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Prodigies, pensioners and poachers

Published: Friday 19 November 2010, 17.05CET
From Belgium teenager Romelu Lukaku to Britain's oldest footballer via a mistimed piece of goal-poaching by Portugal's Nani, takes in the pick of the week's action.
by Simon Hart
Prodigies, pensioners and poachers
Cristiano Ronaldo was fully entitled to be frustrated after Nani's goal-line intervention ©Getty Images features

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Published: Friday 19 November 2010, 17.05CET

Prodigies, pensioners and poachers

From Belgium teenager Romelu Lukaku to Britain's oldest footballer via a mistimed piece of goal-poaching by Portugal's Nani, takes in the pick of the week's action.

Team: Portugal
Portugal inflicted Spain's heaviest defeat since 1963 when they hammered the world and European champions 4-0 in Wednesday's Iberian derby in Lisbon. For the hosts, it was sweet revenge for their last-16 loss to Spain at the FIFA World Cup in June and made it three straight wins for new coach Paulo Bento with ten goals scored. And to think it would have been 5-0 had the offside Nani not got his head to a superb individual effort by Cristiano Ronaldo, more of which later.

Player: Romelu Lukaku (Belgium)
Expect the excitement surrounding Lukaku's potential to rise a notch after the RSC Anderlecht prodigy became the first 17-year-old since Paul Van Himst 50 years ago to score for Belgium when he struck both goals in the Red Devils' friendly victory in Russia. Van Himst, then 17 years and 28 days, was voted Belgium's player of the last century so Lukaku, who was 17 years and 188 days, has certainly picked the right player to emulate.

Goal: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Netherlands)
The straightforward finish that earned the Oranje victory over Turkey in Amsterdam does not merit inclusion for artistic merit but it did maintain Huntelaar's hot scoring streak for the Netherlands. He has registered in five successive national-team outings – compiling nine goals in the process to move on to 25 from 41 internationals, one more than the great Marco van Basten.

Quote: Grzegorz Lato
"I especially like their hair – 40 years ago I had hair like that."
Polish Football Federation (PZPN) president Lato voices his approval of UEFA EURO 2012's as-yet-unnamed mascots after their unveiling in Warsaw.

Number: 205, Franck Ribéry (FC Bayern München)
If at first you don't succeed ... Ribéry's first 204 Bundesliga corners had yielded not a single goal but that all changed when he centred for Mario Gomez to score as Bayern defeated 1. FC Nürnberg last Sunday.

Still going strong: Dickie Borthwick
Sir Alex Ferguson's observation this week that "retirement is for young people" would strike a chord with his fellow Scot, Borthwick, who – seven years the Manchester United FC manager's senior at 75 – is still playing football for Wyke Veterans in Weymouth on England's south coast. He began playing at 12 for Invergordon Academy in the Scottish Highlands and the former Ross County FC midfielder, who has never been sent off, puts his longevity down to the bowl of porridge he eats before each game. "I have lost a bit of speed," added the retired engineer with some justification, "but my thoughts are quick and that really counts."

Feeling faint: Guillaume Hoarau
Brazilian footballers may be well acquainted with the beautiful game but Paris Saint-Germain FC forward Nenê would still not expect to leave a team-mate weak at the knees – yet that is precisely what happened after he equalised in the last minute at FC Lorient last Sunday and striker Hoarau promptly fainted at the side of the pitch. There was a reasonable explanation for Hoarau's light-headedness, however. Club doctor Éric Rolland explained: "Guillaume took a blow to his head in the first half and had a minor problem with his vision. After we took him off, he was recovering on the bench and when he saw the goal he jumped up to celebrate but fainted immediately."

Feeling guilty: Nani
Never mind fainting, Cristiano Ronaldo looked ready to explode when Nani's attempt to help the ball across the line denied the Portugal captain a wonder goal against Spain. Ronaldo had produced probably the week's most spectacular piece of skill with the wonderful dragback that took out Gerard Piqué and his subsequent exquisite chip over Real Madrid CF colleague Iker Casillas. "I touched the ball because I didn't think I was offside. After thinking about it, I apologised to Ronaldo. It was brilliant play and I shouldn't have spoiled it," said Nani afterwards.

Zero to hero: Ciaran Kelly
Sligo Rovers FC goalkeeper Ciaran Kelly had a match to forget in the 2009 FAI Cup final but made amends by saving all four Shamrock Rovers FC penalties in the deciding shoot-out as Sligo prevailed in this season's final in front of over 36,000 fans at the Dublin Arena. "In the 2009 final I gave away a penalty and we lost – I think this makes up for that," said Kelly.

Last updated: 04/01/11 1.46CET