Zlatan's Hat-Trick and the Top 5 Players from Around the World This Weekend

Ryan BaileyFeatured ColumnistFebruary 23, 2014

Zlatan's Hat-Trick and the Top 5 Players from Around the World This Weekend

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    Zlatan Ibrahimovic enjoyed yet another highlight in his Annus mirabilis on Sunday, bagging a hat-trick at Toulouse to bring his goal tally to 44 goals in 42 appearances for club and country. He was so pleased with his performance that he gave himself a little rest on the advertising hoardings. 

    The irrepressible Swede makes up one-fifth of the top five players in the beautiful game over the weekend.

Olivier Giroud

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    Olivier Giroud responded to the scandal in his personal life and a few games on the sidelines in the best possible way on Saturday: scoring twice in Arsenal's 4-1 rout over Sunderland at the Emirates. 

    Just a few days after being dropped for Yaya Sanogo in a Champions League tie, the Frenchman gave one of his better performances in an Arsenal shirt. He opened the scoring with a side-foot shot with five minutes on the clock and capitalised on a sloppy Santiago Vergini back pass to double the advantage in the 32nd minute. 

    Arsene Wenger was quoted by the Arsenal Twitter account saying he "had no hesitation about [Giroud's] strength of character," in relation to his positive reaction to his off-the-field issues. 

Kevin Nolan

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    With Andy Carroll serving a three-match ban, his strike partner, Kevin Nolan, took the opportunity to shine on Saturday, helping West Ham to their fourth successive Premier League victory.

    After Southampton took the lead, Nolan set up Matt Jarvis's equaliser with a superb long pass before putting the game out of the Saints' reach in the 71st minute with his sixth goal in nine games. 

    After the game, West Ham manager Sam Allardyce praised Nolan for the manner in which he has bounced back from recent disciplinary troubles, Ian Stokes of The Daily Mail:

    His contribution has been massive, not just his goals. The pass he made for our equaliser split a very resilient Southampton defence open.

    He had a lot of time to reflect on what happened. It was about rolling his sleeves up and using those weeks to define himself and show everyone what he can really do.

     Thanks to Nolan's efforts, the Hammers now find themselves seven points clear of the relegation zone. 

Nikica Jelavic

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    Much like West Ham, Hull took a big step toward securing Premier League football next season with a vital three points on Saturday. The Tigers put four unanswered goals past beleaguered relegation rivals Cardiff, with two of them coming from new signing Nikica Jelavic.

    The Croatian striker found the net either side of the break—the first a low strike and the second a powerful header from a Liam Rosenior cross.

    The new strike partnership of Jelavic and Shane Long looked brilliant, with their efforts inspiring Hull's biggest ever Premier League away win and Steve Bruce's 100th top-flight win as a manager.

    Jelavic has been a little slow out of the blocks since moving to Hull, but this performance suggests his goal ratio is set to improve.   

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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    Frank Augstein/Associated Press

    Toulouse hosted Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1's early kick-off game on Sunday. Take a wild guess at which player stole the show in PSG's 4-2 win?

    The mighty Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a hat-trick (now formally known as a "Zlat-trick"), bringing his total Ligue 1 tally to 22 for the season—nine goals more than the next highest scorers in the league, Edinson Cavani and Alexandre Lacazette.

    Ibra opened his account in the 32nd minute from the penalty spot and then connected with a Yohan Cabaye free-kick for his second.

    In the dying minutes, he was awarded another penalty and responded to the humiliating prospect of having his cocky Panenka chip saved by stabbing home the rebound.

    The scoreline flattered PSG, but it will do nothing to deflate the hat-trick hero's ego.   

Marcin Robak

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    It's hard to imagine that anyone in world football had a better weekend than Polish striker Marcin Robak. 

    The 31-year-old bagged an incredible five goals in Pogon Szczecin's 5-1 victory over Lech Poznan on Saturday. Four of the strikes came in the first half, with a 72nd-minute header completing a very decent day at the office.

    According to 101GreatGoals.com, Robak has bagged 16 goals in 19 appearances for Szczecin in this campaign. 

     

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