 in the opening game. In the final, however, theÂ Youth Stallions broke the hearts of 35,000 fans after defeating Rwanda 2:1.
Neymar, Brazil young and exciting superstar, justified his nickname ‘Neymaradona’ by scoring five goals in the first two games. The 18-year-old scored all goals for Brazil in the 4:2 win over Paraguay, including this beauty:
Neymar added another goal in Brazil’s 3:1 win over Columbia (it is in the 3:20 minutes mark of the clip), in a game that featured a new Brazilian diamond, Casemiro, an 18-year-old from Sao Paulo.
6) Everyone knows about Leo Messi amazing goal scoring (19 league goals so far), but a more telling stat is Messi’s 16 assists. That means that Messi was directly involved in 35 of Barcelona’s goals in the first 20 matches (more than 50 percent of the team’s goals).
Yesterday, Messi scored a penalty kick and contributed one assist in Barcelona’s 3:0 win over Racing Santander. But it was Pedro’s assist to Andres Iniesta that had provided the game’s highlight:
Still in Spain, Sevilla’s Luis Fabiano scored a hat trick in the 4:1 win over Levante including this stunning header:
The next game to game from Spain was Valencia’s 4:3 win over 9 men Malaga, a game that included everything but nice goals.
7) The game of the year was played yesterday in Cyprus between Omonia Nicosia and Apoel Nicosia. Apoel won 1:0 at the defending champion’s home turf, taking a seven-point lead at the top of the table. (The winning goal is at the 1:40 mark of the clip, and one of the greatest misses of the year is at the 3:30 minute mark).
8) Back to South America. Look how a friendly game looks like in Argentine:
The first Super Classico of 2011 was played as part of theÂ Copa Luis Nofal. Boca Juniors defeated River Plate 2:0. One of the goals was scored by theÂ legendary Martin ‘El Loco’ Palermo, the match best player:
Still in Argentine: Diego Maradona and Carlos Valderama Participated in the annual charity games sponsored by Maradona.
Argentine and Columbia finished in a 5:5 tie, with each of the superstars scoring a goal, but the most beautiful goal was scored by Victor Aristizabal:
9) We’ll end with this funny story.
Botafogo’s Somalia was late for a practice, and since the club had announced that it will fine a player who will be late 40 percent of his salary, Somalia had decided to call the club and announce that he was robbed and kidnapped under a gun threat by Â a gang.
Somalia whose real name isÂ Paulo Rogerio Reis Silva kept the story juicy by claiming that he was riding for the gang for two hours around Rio de Janeiro, and was forced to withdraw money from his account at several ATM’s.
Somalia even reported the incident to the police, but a close circuit video cameras documented Somalia at his house, recovering from a party the night before.
At the press conference following the incident, Somalia cried as asked forÂ forgiveness from the club and its fans. He was fined, and only his clean past and his statues as a player helped him to escape a six-month imprisonment.Â .
LastÂ Wednesday, in the first game of the Rio State Championship, Botafogo defeated minnows Duque de Caxias 2:1, thanks to two penalty kicks. Sebastian Abreu who shoots the penalty kicks for the team regularly, gave the penalty to Somalia. With the second kick Abreu took no chances and scored the winning goal himself.