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Messi and Ribéry take top billing

Published: Friday 9 April 2010, 14.20CET
Lionel Messi is "in a class of his own" while an imaginative birthday present for Franck Ribéry and a half-time trip to the pub also make the cut in's review of the week.
Messi and Ribéry take top billing
Bayern president Uli Hoeness presents Franck Ribéry with a cake on his 27th birthday ©Getty Images features

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Published: Friday 9 April 2010, 14.20CET

Messi and Ribéry take top billing

Lionel Messi is "in a class of his own" while an imaginative birthday present for Franck Ribéry and a half-time trip to the pub also make the cut in's review of the week.

Player: Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)
The easiest choice of the week. Having been held 2-2 by Arsenal FC in London before falling 1-0 behind in the second leg, Barça had every reason to be fearful of a UEFA Champions League quarter-final exit. They need not have worried as Messi stepped up to become only the sixth player in UEFA Champions League history to score four goals in one game and inspire the Spanish titleholders to a 6-3 aggregate triumph. The Argentinian has now struck 15 times in his last nine games.

Game: Manchester United FC 3-2 FC Bayern München
Although the home support went away disappointed, they could scarcely complain about the nature of a typically compelling and dramatic night of European football at Old Trafford. Trailing 2-1 from the first leg, United needed a fast start; they produced one of positively express proportions. Leading 2-0 inside seven minutes and three up before half-time, the tie looked set fair in their favour. The tide turned either side of the break, however, Ivica Olić's goal and Rafael's dismissal handing the impetus to Bayern. Arjen Robben struck the vital blow 16 minutes from time.

Goal: Arjen Robben (Bayern)
And what a blow it was. The Netherlands winger does not do decisive goals by halves. It was his rocket of a shot that salvaged an away-goals triumph against ACF Fiorentina in the first knockout round and his last-minute stunning run and finish that saw off FC Schalke 04 in the German Cup semi-final on 24 March. Robben added to his ever-bulging collection on Wednesday with a volley against United that owed as much to imagination as it did to technique, precision and poise.

Save: Hugo Lloris (Olympique Lyonnais)
There was no doubt in the minds of the FC Girondins de Bordeaux players why Olympique Lyonnais and not the French champions will meet Bayern in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League. "The outcome hinged on the display of a great, world-class keeper," Bordeaux left-back Benoît Trémoulinas told "We created chances, but Hugo Lloris was always there." Lloris was brilliant over both legs but he saved his best for last, somehow clawing the ball out when Wendel's 87th-minute header looked destined to send Bordeaux through.

Quote: Xavi Hernández (Barcelona)
"Leo is on another level from every other player in the world."
Messi's team-mate provides the most succinct and accurate summation of the praise coming the way of the 22-year-old in recent days and weeks.

Birthday present: Franck Ribéry (Bayern)
The French international was in characteristically menacing form at Old Trafford as he celebrated his recent 27th birthday with qualification for the UEFA Champions League semi-finals. Bayern, however, had a further gift up their sleeves. As well as the traditional cake, Ribéry was presented with a commemorative pen which was as practical as it was thoughtful, club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge explaining: "We hope he can use it to sign a new contract."

Quick off the mark: Bobby Zamora (Fulham FC)
Bobby Zamora scored after just 21 seconds away to VfL Wolsfburg to put Fulham FC in command of their UEFA Europa League quarter-final, firing low past Diego Benaglio after a brilliant flick took him past Jan Šimůnek. The goal, his sixth of the campaign, was enough to earn Roy Hodgson's side a 3-1 aggregate victory and a semi-final against Hamburger SV who had their own magic moment to celebrate thanks to Mladen Petrić's sensational overhead kick in victory over R. Standard de Liège.

91 telephone messages received by Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas within ten minutes of the club qualifying for the semi-finals for the first time. "I'll have the night to read these," he said.
years since four different nations were represented in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals. The last-four contenders in 2003/04 were AS Monaco FC, Chelsea FC, FC Porto and RC Deportivo La Coruña.
games in 2010 in which Messi has struck three goals or more.

Miraculous recovery: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United FC)
The in-form England striker limped off in Munich on 30 March and was swiftly ruled out for two to three weeks with ankle ligament damage. Rooney's absence soon looked likely to fall on the shorter side of that initial prognosis, but Sir Alex Ferguson insisted the 24-year-old had "no chance" of being available for the second leg against Bayern just eight days after picking up the injury. Rooney started and United jumped to a 3-0 lead. He lasted 55 minutes but Bayern would have the last laugh.

Half-time walkout: Kevin McDonald (Burnley FC)
Since winning half of their first eight Premier League fixtures, Burnley's form has gone from bad to worse. They have triumphed just once in the league since October and are firmly encamped in the bottom three. Their lowest ebb came on Sunday when top-four chasing Manchester City FC took a 4-0 lead inside 20 minutes and were five to the good by half-time. McDonald was substituted at the break and decided enough was enough. The 21-year-old Scottish midfielder left Turf Moor and, according to newspaper reports, went to the nearest pub for the second half, watching on as his side eventually fell to a 6-1 defeat. He has since been fined by his club and admitted his actions were "naive, disrespectful and totally wrong".

Last updated: 09/04/10 17.12CET

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