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Bayern reign supreme, Higuita makes Kairat happy

Published: Friday 3 May 2013, 12.00CET
FC Bayern München were again the week's star performers along with a keeper named Higuita (not that one) while AC Sparta Praha coach Vítězslav Lavička was benched. Literally.

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Published: Friday 3 May 2013, 12.00CET

Bayern reign supreme, Higuita makes Kairat happy

FC Bayern München were again the week's star performers along with a keeper named Higuita (not that one) while AC Sparta Praha coach Vítězslav Lavička was benched. Literally.

Team: FC Bayern München
For some time now this column has carried a kind of 'Act of God' clause, where Lionel Messi has to perform a minor miracle to be nominated player of the week – we may soon have to apply a similar rule to Bayern. Jupp Heynckes' side take the honour for the fourth time in five weeks and they could not be ignored after completing the biggest aggregate win in a UEFA Champions League semi-final with a 3-0 triumph away to FC Barcelona.

"We will now reflect on what we achieved, enjoy the moment and then turn our attention to the Borussia Dortmund game at the weekend," said Heynckes. It is the meeting with their great Bundesliga rivals at Wembley on 25 May that looms larger on the horizon for most. "YES, YES, YES!" screamed Bild. "The final of the century."

Player: Higuita (Kairat Almaty)
Kairat became the first team from Kazakhstan to win a UEFA competition last weekend. They took the UEFA Futsal Cup the hard way, beating holders FC Barcelona 5-4 then former winners MFK Dinamo 4-3 – not bad for a side that had lost their previous four semi-finals. The man who stood out was their goalkeeper Higuita, not just for his net-minding but also for his prowess as a fifth outfield player, baffling both of Kairat's opponents, particularly with his vicious shot, and eventually scoring what proved the clincher against Dinamo in Sunday's final.

Born Leonardo De Melo Vieira Leite, the Brazilian custodian explained that his attacking ways were indeed the key to his evocative nickname. "When I was little, I used to have long hair and a goalkeeper hardly played outside his area back then but I was often doing that, feinting, showing off," Higuita told "So everyone was saying, 'Look at that goalie. He is a fool just like [René] Higuita. Higuita come here!' That's how I became Higuita. I also tried the scorpion kick when I played football, but only in training."

Goal: David Luiz (Chelsea FC)'s man at Stamford Bridge on Thursday was quick to report the beauty of Luiz's goal. The right-footed centre-back sealed Chelsea's 3-1 semi-final second-leg success with a first-time left-footed strike so sweet that it drew a second standing ovation from the Matthew Harding Stand when replayed on the big screen. It also poured water on the dying embers of FC Basel 1893's challenge and Chelsea will now meet SL Benfica in the UEFA Europa League final on 15 May.

Number: 19
Aston Villa FC have now gone 19 games without a top-flight clean sheet, an English Premier League record. Still, if they keep scoring six at the other end as they did in Monday's much-needed 6-1 home win against Sunderland AFC – Christian Benteke notching a hat-trick – then boss Paul Lambert, a veteran of Dortmund's last UEFA Champions League triumph in 1997, will not mind so much.

"That was the first time in my life I had to stop watching, because I feared my heart couldn't take any more. I locked myself in a toilet, covered my ears and looked at my watch. When I thought the 94th minute had passed and I hadn't felt the stadium trembling again, I came back out, but there was still one minute left. I couldn't bear it."
Dortmund chairman Hans-Joachim Watzke admits he could not watch as Real Madrid CF mounted a comeback against his club in the Spanish capital on Tuesday, vacating his seat alongside King Juan Carlos I for the less salubrious environs of the WC. The German side lost 2-0 on the night but hung on to win the semi-final 4-3 on aggregate.

©AFP/Getty Images

Valdés did not have much to celebrate

Milestone: Víctor Valdés (FC Barcelona)
Unfortunately for the Barcelona keeper, his 100th game between the posts in the UEFA Champions League did not end happily, as he had to pick the ball out of his net three times. Nevertheless, the 31-year-old can look back on many happier days in the competition. Following his first appearance against Club Brugge KV on 18 September 2002, the Spanish international has lifted the trophy three times (2006, 2009, 2011) – memories which will no doubt surpass this notable but, ultimately, disappointing night.

Debutant: Jordan Allan (Airdrie United FC)
It is every 14-year-old's dream. You are sat at home on a Friday afternoon and the phone goes: it is the manager of the local club asking if you are available to play. Fiction became fact for Allan as he became the youngest ever player in a senior match in Britain, all of 14 years and 199 days old, as he came on during second-tier Airdrie United FC's 2-0 home loss to Livingston FC. "I can't wait to get into school and tell my class-mates what I did!" he said. How do you better that? Scoring six for the Under-15 side the following day is not a bad start.

Birthday gift: Mr Bench (AC Sparta Praha)
What present do you buy for a man turning 50? He probably has all the books he needs and a garage full of power tools. You begin chanting his name in the hope something springs to mind: "Vítězslav Lavička, Lavička, Lavička." And there it is. Lavička, you see, translates from Czech as 'little bench', so for his 50th the Sparta Praha boss received ... a little bench, painted in club colours. Others in the footballer fraternity – Ashley Cole (coal), Bastian Schweinsteiger (pig climber) and Sergio Tejera (tileworks) – will hope this does not start a trend.

Team talk: Jeremy Kyle (Southend United FC)
Nine games without a victory at their Roots Hall home and English fourth-division club Southend decided enough was enough. But who could they call to help them out of the mire, to break that impenetrable mental barrier? Enter, daytime television host Jeremy Kyle, self-styled transatlantic king of conflict resolution. 'Jezza' was at his rabble-rousing best as he spoke to the team before last Saturday's meeting with Morecambe FC, imploring a return to winning ways.

Southend went down 1-0, Kyle's presence perhaps proving more distraction than inspiration as players Matthew Lund and Ryan Cresswell spoke of being "starstruck". Southend manager Phil Brown has previous in this sort of thing: he famously gave his Hull City AFC side their half-time team talk on the pitch when they were losing 4-0 at Manchester City FC in December 2008. They ended up drawing ... the second half, succumbing to a 5-1 defeat.

Last updated: 04/12/13 5.31CET

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