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Levante, Lennon and El Alagui's lucky coin

Published: Friday 28 October 2011, 9.45CET
Our weekly pick pays tribute to table-topping Levante UD, AC Milan's merry band of hat-trick scoring midfielders and discovers how, in Scotland, money can buy you luck.
by Richard Aikman

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Published: Friday 28 October 2011, 9.45CET

Levante, Lennon and El Alagui's lucky coin

Our weekly pick pays tribute to table-topping Levante UD, AC Milan's merry band of hat-trick scoring midfielders and discovers how, in Scotland, money can buy you luck.

Team: Levante UD
After stunning Manchester United FC 6-1 at the weekend and then hitting a further five goals past Wolverhampton Wanderers FC in the English League Cup, Manchester City FC would ordinarily walk away with UEFA.com's team of the week gong, but not when Levante continue to leave Spain's big two in their Liga slipstream. An added-time free-kick by Rubén Suárez earned Juan Ignacio Martínez's surprise frontrunners a seventh successive league victory on Wednesday, at the expense of Real Sociedad de Fútbol, to restore their place at the top of league standings. Levante, who lead Real Madrid CF by a point and FC Barcelona by two, will aim to extend their winning sequence to eight at CA Osasuna at the weekend.

Player: Kevin-Prince Boateng (AC Milan)
Before Sunday, Kevin-Prince Boateng had never scored more than three league goals in a single season, so to come off the bench in the second half and score a 15-minute hat-trick that helped AC Milan come from 3-0 down to beat US Lecce 4-3, was no mean feat. Three days later the Rossoneri were at it again, scoring four goals against Parma FC, with yet another midfielder hitting a treble. "It usually takes a whole season for me to score three goals," said Antonio Nocerino, whose goals helped Milan seal a 4-1 won. "I still can't understand what I have done. I'm Milan's leading goalscorer at the moment but I don't think that will last long." Mark van Bommel has yet to score since joining the club; what price the Dutchman becoming the next Milan midfielder to take the match ball home?

Goal: Luis Suárez (Liverpool FC)
Luis Suárez has made a noticeable impact at Anfield since signing from AFC Ajax in January, scoring eight times in 22 Premier League appearances. This week it was the English League Cup that provided the stage for his considerable goalscoring talents, as the Uruguayan international scored twice in a comeback win against Stoke City FC. It was his first goal that really caught the eye; receiving the ball on the left, Suárez cut inside, nutmegged defender Ryan Shotton and curled a right-footed 22-metre effort that left goalkeeper Thomas Sørensen no chance.

Quote: Neil Lennon (Celtic FC)
James Forrest fired Celtic FC into the Scottish League Cup semi-finals with a quick-fire double in their 4-1 win against Hibernian FC, but only after manager Neil Lennon ordered him to swap his footwear at half-time. "I told Forrest to change his boots," said Lennon. "He had these white moulded boots on and he kept hitting the first man and stumbling over the ball. He had been dithering and hesitant, but in the second half he was anything but. He set the tone for the second half immediately. He was magnificent."

Number: 9
ADO Den Haag's Tjaronn Chery came within a whisker of breaking a 29-year Eredivisie record on 16 October. The striker took just nine seconds to silence the crowd at the Parkstad Limburg Stadion with the opening goal against Roda JC. Chery's effort was just one second shy of the all-time record for the fastest goal in the Dutch top flight, which was scored by Koos Waslander, for NAC Breda against PEC Zwolle, on 20 March 1982. Though he fell short of the all-time Dutch record, the 23-year-old is in esteemed company, his lightning strike equalling the time it took Ajax legend Johan Cruyff to breach Telstar's defence on 21 November 1971. Unfortunately for Chery, his side were not so sharp at defending their early lead, ADO going down 4-1.

Recipe for success
Anas Sharbini is one HNK Hajduk Split's most promising players, but when he isn't cooking up ways to get past opposing midfielders, he is mixing it up in the kitchen. "I adore cooking," says the 24-year-old. "I know how to cook everything, from the easy stuff to more complicated recipes. I cook for my family, friends and my girlfriend. I have given her a few lessons, and talk about cooking with Hajduk Split's chef all the time. My specialty is paprika (green pepper) filled with minced meat."

Rapid revenge
If revenge is a dish best served cold, someone forgot to tell FCO Dijon. The newly promoted Ligue 1 side were defeated 2-0 by Paris Saint-Germain FC at the weekend and it seemed that a similar result was on the cards when the two sides reconvened three days later for their French League Cup round of 16 encounter. But the Burgundy outfit recovered from their two-goal deficit to knock out Antoine Koumbaré's side 3-2 as penalties by former PSG player Younousse Sankharé and Brice Jovial sandwiched Florin Bérenguer's strike. "It's a reward for the players," said Dijon coach Patrice Carteron. "I told [PSG captain] Mamadou Sakho that we would get our revenge at home and we did."

Lucky coin
It was the Beatles who once claimed that money can't buy you love, but it would appear that it can buy you luck. Falkirk FC striker Farid El Alagui scored against Dundee United FC in the Scottish League Cup quarter-final in midweek after helping sink Rangers FC in the previous round, and it is all thanks to a lucky £1 coin he found earlier in the season.

"We were doing a warm-up at our training ground before a bounce game and Farid found a coin lying on the grass," explained Falkirk coach Lee Bullen. "He picked up the coin and handed it to me but I told him to keep it as it might bring him good luck. Farid's French and didn't know it was lucky to find a coin so he told me to keep it for him and I stuck it in my pocket. He scored during the game and came running in my direction, so I pulled the coin out of my pocket and he kissed it. Now it's a ritual for every game and it certainly seems to be working as he's kissed it 14 times this season."

Last updated: 06/12/13 7.14CET

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