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Mexès makes mark with acrobatic feat

Published: Friday 23 November 2012, 12.45CET
Anything Zlatan Ibrahimović can do, Philippe Mexès can replicate. The centre-half's stunning overhead kick figures highly as surveys the last seven days in European football.

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Published: Friday 23 November 2012, 12.45CET

Mexès makes mark with acrobatic feat

Anything Zlatan Ibrahimović can do, Philippe Mexès can replicate. The centre-half's stunning overhead kick figures highly as surveys the last seven days in European football.

Goal: Philippe Mexès (AC Milan)
Zlatan who? Mexès's scoring record may pale in comparison with Mr Ibrahimović's – he had not registered since March 2011 before Wednesday – but his effort at RSC Anderlecht in UEFA Champions League Group C had shades of the Sweden striker's stunning goal against England last week. Controlling on his chest, with back to goal 20 metres out on the right, the French international conjured a magnificent overhead kick that sailed into the far corner. Unlike Ibrahimović, he had a goalkeeper to beat and, unlike Ibrahimović, Mexès is, of course, a centre-back. "I don't think Mexès will score another goal like that in his life," said Anderlecht midfielder Sacha Kljestan. Contrary to events over the last ten days, not many manage even one.

Team: VfB Stuttgart
Die Roten followed up a 2-1 weekend Bundesliga victory at VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach with a 5-1 UEFA Europa League triumph at FC Steaua Bucureşti. Four goals to the good after 31 minutes in Romania, Bruno Labbadia's men went on to inflict the Group E leaders' heaviest home defeat in UEFA competition. Beware SC Freiburg, Stuttgart's hosts on Sunday.

Player: Rui Pedro (CFR 1907 Cluj)
If the former FC Porto trainee was a largely unknown figure before CFR's UEFA Champions League home fixture against SC Braga, then the 24-year-old thrust himself into the spotlight with a match-winning hat-trick in Tuesday's Group H encounter. The midfielder, who had never scored in UEFA competition prior to the game, said: "Being man of the match and the first player to score three goals for a Romanian club in the UEFA Champions League group stage makes for a magnificent night."

Number: 13 & 16
Successive seasons that Arsenal FC and Real Madrid CF have qualified for the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League respectively. The Merengues extended their record streak with a 1-1 Group D draw at Manchester City FC on Wednesday. On the minus side, the result means they can no longer top their section, though that fact is not bothering coach José Mourinho one jot. "The two times I have finished second in a group, I won the Champions League," he said. Arsenal defeated Group B rivals Montpellier Hérault SC 2-0 in London on the same night to ensure their 13th straight last-16 participation, all of which have been masterminded by a "very proud" Arsène Wenger.

"No one believed we could stop the Pitmen, except us of course. You have to believe in yourself. Arsenal surprised the whole of Ukraine."
Alexander Kobakhidze, scorer of FC Arsenal Kyiv's second goal in their 2-0 home victory against all-conquering FC Shakhtar Donetsk last Saturday, reflects on the end of the Pitmen's record 24-match winning sequence in the Ukrainian Premier League.

Takeover: Calvin 'Snoop Dogg' Broadus (Celtic FC)
The Doggystyle Records recording artist is not only famed for his three Billboard No1 albums, he is also friends with Mr Posh Spice himself, David Beckham, and this week revealed plans to buy into Celtic FC and entice the former England captain to Glasgow on his imminent departure from LA Galaxy. "I got a lot of interest in soccer," the qualified football coach, who was photographed in a Celtic shirt in 2005, was quoted as saying in Scotland's Sunday Mail.

"I asked my man David about Celtic and he was like, 'Yeah, teams don't come much bigger.' I would have to at least make that offer to my boy. We have lunch when we can, so next time, you know, I am going to speak to him about it. Never say never." Dogg, who promised to "bring a bit of Snoop to things", is reported to share a passion for the Hoops with fellow rapper Jay-Z.

Honoured: Gaetano Scirea
It has been a special week for Juventus. On Tuesday, the Bianconeri beat UEFA Champions League holders Chelsea FC 3-0 in Turin in Group E. The following day they changed the official address of their Juventus Stadium home from Corso Grande Torino to Corso Gaetano Scirea to honour one of the club's greats. A world champion with Italy in 1982, the libero won the European Champion Clubs' Cup, European Cup Winners' Cup and UEFA Cup with Juve, as well as seven Scudettos and a host of other trophies. Tragically, he was killed in a car accident in 1989.

"He was a real champion who reached the top of the world both with the national team and Juventus, but today we miss him as a man because he was a great example to follow for everyone," said Juventus president Andrea Agnelli, during a ceremony attended by past and present Bianconeri luminaries including Gianluigi Buffon and Giampiero Boniperti.

Stadium announcer: Christian Provnier (RES Acrenoise)
The task of manning the PA system at a Belgian fifth-division stadium is perhaps not the most glamorous of jobs. Reading out team lineups and informing fans that their cars are badly parked could make one feel a bit divorced from the action – but try telling that to Acren's Christian Provnier.

A hush descended at the Hainaut team's ground on Sunday when visitors R. Wallonia Walhain Chaumont-Gistoux were awarded a second-half penalty. Yet, as Cédric Schauwers placed the ball on the spot, the PA system burst to life. "Jo, main gauche" (Jo, go left) shouted Provnier, who is also a scout at the club. Keeper Jonathan Duquene put faith in his prescience and was duly rewarded, his save helping Acren to a 2-2 draw.

Goodbye: Råsundastadion
On Thursday in UEFA Europa League Group F, AIK and SSC Napoli contested the final match to be played at the Råsundastadion, the Swedish national team's home for the last 75 years. The Blågult had disputed their last game there in August, versus Brazil, and have now moved to Solna's Friends Arena (venue for Ibrahimović's Mexès-style goal against England), where they will soon be joined by AIK. The Stockholm side had their final Allsvenskan fixture at the famous venue against Malmö FF on 4 November.

"The Råsunda has meant a lot to all AIK players, myself included," said midfielder Daniel Tjernström. "At the same time, we need a new modern arena and that is what we are getting. It's necessary, but there is definitely an air of melancholy."

Last updated: 04/12/13 19.00CET

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