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Porto, Vrba and Januzaj make history

Published: Friday 11 October 2013, 9.00CET
FC Porto and Pavel Vrba reached milestones, Adnan Januzaj broke cover and travel broadened FC Spartak Moskva's fanbase; marvels at seven days of European football.

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Published: Friday 11 October 2013, 9.00CET

Porto, Vrba and Januzaj make history

FC Porto and Pavel Vrba reached milestones, Adnan Januzaj broke cover and travel broadened FC Spartak Moskva's fanbase; marvels at seven days of European football.

Team: FC Porto
Jackson Martínez and Juan Quintero struck as the Portuguese champions won 3-1 at FC Arouca last weekend. It was Porto's 50th Liga game without defeat, with the UEFA Champions League contenders' run of 41 victories and nine draws stretching back to a 3-1 reverse at Gil Vicente FC on 27 January 2012. Amazingly, that defeat ended a sequence of 55 unbeaten league matches, meaning the Dragons have lost just one of their last 106 top-flight outings since 6 March 2010. "Our goal is always to win, whatever competition we are playing in," said coach Paulo Fonseca, who in his first campaign in charge has overseen Porto's best Liga start since 2007/08 – six wins and a draw from their first seven games.

Player: Christen Press (Tyresö FF)
Staying in Europe has paid off for 24-year-old forward Press. While many top United States players went home for the launch of their new national league this year, she made the shorter journey across Sweden from Göteborg FC to Tyresö FF, near Stockholm, and has since broken into her national team and scored a league-leading 21 goals in 19 appearances for her new club. On Wednesday, she struck midway through each half to earn European debutants Tyresö a 2-1 home win against Paris Saint-Germain FC in their UEFA Women's Champions League round of 32 first leg – despite cancelling out her first goal by giving away a 36th-minute penalty. "I have never conceded a penalty in my career, so I was a bit in shock," Press admitted. "[Our goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris] said: 'Score in the second half and then we're even', and that's what happened."

Goal(s): Adnan Januzaj (Manchester United FC)
A week ago, Januzaj had never started a professional league match. Within a few days he was world-famous following his full Premier League debut for Manchester United at Sunderland AFC last Saturday. United, slow starters this season, fell behind early but the 18-year-old winger saved the day: he scored his first senior goal on 55 minutes with a cool side-foot, then his second six minutes later with a superb first-time volley from a headed Sunderland clearance. "We have a lot to thank him for," said team-mate Michael Carrick after the ensuing 2-1 victory. "Those were great finishes. He's got a great attitude and lots of ability. He looks a proper player."

Number: 5
FC Viktoria Plzeň boss Pavel Vrba marked his fifth anniversary in the job this week – no small achievement, as the coach himself noted: "The average length of a coach's tenure at a Czech club is 19 league matches." With no Czech First League or UEFA Champions League commitments, Plzeň kicked back this week with 20-5 friendly win against Sokol Hlohová, who play in the country's lowest division. The final score was somewhat influenced by Plzeň defender Marián Čišovský's decision to swap shirts with a Hlohová player behind the referee's back to give the underdogs a hand. "This is the first match this season I have been fully satisfied with," smiled Vrba.

"My wife bought it for me the day we arrived in Barcelona. I put it on, we won, and so it continued. Actually I think this shirt is in fashion now because I've seen lots of people wearing it out and about in town."
Coach Gerardo Martino explains how the lucky green polo shirt he wears for away fixtures has helped FC Barcelona make a 100% start in the Liga, including four victories on the road.

The Pyjama game: Pepe Reina (SSC Napoli)
On 22 September, Pepe Reina became the first goalkeeper to save a Mario Balotelli penalty as his side won 2-1 at AC Milan. The Italy striker had converted 21 in a row before falling foul of the Spanish international, who has revealed that he continues to celebrate his achievement – in a somewhat peculiar manner. "After saving Mario's penalty I had to ask for his shirt," the 31-year-old said. "It was a historic moment. He gave it to me and I now use it as a pyjama top. I sleep with his shirt and my Napoli shorts." The only consolation for his wife may be that he didn't ask for Balotelli's ill-starred boot as well.

Home from home: FC Spartak Moskva
Spartak recorded the week's biggest crowd in Russia despite a late change of venue which moved their home game against FC Terek Grozny 1,700km away to Ekaterinburg. With heavy rain in the Russian capital wreaking havoc on pitches, Spartak proposed to switch their home and away fixtures with Terek, but were refused and so took the decision to head east. Amazingly, the 0-0 draw drew a crowd of 10,500, with local Spartak fans joining the brave Muscovites who accepted the club's offer of a free 40-hour bus ride to Russia's fourth-largest city. Valeri Karpin was glad his players were not too inconvenienced. "It took only two hours to get to Ekaterinburg by plane," the coach said.

Pushy parents: Goran Ivaniševic and Dario Šimić
HNK Hajduk Split caused a rift in one famous household when they took on local fourth division team NK Kustošija in the Croatian Cup. The 'Masters from the Sea' were comfortable 5-1 winners, but former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanišević may not have impressed his children – who are on the books at Kustošija – by cheering on Hajduk from the stands. "My kids are playing here but Hajduk is my club," the 42-year-old explained. Former Croatia, GNK Dinamo Zagreb, FC Internazionale Milano and Milan defender Dario Šimić had no such conflicts of interest as he watched the same game. The 37-year-old's children are also Kustošija trainees, and he said: "I am a Kustošija fan for this match, but if they had been playing Dinamo instead of Hajduk, I would have been 50-50."

Stadium: Buckingham Palace
On paper, Polytechnic FC's 2-1 victory over Civil Service FC looked like any other English Southern Amateur League first division fixture. This, though, was the first game to be played in the grounds of Buckingham Palace – Queen Elizabeth II's back garden, as part of the Football Association (FA)'s 150th anniversary. The half-time oranges were served on silver platters by palace footmen and HRH Prince William, the FA's president, warned those taking part that anyone breaking a window would have his grandmother to answer to. Bosnia and Herzegovina-born Bojan Jelovac had the honour of scoring the opening goal at the palace, though his celebration hardly went to plan. "I was going to bow to the Prince if I scored but I couldn't see him," the 28-year-old said. "I bowed anyway."

Last updated: 04/12/13 3.01CET