Monday, 13 November 2006

Van the Man

Ruud van Nistelrooy

The mercurial Dutchman made it six in a week by bagging all four of Real Madrid's goals at Osasuna's Reyno de Navarra stadium. Real Madrid has been missing a pure centre forward for some time (Ronaldo is not and has never been one) and if his current vein of form continues, there'll be many more goals for Ruud this season. There was some help from hapless defenders and goalkeeper, but the last of his goals, particularly, left even van Nistelrooy shaking his head in amazement as his curled shot sailed through the top right hand corner.

This is not the first time Ruud has scored four in the same game; he did the same for Manchester United in a Champions League game against Sparta Prague in 2004. The scoreline there was also 4-1. Real historians have to look back to club legend Di Stefano as the last player to score four goals in an away League match (against Las Palmas in 1957). The last time it happened in a home game was when Hierro netted four in Real's 7-0 thrashing of Espanyol in April 1992. Arguably the most famous 'poker' of goals was scored by Ferenc Puskas in the 1960 European Cup final where Real Madrid demolished Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3.

Games at Osasuna are always heated affairs, but things went too far when Iker Casillas was struck by a cigarette lighter and had to receive treatment. Given the Spanish football authorities' past record, I expect Osasuna will get away with little more than a slap on the wrist. Sad...

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