Team: UEFA referees
UEFA's winter refereeing courses took place in Rome this week and featured a historic first. The top men's and women's referees came together for the first time at a UEFA event, with the former preparing for duty in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. The women, meanwhile, were gearing up for assignments in the UEFA Women's Champions League and, for some, UEFA Women's EURO 2013.
This new step by the European body met with widespread praise. "The presence of the women referees is a milestone for UEFA," said UEFA's chief refereeing officer Pierluigi Collina. "I am particularly convinced that this is a good initiative as women's football, and therefore women's refereeing, is becoming more and more important."
Player: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid CF)
Scorer of a career-best 46 Liga goals last term, the Portugal forward issued an ominous warning to Spanish defences after registering a ten-minute hat-trick – a perfect one at that – in Madrid's 4-0 defeat of Getafe CF last Sunday.
"I want to beat my own records from last season and to be a better player than I was then," said the Merengues' No7. Ronaldo's first goal in the metropolitan derby win was his 300th at club level, and his treble also brought up 100 strikes at the Santiago Bernabéu in just 87 games.
Goal: Ricardo Fernandes (Doxa Katokopia FC)
The former FC Porto, Sporting Clube de Portugal and FC Metalurh Donetsk midfielder made an unexpected bid for goal of the season with this extraordinary piece of improvisation in Doxa's 2-2 Cypriot First Division draw at Alki Larnaca FC on Monday (1.12 minutes into this official Cyprus Football Association (KOP/CFA) clip). Jorge Troiteiro crosses from the left and Fernandes, 34, produces a bizarre scorpion kick to lob keeper Antonis Giorgallides. "It really was a sensational goal," the scorer said. "I never get bored of watching the replays. You need a bit of luck to score a goal like that."
David Moyes oversaw his 500th game as Everton FC manager last weekend in the FA Cup fourth-round tie at Bolton Wanderers FC. A late strike from defender John Heitinga, his first since the final day of last season, ensured the milestone passed successfully for the manager who has guided the Merseyside club to seventh place or higher in seven of his ten full campaigns at the helm.
"I was reading in the programme before the game that in the past eleven years we have only finished in the bottom half of the Premier League twice so we have improved as a club and grown," said the Glaswegian.
"I am very proud of my 300th league match. In these times of money and transfers it really is rare that a footballer plays 300 times for one club. But I am a faithful person. My wife will also love to hear that."
RSC Anderlecht's 31-year-old defender Olivier Deschacht reveals he is a one-woman man after making his 300th league appearance for the Brussels club.
Black spot: RSC Anderlecht
On Wednesday, Anderlecht beat KRC Genk 1-0 in the home first leg of their Belgian Cup semi-final with a Milan Jovanović goal. However, most of the talk afterwards concerned Guillaume Gillet, who had a weak penalty saved by Genk's László Köteles in first-half added time. It was the midfielder's third penalty failure of a campaign in which the Belgian First League leaders have scored only six out of 15 spot kicks.
"I have never known anything like this in my whole career, and I hope I will never experience anything like this again," said Anderlecht coach John van den Brom. "Whenever we get a penalty, everyone in the stadium already thinks: 'Oh no.' And so do I."
Winter wonder: Arik Benado (Maccabi Haifa FC)
Appointed in November to replace Reuven Atar with the side 13th in the 14-team Israeli Premier League, coach Benado has engineered a stunning turnaround at Maccabi Haifa. Nine wins and two draws in the 39-year-old's 11 games in charge have helped the Greens shoot up to second place, just five points short of leaders Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC.
"My first goal was to stabilise the system," said former central defender Benado, who holds the Israeli records for top-flight appearances (568) and international caps (94). "I had to make sure the players understood that Maccabi Haifa belong at the top. Maybe I didn't believe the change would be so drastic but I did hope."
Defender Dekel Keinan, back at the club after two years in Britain, added: "If we want the title we need to play for it and not talk about it too much. We are not afraid of the word 'championship', but we are not making ourselves any more likely to win it by saying that."
Free transfer: Antonis Petropoulos (AEK Athens FC)
After the mayhem of transfer deadline day, a reminder – perhaps – that the best things in life are free. Unable to get regular football in five years at Panathinaikos FC, striker Petropoulos was released and immediately signed by stricken giants AEK Athens, bottom of Greece's Super League with three wins in 15 top-flight matches. However, since his debut in the 3-1 loss at Asteras Tripolis FC in early January, he has scored in each of AEK's next three games, with the resulting seven points lifting his side – never relegated – to 12th in the 16-team competition.
"I don't even want to utter the word 'relegation' – we are talking about AEK and I cannot imagine a league without AEK," said Petropoulos, who celebrated his 27th birthday on Monday. "I feel better now going onto the pitch because I am playing for a club who believe in me. I have nothing to prove. I know who I am and I always do my best."
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