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Matuidi and Panathinaikos leave their mark

Published: Friday 7 March 2014, 9.00CET
Blaise Matuidi's first goal for France and a famous Panathinaikos FC win figure alongside wise hedgehogs and panzer tanks in UEFA.com's whistle-stop tour of the last week.

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Published: Friday 7 March 2014, 9.00CET

Matuidi and Panathinaikos leave their mark

Blaise Matuidi's first goal for France and a famous Panathinaikos FC win figure alongside wise hedgehogs and panzer tanks in UEFA.com's whistle-stop tour of the last week.

Team: Panathinaikos FC
The Greens may have merely delayed their rivals' Greek title celebrations, but Panathinaikos's 3-0 weekend win at Olympiacos FC was still a momentous occasion, ending a run of 47 domestic games unbeaten for Míchel's side – 36 in the Super League alone. Currently fourth, Panathinaikos came sixth last term to miss out on European football for the first time since 1997, yet coach Giannia Anastasiou was proud of how they stood up to the runaway leaders. "We proved we have what it takes to look any opponent in the eye," he said. "With Olympiacos having so much possession, we had more space to counterattack," added striker Marcus Berg. Ahead of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 decider with the Piraeus club, Manchester United FC may have taken note.

Player: Josip Drmic (Switzerland)
Quietly building up a reputation in the German Bundesliga with 1. FC Nürnberg, striker Drmić stepped up a new level with Switzerland on Wednesday, scoring his first two international goals in the 2-2 friendly draw with Croatia – his parents' homeland – in St Gallen. It was a cause for celebrations, albeit rather muted ones. "I wanted to show everyone what I was capable of against Croatia," said the 21-year-old FC Zürich alumnus. "I celebrated the first goal in slightly reserved fashion since I hold both Swiss and Croatian passports, and I was playing against my own people, so I was aware I needed to show a certain amount of respect."

Goal: Blaise Matuidi (France)
Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Matuidi broke his national-team duck in quite spectacular style, marking his 20th France appearance with a terrific improvised scissor-kick during Wednesday's 2-0 victory over the Netherlands in Paris. Careering through on goal, the 26-year-old stretched out a foot to meet a ball that seemed to have gone behind him and promptly sealed a fine performance – he also set up Les Bleus' first for Karim Benzema. "I'm not used to using my right foot," he said with undue modesty. "I admit it was not particularly nice, but it went in." A beauty in the eye of all other beholders.

©EJL

Estonia's new hedgehog logo

Number: 53
Estonia's 2-0 midweek friendly win against Gibraltar helped provide worldwide exposure for a novel international footballing chant – the Gibraltarian home crowd's Beatles tribute "We all live in a solid piece of Rock" – but also completed a remarkable set for Estonia, who became the first side to have played against all 53 of their fellow UEFA nations. It was all part of the smaller/wiser policy that led the Estonian Football Association (EJL) to adopt the hedgehog as its official mascot. "Hedgehogs are known to be smart," explained president Aivar Pohlak. "They are small but very hard to beat as they can defend themselves very well. They are able to attack too and can strike down snakes." Four days earlier Roy Chipolina had scored Gibraltar's first international goal to give them the lead against the Faroe Islands, who then came back to set, for them, a record 4-1 win.

Quote:
"Let's hope we don't meet any panzers, then."
Juventus coach Antonio Conte responds to AC Milan boss Clarence Seedorf's assertion that "it would take a tank to beat this Juve" after the Serie A leaders' 2-0 weekend triumph at San Siro.

Cristiano Ronaldo record: 49 goals
The Real Madrid FC forward appears to break new ground every other week – it was recently announced he had now scored at least one goal for every minute of the possible 90 in a match at some point in his career. On Wednesday he struck twice in his country's 5-1 friendly success against Cameroon in Leiria to take sole command of the record of Portugal's top international marksman – having previously been level with Pedro Pauleta on 47. "I knew it would happen eventually," said the 29-year-old, who received a congratulatory call from Pauleta shortly after being substituted. "My next goal is to break the national-team appearance record." With 110 caps, he is 17 shy of Luís Figo's mark.

Vocal performance: Pavel Horváth (FC Viktora Plzeň)
"How many days do I have before the last one comes?" goes the opening line of Questions by Czech band Olympic. Usually it is delivered by lead singer Petr Janda, but on Monday, FC Viktora Plzeň captain Pavel Horváth burst into a rendition while receiving the award for the Czech league's personality of the year. He may be running out of time to win accolades, but the 38-year-old playmaker did not rule out the possibility of a post-football pop career. "I still have a job to do for now, but in 18 months I am going to quit and go for it," he smiled. "I would like to ask the record companies to start preparing a deal."

League: Hungarian First League
Could the Hungarian top flight be the most exciting in Europe? Maybe so. Szombathelyi Haladás's home game against MTK Budapest last weekend produced the First League's first 0-0 draw of the campaign – in fact, the first stalemate in 186 matches (across 314 days) since Budapest Honvéd FC drew a blank against Kecskeméti TE on 20 April 2013. "We did not want to be one of the teams who stopped this run of goals in games," said disappointed Haladás coach Tamás Artner, who insisted – in true Hungarian style – there was no shortage of incident. "We hit the post twice and had two or three good opportunities to score."

Last updated: 07/03/14 11.26CET

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