Di Maria's Decima Dream: Top 5 Players from Around the World This Weekend
With most domestic European seasons having reached their conclusion, the net for great performances couldn't be cast as wide as normal this weekend.
However, there were several fantastic displays in some crucial games, including the Champions League final and the Championship and League One play-offs.
Check out the top five players in world football from the weekend, led by an Argentinean who inspired Real Madrid to "La Decima."
Angel Di Maria
After a wait of 12 years, Real Madrid finally lifted their highly anticipated 10th European title (known locally as "La Decima") with a 4-1 win over crosstown neighbours Atletico Madrid in Lisbon, Portugal, on Saturday.
The scoreline flatters the winners, who were losing for nearly an hour of regular time before Sergio Ramos earned overtime with an extra-time equaliser.
Ramos played an extremely impressive game, winning more aerial duels (five) and taking more touches (136) than anyone else on the team (according to WhoScored). But the Man of the Match was Angel Di Maria.
In a game where Los Blancos looked flat for large periods, the Argentinean was often their best option going forward. The 26-year-old also deserves full credit for Gareth Bale's goal, which was the product of one of his many surging left-wing runs.
There's never an easy way to lose a game that some claim to be worth £130 million, but Steve McClaren's Derby were defeated in the Championship play-off final in an exceptionally cruel manner—a 90th-minute strike from Queens Park Rangers substitute Bobby Zamora.
QPR manager Harry Redknapp told The Guardian that his side were "hanging on" and hoping for extra time after playing the final 30 minutes without Gary O’Neil.
The main reason the West London side were kept in the game was their standout player, Robert Green, who denied the Rams on five separate occasions with excellent saves. He was particularly useful in the six-minute period after midfielder O'Neil was dismissed, as he made important stops from Craig Bryson, Chris Martin and Simon Dawkins.
Leyton Orient's hopes of ending their 32-year absence from the second tier of English football were quashed on Sunday, as Rotherham beat them on penalties after a thrilling 2-2 draw in the League One play-off final.
The O's were up 2-0 in the first half after two goals in the space of five minutes, a feat which their northern rivals replicated after the interval. Both the Millers' goals came from striker Alex Revell, who, in a cruel twist of fate, moved to Rotherham from Leyton Orient in 2011.
Revell's equaliser was almost certainly the finest strike of his career, as he picked up the ball around 35 yards out and volleyed it over goalkeeper Jamie Jones.
Despite his history with Orient, Revell insisted he would celebrate if he scored. He was suitably enthused by his equaliser, but perhaps not as much as his manager Steve Evans.
In New Jersey on Saturday, the Portland Timbers increased their MLS unbeaten streak to five matches with a 2-1 win over New York.
Former Southampton striker Bradley Wright-Phillips put the home team ahead in the 36th minute with his 10th goal in nine appearances this season, but the show was stolen by Timbers forward Maximiliano Urruti, who bagged both of the visitors' goals in a superb performance.
According to WhoScored, the Argentinean enjoyed 83 per cent passing accuracy and was responsible for two-thirds of Portland's on-target shots.
For the first time in Scottish football history, a Bundesliga-style relegation/promotion play-off was introduced this season. On Sunday, the second leg was contested by Hibernian and second-tier hopefuls Hamilton Academical, with the SPL side enjoying a 2-0 lead from the first leg last Wednesday.
Hibs appeared to have survived the drop until the 93rd minute, when French midfielder Anthony Andreu bagged a dramatic equaliser from about eight yards out.
The match went to penalties, where Andreu was once again on target to help Hamilton return to the top flight for the first time in three years.
Andreu's spirited performance and last-gasp equaliser is made even more impressive by the fact that the 26-year-old also scored the winner in a standout performance in the play-off semi-final with Falkirk last week.
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