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Ajax and Touré make the week's headlines

Published: Friday 4 November 2011, 10.13CET
AFC Ajax and Yaya Touré have captured the limelight this week as, unusually, has Lionel Messi while a lion has lorded it over a wolf and Galway United FC are celebrating a rare victory.
by Paul Saffer

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Published: Friday 4 November 2011, 10.13CET

Ajax and Touré make the week's headlines

AFC Ajax and Yaya Touré have captured the limelight this week as, unusually, has Lionel Messi while a lion has lorded it over a wolf and Galway United FC are celebrating a rare victory.

Team: AFC Ajax
Ajax's UEFA Champions League triumph in 1995, let alone their three European titles in the 70s, has seemed rather distant of late – they have not even made it past the group stage since 2005/06 and when they won the Eredivisie last season it was their first league title for seven years. However, Wednesday's sumptuous 4-0 defeat of GNK Dinamo Zagreb not only left Ajax knowing that a score draw at Olympique Lyonnais on 22 November would secure progress, but was an attacking display worthy of their heyday. All the goals were excellent but the highlight was the opener, Christian Eriksen's back-heel taking out two defenders and setting up Gregory van der Wiel for a fine finish. "The way we played is how I like to see my team play," said Frank de Boer.

Player: Yaya Touré (Manchester City FC)
Midfielder Touré managed only six goals in 117 FC Barcelona appearances but after striking twice in the 3-0 victory at Villarreal CF on Wednesday he has now more than doubled that tally in around half the number of games for City. Both were fine strikes, particularly a brilliant burst between two defenders and subtle finish for the second, and it is all down to Roberto Mancini. "The reason I got those goals was that the coach told me I could push further forward and go looking for chances," Touré told UEFA.com.

Goal: Andrew Johnson (Fulham FC)
Johnson has had a frustrating time with injuries since joining Fulham in 2008 but this season is on sparkling form and on Thursday struck twice in the 4-1 UEFA Europa League defeat of Wisła Kraków to take his group tally to five goals, not to mention three in qualifying. But it was the quality of the goals that stood out – his second was from a tight angle after a clever free-kick move but the other, that made it 2-1, was the real corker, twisting to volley in a Danny Murphy cross off the post with such venom that there was a definite pause between the ball hitting the net and the crowd realising it was in. "Probably as clean a strike as I've hit in my career," was Johnson's reaction.

Quote: Luciano Spalletti (FC Zenit St Peterburg)
"I know Lucescu, he's an old football wolf, noble and wise, but look at our logo – there is a lion. Now we will see who is stronger: a lion or a wolf."
The Zenit coach warms up for Tuesday's visit of Mircea Lucescu's FC Shakhtar Donetsk, a game the lion won 1-0.

Number: 200 (Lionel Messi & Josep Guardiola)
It was a run of the mill week in the life of Messi – a hat-trick in the space of 19 minutes in Saturday's 5-0 defeat of RCD Mallorca then three more goals on Tuesday to beat FK Viktoria Plzeň 4-0 and take FC Barcelona into the UEFA Champions League round of 16. The first of his three in midweek was Messi's 200th goal for Barcelona, oddly enough on the night Josep Guardiola brought up that number of games as coach. "It is a really good night," Messi told UEFA.com while Guardiola added: "I am convinced he will beat César Rodríguez's club record [of 235]."

Hat-trick: Kevin De Bruyne (KRC Genk)
Sorry Leo, but neither of your trebles was our favourite this week (though if any Club Brugge KV fans are reading, they were really). Unlike Messi, De Bruyne had never scored a senior hat-trick before Saturday, when having struck after 67 seconds at Club Brugge, he scored again in the 77th and 85th minute to seal a sensational 5-4 win in a game his side had trailed 4-2. "The first hat-trick in my career, that is something special," said the 20-year-old playmaker, reportedly a target for Chelsea FC – who Genk went on to hold 1-1 on Tuesday, De Bruyne starting the move that led to Jelle Vossen's equaliser.

Press room: Municipal Stadium Wroclaw
The UEFA EURO 2012 arena staged its first competition game last Friday night with home club WKS Śląsk Wroclaw beating KS Lechia Gdańsk 1-0 in front of an Ekstraklasa record crowd of 42,771. That is more than the population of Sanok, the south-eastern town from where Śląsk coach Orest Lenczyk hails. And as he addressed the press conference room afterwards, Lenczyk said: "In my home town, even the cinema is not as big as this room."

President: Galway United FC
Galway had what we might call euphemistically call a mixed season – they finished bottom of the Republic of Ireland's Premier Division with a points tally of six from 36 games, the lowest since the league became two-tiered in 1985, as well as conceding an unprecedented 115 goals. But also breaking records last week was club president Michael D Higgins, who now holds that role on a national scale after the poet and Labour politician won the highest number of votes cast in an election for the Irish head of state. "As he always has, we know Michael D will do us proud," the club said in a statement, though normal service was resumed in midweek with a 2-0 loss at Monaghan United FC in the first leg of their promotion/relegation play-off.

Presidential tribute: Ramires & David Luiz (Chelsea FC)
Anyone wondering what the distinctive L-shape made by the fingers of the Brazilian pair after Ramires's opener against Genk, it was a homage to their country's president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is undergoing treatment for throat cancer. "David Luiz and I agreed on the way to the game to pay tribute to Lula that if either of us got a goal," Ramires said. "Thank God I was able to score and we commemorated it. It was a way we could give our support and show that we are rooting for him."

Furniture sale: Cambridge United FC
Despite what we wrote a fortnight ago, Cambridge is still widely acknowledged as the place where football was codified. However the biggest local team, Cambridge United FC, have fallen on hard times. Twenty years ago they were pushing for promotion to England's top division but now they are in the fifth tier, and have put their trophy cabinet on an internet auction site. Actually, it should be said that the solid oak container was being taken down as part of routine redevelopment and their silverware – ranging from a Division Three title to a prize for serving English football's best bacon sandwich – is not up for sale. "This is a quality piece of furniture which would look great in anyone's home – and on top of that you will be owning a piece of unique sporting history," the pitch reads. Proceeds will go to a local charity.

Last updated: 06/12/13 6.20CET

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