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Higuaín stakes his claim as Merseyside rivals star

Published: Friday 14 February 2014, 8.44CET
An honourable act of sportsmanship in Greece, a well-rewarded Everton FC fan and Gonzalo Higuaín's quest to become Diego Maradona's heir feature in UEFA.com's weekly digest.

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Published: Friday 14 February 2014, 8.44CET

Higuaín stakes his claim as Merseyside rivals star

An honourable act of sportsmanship in Greece, a well-rewarded Everton FC fan and Gonzalo Higuaín's quest to become Diego Maradona's heir feature in UEFA.com's weekly digest.

Team: Liverpool FC 
A club once revered for playing a fearless brand of winning football rolled back the years on Saturday to dismantle Arsenal FC 5-1. "The performance level was absolutely out of this world," enthused Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, whose side powered four unanswered goals past the visitors inside 20 breathless opening minutes. The Reds then dug deep four days later, twice rallying from behind to edge Fulham FC 3-2 in London courtesy of Steven Gerrard's added-time penalty. The result took them within four points of Premier League leaders Chelsea FC, with talk of a first league title since 1990 gathering volume on Merseyside.

Player: Gonzalo Higuaín (SSC Napoli)
Over 20 years after Diego Maradona departed Naples, there is a new kid on the block – another prodigiously gifted Argentinian international with a penchant for scoring goals. Higuaín may have some way to go before achieving cult status, but did his chances no harm this week. After registering twice against AC Milan in Serie A, the 26-year-old poacher struck again in front of the onlooking Maradona as Napoli swept aside AS Roma and took their place in the Coppa Italia final. "I want to do what Maradona did: first win the World Cup and then the Scudetto. He made Napoli go crazy," said Higuaín. "If I could do this it would be the ultimate dream. I want to stay in Naples for a long time – I'm going to be a king here."

Goal: Marcelo Diaz (FC Basel 1983)
Basel supporters still reeling from the loss of Egypt maestro Mohamed Salah to Chelsea were temporarily appeased when Díaz found the net in belligerent fashion during last weekend's top-of-the-table clash in Switzerland. Trailing nearest rivals BSC Young Boys 2-1 at home, the Super League pacesetters were in need of a fillip and the Chile midfielder provided it – collecting possession and cracking a half-volley into the top corner from 30 metres. Fabian Frei completed the turnaround eight minutes later as Basel strode five points clear at the summit.

Quote: 
"It's a great joy, a great satisfaction for me and the players, who were simply fantastic once again tonight. This victory is very important for the whole of Italian futsal." Italy coach Roberto Menichelli after his charges saw off Russia 3-1 in the 2014 UEFA Futsal EURO final.

Number: 10
In a week when UEFA.com unearthed examples of outfield players going in goal, Club Atlético de Madrid's Gabi found himself between the sticks for the remaining ten minutes of his side's 2-0 Liga reverse at UD Almería. With Atlético having lost Daniel Aranzubia to a red card and used all three substitutes, the Spain midfielder stepped up to the mark only to be swiftly beaten from the spot by Almería attacker Verza.

©Getty Images

Everton's Goodison Park

A touch of class
"The fans are the heart of football," was famously proclaimed by Manchester United FC great Sir Matt Busby and a maxim Everton FC followed to the letter on Wednesday night. After Malaysian supporter Ric Wee's 30-year dream to watch his team play at Goodison Park – against Crystal Palace FC – was dashed by foul weather, Everton got wind of his travails via social media. They responded by treating him to an evening of hospitality, including meeting manager Roberto Martínez and defender Leighton Baines. Wee returned to the club the next day for a tour of the stadium given by former Toffees striker Graeme Sharp. "Today Everton proved again it is the people's club, taking extra effort to connect with the fans. [I] salute the people running the club," Wee tweeted.

Goalscoring goalkeeper
Having lost ten of their previous 11 Spanish third-tier matches, La Roda CF went into last Sunday's game against fellow strugglers Arroyo CP needing a lift. Thanks to goalkeeper Víctor Bocanegra, they got just that. Aiming for La Roda's strikers, Bocanegra thumped a long ball into the prevailing wind and looked on in delight as it bounced over the opposing keeper and into the net. Forward Matias Saad added a second to secure three points for the Albacete-based side. "My team-mates have been calling me 'Pichichi' [top scorer] in training ever since," Bocanegra joked. "We haven't been clinical in front of goal lately so I hope my effort will help the team come out of our bad run."

Fair play, Apostolos Mantzios
With last Monday's Greek Super League contest between OFI Crete FC and Panthrakikos FC delicately poised at 0-0, the hosts were reduced to nine men 18 minutes in, with Marco Zoro and Georgios Makris both receiving treatment. Rather than pressing home their numerical advantage, however, Panthrakikos boss Mantzios ordered his players to retain possession until Zoro and Makris had recovered. As fate would have it, the 44-year-old's honourable act went unrewarded as Crete went on to claim a 1-0 win. 

Travelling in style 
Following your team up and down the country can be a laborious and often unfulfilling jaunt. As a result, one could hardly blame SC Bastia fans for adding a touch of chic to their away day when they travelled by ferry to Olympique de Marseille for last Saturday's Ligue 1 fixture. Once on board, a carnival atmosphere ensued with a sea of red flares illuminating the boat. A more subdued mood may have accompanied the return leg, though, after the Corsican club succumbed 3-0.

Last updated: 14/02/14 9.23CET

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