The good thing about the end of the holiday season is that soccer doesn’t end with it. The top European soccer leagues had their first weekend-round since the festive season. English Championship side Nottingham Forrest had the finest weekend as they stunned Arsenal 4-2 in the FA Cup. Diego Costa had the most forgettable weekend as he received perhaps the most unexpected red card of his career in his La Liga return. And 2017 didn’t leave with Real Madrid’s nightmare in La Liga, they drew yet again in Spain.
New year, same ol’, same ol’. Let’s recap the top European leagues with numbers. We’ll start with a 10 of diamond from England…
10. Tottenham number 10 Harry Kane rolled his dashing goalscoring form into the new year. After netting the most goals in 2017 (56), Kane bagged a brace in his third game of the year for Tottenham as his side blanked AFC Wimbledon 3-0 in the third round of the FA Cup. Center back Jan Vertonghen scored the Spurs’ other goal.
9. Fiorentina number nine Giovanni Simeone led his club to ninth place last weekend with 90th minute goal in a 1-1 draw with Inter Milan. This tie keeps Inter nine points away from league toppers Napoli. Simeone wasn’t the only number nine on target, Mauro Icardi, who’s having the season of his life with the Nerazurris scored his 18th Serie A goal in 20 appearances.
8. Atletico Madrid number eighteen Diego Costa was red carded for the eighth time in his professional career (you thought he had more, didn’t you?) in a 2-0 victory over Getafe. It was Costa’s second game in his return to Atletico. The Spaniard netted Atleti’s second goal and ran to his club’s beloved fans to get a celebration-hug. When Costa went back on the pitch, to his unbelief, referee Jose Munuera gave him a second yellow.
7. Lazio’s number seventeen Ciro Immobile has now scored as equaled or more goals than seven teams in the Serie A. What pushed him to this tremendous stats is a four-goal display against SPAL 2013 in a 5-2 victory. Immobile leads Italy’s top flight with 20 goals. The Italian knows where the net is, he only needed four shots to score four goals on SPAL.
6. England Championship club Nottingham Forrest avoided a six-game winless streak and it came against their toughest opponents of the season, Arsenal who are currently in 6th place in the Premier League. Forrest downed the Gunners 4-2 at home in the third round of the FA Cup. U.S International Eric Lichaj scored two goals for Nottingham. His second goal was probably the most watched goal in England of the weekend, an out-curling volley from the top of the box. The fans were chanting “USA! USA!” in England; you know you scored a cracker when this happens.
5. Real Madrid drew for the fifth time in La Liga playing to a 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo. Daniel Wass was instrumental in Celta’s tie with Madrid, his fifth assist of the season led youngster Maximiliano Gomez to the game-tying goal and he netted the opener. Gareth Bale scored Madrid’s two goals.
4. Liverpool’s number four Virgil van Dijk scored a game-winning header in his debut for the Reds against Everton in the Merseyside Derby. Van Dijk’s was a Liverpool player for just four days when he netted the winner. The Dutch’s goal ushered Liverpool to a fourth straight win. James Milner scored the Reds’ opener while Gylfi Sigurdsson tied it for Everton to complete the 2-1 scoreline.
3. The last three minutes of regulation in Lyon’s game versus Nancy in the Coupe de France was intense to say the least. Lyon was losing 2-1 until Marcelo tied it up in the 87th minute before Gnaly Maxwell Cornet won it with a sublime low free-kick in the 90th.
2. Two was the number in Paris last weekend. Kylian Mbappe scored two goals for PSG against Rennes in the Coupe de France, Neymar netted two goals too and Angel Di Maria scored… two goals of his own. Les Parisiens swept past Rennes 6-1.
1. The one and only Lionel Messi scored one goal and provided one assist in his number one game of 2018, which was a 3-0 win over Levante. Luis Suarez didn’t have a bad game himself either, he netted his 11th La Liga goal. Paulinho scored Barca’s third goal.