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Fine football, fine dining and a charming man

Published: Friday 22 February 2013, 12.00CET
AC Milan dazzled, Valencia CF got a free meal and someone unlikely marvelled at Robbie Keane: "Pacing like a lion, as weightless as an astronaut." reveals all.

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Published: Friday 22 February 2013, 12.00CET

Fine football, fine dining and a charming man

AC Milan dazzled, Valencia CF got a free meal and someone unlikely marvelled at Robbie Keane: "Pacing like a lion, as weightless as an astronaut." reveals all.

Team: AC Milan
Before Wednesday's UEFA Champions League last-16 meeting with FC Barcelona, coach Massimiliano Allegri was annoyed his Milan side were "already considered as a sacrificial victim". However, given they had failed to beat the Azulgrana in four attempts last season, and that the runaway Liga leaders had failed to score on just one previous occasion this term, the Rossoneri's 2-0 first-leg success was some achievement. Indeed, it was Barcelona's first two-goal defeat in 133 games, since a 3-1 Copa del Rey quarter-final second-leg loss at Real Betis Balompié on 19 January 2011.

Milan had only 35% possession but restricted the visitors to two shots on target as goals from Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari put them in a strong position to reach the quarter-finals. Captain Massimo Ambrosini concluded: "Maybe it's not aesthetically beautiful, it's not very nice to watch, but they force you to play like that and history teaches you that Barcelona were eliminated from this competition only by teams who faced them in this way."

Player: Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund)
Reus lit up last weekend's second v fourth game in the Bundesliga, scoring all three goals as Dortmund overcame visitors Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0. The midfielder got Dortmund off to a blistering start, finishing coolly from Mario Götze's clipped pass on eight minutes for his 50th league goal. He did not have long to wait for his 51st, tucking the ball between goalkeeper Kevin Trapp's legs moments later to double the lead, before completing his treble midway through the second half.

The German international, 23, remained typically modest, thanking Götze for two brilliant assists. "In both situations you can see what he is capable of. He is still so young. I am delighted that I get to play with him." However, while he was eager to share the credit, ownership of the match ball was not up for negotiation. "The first time I scored three goals I did not take the ball, this time I want to have it," he said. "This is a nice souvenir."

Goal: Moshe Lugassi (Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC)
Beat this for drama. The Israeli Premier League leaders conceded in the 90th minute of Monday's match at Bnei Yehuda Tel-Aviv FC to fall 2-1 behind at Bloomfield Stadium. However, not satisfied with his side immediately equalising from the kick-off through Rade Prica, Maccabi Tel-Aviv midfielder Lugassi then slammed in the winner nine minutes into added time. "There was no one to pass to, so I shot," the 22-year-old shrugged afterwards. "I didn't think too much about it. We showed great character coming back from 1-2 to 3-2. It's a big thing."

Number: 664
Lukas Podolski's goal for Arsenal FC against his former club FC Bayern München in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday was the first conceded by the Bundesliga pacesetters in 664 minutes, a sequence dating back to 14 December. Perhaps that is why Bayern scorer Thomas Müller expressed somewhat unexpected dissatisfaction at full time. "We didn't play perfectly for 90 minutes and we have to work on that," he said.

"Family tree aficionados will be aware that Robbie and I share the same Irish blood; his late grandfather [Thomas Nolan] being my own father's cousin. To watch him on the pitch – pacing like a lion, as weightless as an astronaut – is pure therapy. Robbie, the pleasure, the privilege is mine."
Former Smiths singer Morrissey explains why he went to watch Republic of Ireland forward Robbie Keane play for LA Galaxy this week.

Fine dining: Valencia CF
Striker Roberto Soldado says new coach Ernesto Valverde has brought "a positive reaction" since his December arrival at Valencia: "He gave us four very clear ideas when he came and the team is carrying them out well." One of those instructions, it seems, may be giving his players top-class free meals.

After a cancelled flight from Bilbao to Valencia at the start of the month caused Valverde to miss a training session, the 49-year-old decided to fine himself for his absence – using the money to treat staff to a slap-up lunch at Valencia's Masia Romaní de Bétera restaurant.

Players tucked into Ibérico ham, cod croquettes, octopus, puffed pastry of apple and liver, lamb and fillet steak, though they opted for soft drinks over a carefully selected 2009 Crianza wine. They nonetheless helped their coach rack up a bill reportedly in excess of €1,000.

Family curse: Diego Milito and sons (FC Internazionale Milano)
The Milito family have reason to believe somebody has it in for them. In the week Inter's Diego Milito suffered a season-ending knee injury on UEFA Europa League duty, his brother Gabriel took his son – as well as Diego's children Leandro and Valentino – to San Siro to catch up with his old Barcelona team-mates before the match with Milan.

As they strolled around the pitch prior to the last-16 tie, Leandro was struck in the face by a ball hit by Barcelona's Sergio Busquets. While the youngster received treatment, his brother and cousin had a kickabout with Lionel Messi, during which Valentino hurt his leg. "Are you trying to destroy my entire family?" joked former Argentina defender Gabriel, who retired from playing last summer.

Pushy parents: Claude Puel (OGC Nice) & Paul Ince (Blackpool FC)
Nice coach Claude Puel gave his son Grégoire his top-flight debut as a full-back in last Saturday's 1-0 Ligue 1 win at SC Bastia, having signed the 21-year-old from Olympique Lyonnais reserves as a striker. If Puel Jr's bow brought him some acclaim, the gaffer was unwilling to play the part of doting dad. "If he was in the starting XI, it's because he deserved it," he said. "Am I proud? I don't want to confuse things. My choices are not dictated by feelings."

Ex-England midfielder Paul Ince will now be getting used to that strain betwen football and family after being hired as manager of English second-tier side Blackpool FC, where son Thomas is a rising star. "I got a text from my mum saying dad might be getting the Blackpool job," said the 21-year-old winger upon hearing about the appointment. His father added: "I'm sure at the moment he's dreading me being here, but once we get going he'll be fine."

Who is that masked man: Freddy (AC Omonia)
Angolan forward Freddy has become synonymous in Cyprus with goal celebrations, with the 33-year-old having greeted past strikes by donning a replica of the mask made famous by the 2000 film Scary Movie. On one occasion, an Anorthosis Famagusta FC official retaliated, saluting one of his team's goals by putting on a Darth Vader mask.

Last week, Freddy unveiled a new addition to his collection, marking a goal against Anorthosis by whipping out a slightly less daunting disguise – that of cartoon character Shrek. "I put on the mask because it was green [the colour of Omonia] and because I picked it out with my children," he said. "Football is also about having fun and that was the message I wanted to put out."

Last updated: 04/12/13 6.47CET

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