The second half of the Premier League season is well underway and the first full weekend of fixtures in 2013 delivered the goods and then some.
Two monster fixtures on Sunday dominated the schedule, and while the results went fairly as expected, neither game was without controversy.
Liverpool’s trip to Old Trafford was never likely to be a low-key affair, and although the fireworks of recent encounters were thankfully missing, Brendan Rodgers’ side had the right to feel aggrieved after what turned out to be Manchester United’s winning goal was later shown to be offside.
With Manchester United securing a win over their fierce rivals, Manchester City needed to respond with a win against Arsenal; and they did just that, although not without the influence of referee Mike Dean.
Laurent Koscielny was handed an early red card for bringing down Edin Dzeko in the box, only for the Bosnian to miss from the penalty spot. Later on Vincent Kompany was also handed his marching orders, although that ultimately had no influence on the game as the Citizens ran out 2-0 winners.
If that wasn’t enough action for you there were plenty of other games from around Europe to scratch your football-based itch. Over in Portugal, both Porto and Benfica’s unbeaten records this season remained in tact as they played out an entertaining 2-2 draw, while Barcelona romped past Malaga.
With all this action packed into one weekend there was of course some pretty special goals which deserve a second look.
Luckily for you GMF are here as ever to bring you the top five goals from around Europe, so sit back, relax and enjoy.
Nemanja Matic, v Porto
In an enthralling game the two big-boys of Portugal went toe to toe at the Estadio de Luz, producing four goals in the first 17 minutes.
The pick of the bunch was undoubtedly Matic’s Zidane-esque volley to make it 1-1 after nine minutes.
Latching on to a loose ball just inside the area, the former Chelsea man slammed home an unstoppable volley to send the home fans wild.
Thiago Alcantara, v Malaga
A typically well-worked Barcelona goal, Alcantara was on hand to twist the knife into Malaga after the Catalan club had spent 80 minutes running them into the ground.
Lionel Messi turned provider having got on the scoresheet earlier, playing a neat one-two with Alcantara before the young Spaniard fired home a low finish from outside the area.
Eden Hazard, v Stoke
Eden Hazard has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water, and while there is turmoil all around him at Chelsea, the Belgian star keeps on coming up with the goods.
After their Capital One Cup defeat against Swansea, Chelsea looked vulnerable against a rugged Stoke side – but Rafa Benitez’s men blew their opponents away and Hazard’s goal was the icing on the cake.
Picking up the ball just inside Stoke’s half, Hazard slalomed his way forward before slamming an unstoppable shot past Asmir Begovic.
James Milner, v Arsenal
Milner rarely gets any credit amongst a galaxy of Manchester City stars, but against Arsenal yesterday it was the England man who shone the brightest.
Milner stepped up in the absence of Samir Nasri and put in a commanding performance, the peak of which was his fine first-half goal.
Carlos Tevez slipped a fine ball through to Milner into the box, and the former Aston Villa man did brilliantly to fire his shot into the net from a tight angle.
Franco di Santo, v Fulham
Di Santo was recently handed his first international cap for Argentina, and it is goals like this that make it easy to envisage the Wigan man rubbing shoulders with the likes of Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero.
After a quick free-kick, Di Santo makes swift progress down the wing, beats his man and curls an unstoppable shot past Mark Schwarzer in the Fulham goal. Note: Goal from 3.36 in video
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