Team: Wigan Athletic FC
From ecstasy to agony in days. Wigan have carved out a reputation as Premier League survival specialists in recent years. This season, they hit the headlines for a different reason, defying the odds to defeat mighty Manchester City FC in last weekend's FA Cup final. Never mind that relegation was confirmed three days later – 11 May 2013 will live far longer in the memory than a 4-1 defeat at Arsenal FC. For a club hailing from a rugby-mad town of around 80,000 people, and in the doldrums less than 20 years ago, this was a truly remarkable achievement.
"You dream of playing at Wembley and winning," said manager Roberto Martínez. "The underdogs played with incredible bravery and belief and fought the odds again. That's the FA Cup."
Player: Frank Lampard (Chelsea FC)
With the clock ticking down at Villa Park last Saturday, the moment Frank Lampard had been waiting for arrived. Having equalised for the visitors against Aston Villa FC with the kind of finish that has been a hallmark of his career – an unerring shot from the edge of the box – he walked on to Eden Hazard's cut-back to register his 203rd strike for the Blues, surpassing Bobby Tambling as the west London club's all-time top scorer. Some feat for a midfielder.
That was just the start of a remarkable five days for the 34-year-old, who captained Chelsea to victory in the UEFA Europa League final on Wednesday and, less than 24 hours later, ended speculation about his future by signing a one-year contract extension. "I'm absolutely delighted," he said. "Everybody knows I always maintained the dream was to stay at Chelsea."
Goal: Saber Khelifa (Évian Thonon Gaillard FC)
Khelifa set tongues wagging in Ligue 1 last weekend with the stunning second goal in Évian's 4-0 win against UEFA Champions League chasers OGC Nice, a strike reminiscent of David Beckham's famous long-range effort at Wimbledon FC in September 1996.
As the ball dropped to him from a cleared corner, the Tunisia forward intelligently span past marker Grégoire Puel, son of Nice coach Claude, took a touch on his thigh and arced an audacious shot over a helpless David Ospina. All from ten metres inside his own half.
"It's the dream goal for every football player," the Tunisian said. "I saw the goalkeeper moving off his line on several occasions during the game and I was keen to try my luck. I'm just happy it worked as I missed a clear chance earlier in the game."
Tuesday's UEFA European Under-17 Championship semi-final between Russia and Sweden ended goalless after the regulation 80 minutes – but the net would not stop bulging during the shoot-out. After goalkeepers Sixten Mohlin and Anton Mitryushkin both converted, the score after 20 spot kicks was 9-9 and, with Sweden down to ten men, players were asked to take second kicks. Isak Ssewankambo, who had opened the shoot-out by scoring, now cleared the crossbar and Russia's Ramil Sheydaev made no mistake with the 22nd kick to earn a place in the final against Italy.
"I did not expect to be here, but that is how things turned out," Sheydaev, who was only called into the squad after the group stage as emergency injury cover, told UEFA.com. Russia won their only previous U17 final in 2006, beating the Czech Republic in the decider – on penalties.
"I am only 10% kit man, 90% comedian."
Part of the Italian delegation at the UEFA European Under-17 Championship in Slovakia, genial kit man Alvaro Annessa redefines the role he has enjoyed for the last 38 years. Read more about him.
The end of an era
Never has retirement been so in vogue. After Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to bring down the curtain on an extraordinary career, midfielder Paul Scholes swiftly followed suit. This week, Rio Ferdinand bid farewell to international football and, not to be outdone, former England captain David Beckham called time on an iconic career, that began more than 20 years ago. "Nothing will ever completely replace playing the game I love," said the 38-year-old.
FC Schalke 04 defender Christoph Metzelder will also hang up his boots this summer, while Jamie Carragher plays his final game for Liverpool FC against Queens Park Rangers FC at Anfield on Sunday having served the Merseyside club since 1996.
Double vision: Birkirkara FC
A week after Birkirkara's women's team captured the Maltese championship with a last-minute goal on the final day of the season, the men's side claimed their fourth Premier League title in a winner-takes-all showdown against Hibernians FC. The clubs finished the campaign level at the summit and with goal difference meaning nothing, for the first time in 41 years the title race went to a 'cup final' decider at Ta' Qali National Stadium. Birkirkara were up against it at half-time, trailing to Clayton Failla's penalty, but they stormed back in the second period to run out 3-1 victors.
"Our overall unity is the strength of this team," said coach Paul Zammit. "We cried together; we laughed together. When you put all these ingredients into one pot it is always going to turn out as a success."
Late blows: SL Benfica
Benfica headed into last weekend's fixture against FC Porto as the unbeaten Portuguese Liga leaders and eyeing the treble. However, an added-time loss meant the Eagles slipped two points behind their rivals with a single game remaining. Chelsea repeated the trick on Wednesday, Branislav Ivanović’s 93rd-minute header condemning Benfica to defeat in the UEFA Europa League final. With the Portuguese Cup decider still to come, Benfica will be hoping bad luck does not always come in threes.
"For the second time in five days we conceded the decisive goal in injury time," said coach Jorge Jesus on Wednesday night. "Once again the players felt they didn't deserve to lose. At the end they felt they'd been gunned down."
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