Di Natale's Fairy-Tale Hat-Trick and the Top 5 Players from Around the World
Antonio Di Natale brought the curtain down on his Udinese career with a tremendous hat-trick against Sampdoria on Saturday night. That takes his total to 17 for the season and moved him to 193 goals overall in his Serie A career. He now sits seventh on the all-time list, he is only 12 goals behind Roberto Baggio in sixth and perhaps that may tempt him into one last season.
The legendary Italian striker makes up one-fifth of the top five players in the beautiful game over the weekend.
Aaron Ramsey: Arsenal
Arsenal have never lost a game when Welshman Aaron Ramsey has fired himself onto the scoresheet. So with the game tied at 2-2 deep in extra-time, there was only ever going to be one player to lead his side to glory.
With just 11 minutes left in the game before going to penalties Arsenal pushed forward looking for a winner. Then Olivier Giroud pulled out a lovely backheel, Ramsey met it first time and beat Allan McGregor at his near-post.
The celebrations were fuelled with relief and jubilation and the midfielder described it as a dream come true when he spoke after the game to theFA.com.
I'm struggling to speak, I'm actually getting quite emotional now.
We've done that a few times in the big games this year, conceded early on, but we came back.
We showed courage, strength and character to come back and to win and to score the winner is something I've dreamed of for many, many years.
It is definitely up there with the most important strikes of my career. And hopefully this will be the first of many. More trophies in years to come.
The 3-2 victory over Hull City at Wembley ended Arsenal’s nine-year run without a trophy and lifted Ramsey into Arsenal folklore.
Antonio Di Natale: Udinese
Udinese hosted Sampdoria on Saturday in Serie A’s late-night kick-off. There was only ever going to be one player to steal the headlines at the Stadio Fruili.
Legendary Italian striker Antonio Di Natale scored a hat-trick in what could be not only his last game for Udinese, but his last game of football ever. The match ended 3-3 but the draw didn’t dampen Di Natale's mood.
6 in his last 3 games for Di Natale. Suspect he'll get asked about plans to retire. Suspect he'll take time to think (rethink)— James Horncastle (@JamesHorncastle) May 17, 2014
His beautiful 26th-minute free-kick curled over the Sampdoria wall and landed perfectly into the top corner to the delight of the home crowd. That levelled the score at 1-1 and soon Di Natale made it two. Roberto Pereyra ran clear on goal and after he rounded the keeper he laid the ball on a plate for the striker to double his tally.
His side then found themselves 3-2 behind with only a few minutes to go, but an awful back pass from Sampdoria’s Pawel Wszolek let the veteran through on goal. Di Natale made no mistake and found the back of the net to the euphoria of the home fans.
From the scenes at the end of the game, there was a clear feeling that this was goodbye from the legendary striker.
Diego Godin: Atletico Madrid
The stage was all set at the Camp Nou on Saturday night. Barcelona hosted Atletico Madrid in the final week of the La Liga season in what was one of the weekend’s most anticipated matches.
A win for either side would have seen them crowned as champions, Atletico with a two-point lead knew that a draw would be enough to see them champions of Spain for the first time since 1996.
The first 45 minutes couldn’t have gone any worse for Diego Simeone’s team. They lost Diego Costa and Arda Turan to injury within the first 23 minutes, and then a wonder strike from Alexis Sanchez gave Barcelona the lead going into the break.
Step forward Diego Godin to become Atletico Madrid’s hero. Spanish midfielder, Gabi, played in a vicious out-swinging corner, and Godin timed his run and leap perfectly, heading the ball beautifully past Barca 'keeper Pinto.
The big Uruguayan wheeled off in celebration and was then mobbed by his team-mates. That was the goal that sealed the title, and it was a goal that ended the monopoly that Barcelona and Real Madrid have held over the Spanish league since 2004.
Daniel Wass: Evian Thonon Gaillard
Saturday night also saw this season’s Ligue 1 campaign come to an end this season. With Paris Saint-Germain having already secured the title with two weeks to go the spotlight dropped to the relegation battle.
It couldn’t have been set up any better. FC Sochaux in 18th took on Evian Thonon Gaillard in 17th. Only one point separated the two sides and there was everything to play for as both sides tried to salvage their place in Ligue 1.
Going into the game Sochaux hadn’t faced defeat in their last seven games, a run of four wins and three draws saw them rise from relegation certainties to survival hopefuls.
With eight minutes gone, Evian silenced the Stade Auguste Bonal when Danish international Daniel Wass scored a sensational volley to give the away side the lead. It was a stunning strike and would be the catalyst in Evian’s 3-0 victory as they put the nail in Sochaux’s coffin.
The goal was the ninth of the season for Wass and he has been one of the brightest stars of the season. Very underrated due to Evian’s poor season, but this is a team that has beaten PSG, Monaco, Marseille and Lyon this campaign, with Wass as the architect for most of those victories.
Daniel Wass: Has scored 4 goals in his last 7 Ligue 1 matches after scoring 4 in his other 31 games this season— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) May 17, 2014
It is unclear whether Wass will return to Evian next summer as he has been linked with a move away and was quoted this week about his future (in French): "I hope a transfer this summer, although I wish the best to Evian. I've been here three years and this is probably the time to try something new."
Those quotes came before his fantastic performance on Saturday, he added his second and Evian's third in the 72nd minute and also had a hand in their second. Without the performances of Wass there is little doubt that Evian would not be looking forward to another season in Ligue 1
Obafemi Martins: Seattle Sounders
The name Obafemi Martins will hold mixed memories for Newcastle United and Birmingham City fans across the country, but this weekend he scored a goal for the Seattle Sounders that showed exactly why both clubs took a chance on the Nigerian striker.
In fact his time at Newcastle wasn’t exactly a nightmare, he managed 28 goals in 88 games. However, his impressive form was diluted with injury problems, similar to the time he spent at Birmingham where he only managed six appearances.
He will mostly be remembered for scoring the winning goal for Birmingham as they beat Arsenal 2-1 in the 2011 League Cup final.
Martins made the headlines this weekend with this exquisite goal for Seattle Sounders as they beat San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 on Saturday night.
It was an absolutely amazing finish from an impossible angle and is Martins’ 12th goal in two seasons for the American club, he also his six assists this season and leads the MLS. Seattle sit top of the Western Conference this season with seven wins out of 11 games and are one of the favourites to lift this season’s MLS Cup.
More goals like that from Martins and you wouldn't bet against them.