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Emphatic wins and milestone appearances

Published: Friday 4 March 2011, 9.30CET
A thumping win for Udinese Calcio, landmark outings for two European stalwarts and a record 20th away game unbeaten in the Spanish Liga make the cut in our review of the week.

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Published: Friday 4 March 2011, 9.30CET

Emphatic wins and milestone appearances

A thumping win for Udinese Calcio, landmark outings for two European stalwarts and a record 20th away game unbeaten in the Spanish Liga make the cut in our review of the week.

Player(s): Georginio Wijnaldum (Feyenoord) & Alexis Sánchez (Udinese Calcio)
Normally given to one individual, this week's award is shared in recognition of both players scoring four times in comprehensive weekend victories for their sides. Wijnaldum, 20, inspired Feyenoord to a 5-1 home win against FC Groningen, while the 22-year-old Sánchez outscored team-mate Antonio Di Natale by one goal in Udinese's thumping 7-0 triumph at US Città di Palermo.

Of the two feats, perhaps Wijnaldum's – which doubled his Eredivisie tally for the campaign – is more noteworthy considering he had been without a goal in 14 outings dating back to late October. Sánchez, meanwhile, became the 12th player in the last 30 years to score a 'poker' in Serie A, joining an illustrious list that features Marco van Basten, Roberto Baggio and Dejan Savićević among others.

Number: 606
The number of league appearances Ryan Giggs has made for Manchester United FC since his debut 20 years ago this week. When the 37-year-old was introduced in the Red Devils' 2-1 loss at Chelsea FC on Tuesday, he equalled the record held by Old Trafford great Sir Bobby Charlton. "Giggs is a phenomenal man," enthused his manager, Sir Alex Ferguson. "He deserves all the accolades because he's an example to the game and to any young player who aspires to get to the top."

Another one-club man, Francesco Totti, also deserves a special mention. The AS Roma talisman opened the scoring as he clocked up 600 games for the Giallorossi against Parma FC on Sunday. Sadly for the 34-year-old, the visitors recovered from 2-0 down to earn a point. "Roma is a huge part of me," said Totti. "It's pity because I wanted to celebrate it [the milestone] with a victory."

Team: Udinese
The Zebrette are the form team of 2011 in Serie A. Unbeaten in 11 matches, including one Coppa Italia tie, Udinese surged to within a point of fourth place after the aforementioned seven-goal success against Palermo – their biggest league win since they put the same number past SSC Napoli in May 1958. Five to the good by half-time, Francesco Guidolin's side had completed the rout by the hour as they condemned Palermo to the worst top-flight home reverse ever. Coincidently, Udinese's last triumph at the Stadio Renzo Barbera had been an emphatic 5-1 on 13 March 2005.

Feat: FC Barcelona
Thanks to their 1-0 win at Valencia CF on Wednesday, Barcelona broke yet another record in the Liga, that of the longest unbeaten sequence away from home. The Blaugrana – whose last league reverse came on 14 February 2010, 2-1 at Club Atlético de Madrid – went one better than Real Sociedad de Fútbol's streak of 19 away games undefeated between 20 May 1979 and 11 May 1980. "It was a huge win for us," defender Gerard Piqué said. "We've struck a really big blow in terms of our title challenge."

Goal: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Not for the first time, the Azulgrana's free-scoring No10 takes the plaudits in this category. His goal in the 2009 UEFA Champions League final aside, Messi is not renowned for his heading ability, but on Saturday he set Barcelona on their way to a 3-0 success at RCD Mallorca with an impudent piece of improvisation.

Following a flurry of passes outside the penalty area between Seydou Keita, the goalscorer and Sergio Busquets, Keita delicately scooped the ball over the home defence for Messi to chase. Chesting it into the air on the bounce and straying ever so slightly away from goal, the 23-year-old kept his cool with Dudu Aouate rushing from his line to delicately nod the ball over the keeper.

Contrasts: Groningen & Heracles Almelo
The adage that form is temporary was never more in evidence than in the Eredivisie last weekend. Having begun February with a 7-1 defeat of Willem II, Groningen ended the month with a 5-1 loss to relegation-threatened Feyenood; Heracles, by contrast, belied a run of one win in eight matches by putting six past Vitesse. Who knows what will happen when the clubs meet on Sunday?

Memory lapse: Alex McLeish (Birmingham City FC)
Amid the euphoria of his Birmingham team beating Arsenal FC 2-1 in the English League Cup final at Wembley, Alex McLeish had to be reminded that the Blues had qualified for the UEFA Europa League as result of winning their first silverware since 1963.

When asked by a reporter how it felt to have led the Midlands outfit into Europe, McLeish – whose three League Cup triumphs in Scotland as Rangers FC manager did not carry a place in continental competition – replied: "Oh yeah, I'd forgotten about that," before adding: "We are so proud to win the cup and get into Europe."

Last updated: 07/12/13 5.57CET

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