Player: Isco (Málaga CF)
A star was born on the opening night of the UEFA Champions League group stage. Isco, 20, scored the first goal of the evening and later added a second as Málaga marked their debut with a 3-0 home win against FC Zenit St Petersburg. It was a better introduction than the attacking midfielder could have hoped for. "Playing in the Champions League is the best thing there is – just incredible," he said. "I don't think there can be anything better." His coach Manuel Pellegrini believes there is better to come: "Isco has a great future and is starting a great career – no one knows what his limit is. The important thing is that he's with Málaga."
Team: FC BATE Borisov
Málaga recorded their first group stage win at the first attempt; 24 hours later, Belarusian champions BATE made it lucky 13 as they finally got off the mark. First-half goals from Aleksandr Volodko, Vitali Rodionov and Edgar Olekhnovich set them on course for a shock 3-1 victory at LOSC Lille. "It was our first win, an historic one, and we beat a very strong team," purred midfielder Aleksandr Hleb. Coach Viktor Goncharenko, a European veteran at 35, added: "I don't know if Lille underestimated us, but we have some quality players and we showed our class today."
Goal: Oscar (Chelsea FC)
Fabio Quagliarella's equaliser for Juventus forced every newspaper in England to abandon their 'Oscar winning performance' headline, but the 21-year-old Chelsea attacker's second of the night at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday – a turn and elegant curling shot from just outside the box – was worthy of the red carpet. "Every young boy in Brazil dreams of playing in the Champions League so for me to realise this dream, it makes me very proud," said Oscar in his Player Rater winner acceptance speech.
"I'm delighted, especially because I have Italian roots, Italian blood. I think today is one of the best days of my father's life."
RSC Anderlecht goalkeeper Silvio Proto, a boyhood AC Milan fan, celebrates after a string of fine saves earned his side a 0-0 draw at San Siro
Zlatan Ibrahimović became the first player to score for six different teams in the UEFA Champions League as he converted a penalty in Paris Saint-Germain FC's 4-1 triumph over FC Dynamo Kyiv. "This was the first game for our new team and we hope to continue like this," said the Sweden striker, who had previously registered for AFC Ajax, Juventus, FC Internazionale Milano, FC Barcelona and Milan. Sir Alex Ferguson threw another record on the pile: Manchester United FC's 1-0 success against Galatasaray AŞ made him the first manager to record 100 wins in Europe's top club competition.
"You can never be sure of a win against a German side until their team bus has left the stadium."
Once more in circulation after Borussia Dortmund struck with three minutes left to beat Ajax 1-0 on Tuesday.
Prodigal son: Rafael Bastos (CFR 1907 Cluj)
Brazilian midfielder Rafael may find himself with one fewer Christmas card this year after scoring both goals in CFR Cluj's 2-0 victory at his old club SC Braga on Wednesday. If the 27-year-old had a limited impact in the home dressing room at the Estádio Municipal, making just eight Liga appearances, he is unlikely to be forgotten by the current crop after striking in the 19th and 34th minutes. "It was a dream come true for me to score two goals against my former team," he said. "And to do so in the UEFA Champions League is something amazing."
In extremis: Lucho González (FC Porto)
Told in the hours before kick-off at GNK Dinamo Zagreb that his father had died, Lucho had every excuse to sit out the encounter in Croatia. However, the 31-year-old midfielder showed professionalism beyond the call of duty, opening the scoring in Porto's 2-0 UEFA Champions League win. "It was in the script that I'd score," he said. "When I heard that my father had died, the coach and the club directors spoke to me and gave me their support. My goal took some weight off obviously, but it does not matter who scores the goals – it only matters that we got the victory."
Comeback kings: Real Madrid CF
Cristiano Ronaldo and José Mourinho both gave great demonstrations of the lost art of the knee-slide celebration as Madrid – faltering in their domestic league – scored twice in the last five minutes of their group stage curtain-raiser against Manchester City FC to take the points. The 3-2 victory in the Spanish capital maintains their record of never having lost the opening game of a campaign in Europe's top club competition in 50 years. "It is a good win because the DNA of my team is back," said the coach, with Ronaldo – scorer of the winner – adding: "It is said that when achieving something takes effort, it tastes sweeter when you get it – that's what happened tonight."
Comeback queen: Solveig Gulbrandsen (Norway)
The nine UEFA Women's EURO 2013 qualifying round groups concluded this week, with an important contribution made by a player who had sat out the fixtures over the previous 12 months. Capped 154 times, Norway playmaker Gulbrandsen retired from football in late 2010, yet at the start of the year she began playing again for Vålerenga FB. She was recalled by Norway for this week's decisive qualifiers against Belgium and Iceland, where her side needed two wins to book a finals place. They did just that, Gulbrandsen setting up the opener in the 2-1 defeat of Iceland that clinched the group. "It's fun to be with the gang again," the 31-year-old said. "I'll play as long as it's fun and I feel I'm good enough."
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