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Neuer and Messi share rostrum with toddler

Published: Friday 29 April 2011, 10.26CET
Sir Alex Ferguson hailed Manuel Neuer but Manchester United FC set a record themselves, while Lionel Messi, FC Vaduz and one-year-old Baerke van der Meij also made headlines.
by Paul Saffer

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Published: Friday 29 April 2011, 10.26CET

Neuer and Messi share rostrum with toddler

Sir Alex Ferguson hailed Manuel Neuer but Manchester United FC set a record themselves, while Lionel Messi, FC Vaduz and one-year-old Baerke van der Meij also made headlines.

Player: Manuel Neuer (FC Schalke 04)
"In my time at United it was probably the finest display of goalkeeping against us. I'm sure there have been other freak performances but tonight I saw a very good player." If it is good enough for Sir Alex Ferguson, then it just about passes muster for Pick of the Week. Schalke custodian Neuer was sensational in keeping out Manchester United FC for 67 minutes in Tuesday's UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg and although the visitors eventually won 2-0, the German international captured just as many headlines as scorers Ryan Giggs or Wayne Rooney.

Team: FC Vaduz
The Liechtensteiner Cup, the Alpine principality's sole major national competition, may lack the profile of the UEFA Champions League but capital club Vaduz's latest final victory, 5-0 against USV Eschen/Mauren on Monday, is worthy of note. It was the Swiss second-tier side's 40th victory in the 66 editions of the competitions, equalling Linfield FC's record tally of national cups (at least until the Belfast club play in the Northern Irish final on 7 May), and it was Vaduz's 14th consecutive success, double the next highest tally anywhere in the world (a mark also set by the club between 1956 and 1962).

Goal: Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)
That Liechtensteiner fact may be news to some of you out there, but Messi's second goal at Real Madrid CF on Wednesday, a mixture of jinky movement and sleight of foot, will probably not be unfamiliar. With a Vaduz-like knack for record-breaking, Messi is now on course to become the first man since Gerd Müller to finish as top scorer in three consecutive years of Europe's premier club competition, his 11-goal total is only one short of Ruud van Nistelrooy's UEFA Champions League seasonal record, and he is now up to 52 overall for 2010/11, 31 of them giving him a lead in the ESM Golden Shoe race.

Number: 0 (Manchester United FC)
United's 2-0 win at Schalke meant they became the first team to go through an entire UEFA Champions League season without conceding an away goal, six games in all. And good news for the Red Devils if they successfully negotiate Wednesday's second leg – under the draw the winners of their semi are officially the away side for the Wembley final.

Quote: William Kvist (FC København)
"For the sake of excitement, it's too early."
Last week FCK clinched their ninth Danish title with a league record seven matches to spare, but captain Kvist wishes they had not been quite so invincible. "It's great to have won it," he added, "but there isn't the same feeling as if we'd won it with one or two games left to play."

Costly victory: Vahid Halilhodžić (NK Dinamo Zagreb)
Also crowned champions with minimal fuss were Dinamo, making it six Croatian titles in a row four games from the end with a 1-0 victory against NK Osijek on Saturday. But coach Halilhodžić was still out of pocket. "I treated my players to a very expensive champagne, which cost me a lot," he said.

Headed winner: Gabriel Torje (FC Dinamo Bucureşti)
It was a good week for teams called Dinamo. The club from the Romanian capital ended a four-year wait to beat traditional rivals FC Steaua Bucureşti on Monday evening, the only goal coming from an unlikely source – the head of 167cm-tall winger Torje, the smallest player on the pitch. The 21-year-old international, who had never struck against Steaua before, said: "In such matches it does not matter how you score. I would have been happy if I would have scored with the hand, like Maradona."

Rising star: Baerke van der Meij (VVV-Venlo)
Van der Meij followed in the footsteps of late grandfather Jan by signing for VVV this week, an impressive decade-long contract. Only thing is, he is only one year of age. Baerke has become an internet sensation after father Jorg posted a video of the toddler chipping three balls into a basket within 20 seconds, and on Tuesday the Dutch club invited the local talent for a training session on Tuesday and promptly handed him the symbolic deal, though the right-footer's best position is yet to be determined. "He has been playing with the ball since he started crawling," his dad explained.

Family values I: Ayew (Olympique de Marseille)
As the Van der Meij clan seem to prove, footballing skill can run through the genes. Look at Marseille's 4-2 win against OGC Nice on Wednesday that took them top of Ligue 1. André Ayew had already scored when his 19-year-old brother Jordan came off the bench to set up his second and then get the third himself. The elder sibling then completed a hat-trick at the Stade Vélodrome, where their father Abedi Pele famously starred, and there is a third brother, Ibrahim, who also plays for Ghana. André said of Jordan: "He had an outstanding game tonight and we're both proud to play for Marseille."

Family values II: AC Milan
On 15 April, Antonio Cassano became the proud father of a son, Christopher, and the next evening scored the second goal in Milan's 3-0 win at UC Sampdoria. Four days later Urby Emanuelson, also a recent dad, claimed a late equaliser as Milan held US Città di Palermo 2-2 in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semi-finals. Then last Saturday it was Robinho's turn, declaring after his winner at Bresia Calcio: "This goal is for my son Gianluca; when Cassano scored against Samp I felt that I would have to do the same once my baby was born." Sadly, the stork will not be visiting Milanello again before the end of the season.

Last updated: 07/12/13 4.19CET

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