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European football: Five things you may have missed this weekend


European football: Five things you may have missed this weekend

Aritz Aduriz scored a career-best 26 goals last season

Napoli are making a bold bid to win their first Serie A title for 26 years – but it's just about game over in France after an eventful weekend in Europe.

Paris St-Germain could have the Ligue 1 title secured in March if they carry on with their extraordinary form after demolishing Champions League hopefuls Angers 5-1 on Saturday.

In La Liga, Atletico Madrid missed the chance to overhaul leaders Barcelona, while in Germany Bayern Munich maintained their grip on top spot in the Bundesliga.

But what about the more off-beat tales from around Europe this weekend? BBC Sport rounds up the stories you may have missed.

Goal of the season?

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo invariably draw most of the plaudits for the sheer volume and quality of their goals – but not this weekend.

That's because veteran Athletic Bilbao striker Aritz Aduriz has staked his claim for La Liga's goal of the season.

Aduriz's spectacular bicycle kick helped his side level at 1-1 against Basque rivals Eibar, setting up a 5-2 home win for Athletic.

Perhaps more remarkable is the 34-year-old's continued renaissance in the twilight of his career.

The once-capped Spain international, now in his third spell at Athletic, wrapped up the win against La Liga's surprise package Eibar, taking his personal tally to 25 goals in all competitions this season.

Troyes triumph – at 22nd attempt

European football: Five things you may have missed this weekend

Troyes winger Jimmy Cabot (left) can enjoy a rare win bonus this weekend

Troyes have had something of a nightmare since winning France's Ligue 2 title last season. Claude Robin's side failed to win any of their opening 21 Ligue 1 matches before they travelled to Lille on Saturday.

They had been getting closer to success, though. A week earlier, they had been two goals up at home to Rennes before losing 4-2 so perhaps it was only a matter of time before they finally tasted a league victory.

It did not look good for them as they trailed to Sofiane Boufal's penalty at half-time. But Troyes stormed back with three goals in the final 13 minutes. Jimmy Cabot got two of them, which may have been a surprise even to himself, given that he had scored only once in his previous 15 games.

It completed a miserable week for Lille, who had been knocked out of the Coupe de France on penalties by fourth-tier amateur side Trelissac three days earlier.

As for Troyes, they remain a mere 49 points behind league leaders Paris St-Germain. They can forget a charge for the title, though, as they only have 48 points left to play for.

Niang, bang, goal

European football: Five things you may have missed this weekend

M'Baye Niang managed to set up a goal without realising it – but it still wasn't enough to give AC Milan victory

AC Milan coach Sinisa Mihajlovic needs every break he can get at the moment as he battles to hang on to his job, but even Serie A's oddest goal of the weekend could not help his team to victory at Empoli.

The match was poised at 1-1 early in the second half when Empoli defender Lorenzo Tonelli's attempted clearance on the edge of his own penalty area smacked Milan striker M'Baye Niang on the head.

Niang knew nothing about it – but the ball ran perfectly for Giacomo Bonaventura to slot the visitors into the lead.

Milan have been consistently inconsistent this season, though, and could not see out the win. Massimo Maccarone, once of Middlesbrough, equalised for Empoli, and the game finished 2-2.

Mario Balotelli, incidentally, made a late appearance as a substitute – his second since returning after more than three months out with a hip problem – but contributed little.

Newcastle fans look away now

European football: Five things you may have missed this weekend

Hatem Ben Arfa scored 13 Premier League goals in four-and-a-half years with Newcastle

This column has been keeping a close eye on Newcastle mis-fit Hatem Ben Arfa, whose career revival in France continues apace.

Ben Arfa's Toon torment ended last January with a move to Nice, where his form has earned him a return to the French national squad.

And on Saturday the former Marseille attacking midfielder, 28, took his goal tally for the season into double figures in a 2-1 win over Lorient.

While Newcastle keep struggling to score, particularly away from home, Ben Arfa has helped Nice into second spot in Ligue 1 behind champions-elect Paris St-Germain, with a Champions League spot in their grasp.