The Easter weekend was a four-day sporting feast, with England’s stunning German comeback, a spot of Welsh beef and a thought-provoking celebration from one of cricket’s great characters. Relive the drama with our 11 favourite bits of the action…
1. Kane’s Cruyff tribute
Football shed a collective tear when the great Johan Cruyff passed away. But it shared a collective cheer when Harry Kane executed a dazzling Cruyff turn on his way to scoring England’s opener against Germany in Berlin.
2. Vardy’s cheek
Jamie Vardy’s season got even more magical when he bagged his first goal for England. Better still, the Leicester City forward’s strike was an audacious backheel flick past Manuel Neuer – one of the world’s best ’keepers.
3. Watson should retire more often
The day after announcing his imminent retirement from international cricket, Australian all-rounder Shane Watson showed off his big-hitting talent by smashing 44 off just 21 balls in the ICC World Twenty20 game against Pakistan.
4. Aduriz shows age is nothing but a number
At the ripe old age of 35, Athletic Bilboa forward Aritz Aduriz could have been forgiven for assuming his Spanish international career had begun and ended with his debut against Lithuania in 2010. However, after a prolific season (31 goals and counting) he was recalled to Vicente del Bosque’s side for the friendly against Italy. And guess what? He instantly repaid his manager’s faith by netting a clinical equaliser.
5. Luis is back
After a 640-day banishment from competitive internationals for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini, Uruguay forward Luis Suárez was – ahem – chomping at the bit ahead of his return against Brazil. But would he still be the lethal striker Uruguay fans remembered? You bet he would. The Barca star, who captained Uruguay on the night, notched his side’s equaliser in an entertaining 2-2 draw.
6. The Buttler did it
Joe Root might be the most complete England batsman, but Jos Buttler is the most destructive. The 25-year-old’s talents came to the fore again when he smashed 66 not out from 37 balls to power England to victory in their must-win ICC World Twenty20 match against Sri Lanka on Saturday.
7. Payet in full
How many people knew of Dimitri Payet’s sublime skills before he signed for West Ham last summer? After a sparkling debut campaign in the Barclays Premier League, the 29-year-old was recalled to the French team for the friendly against Holland, and he put in a man-of-the-match performance, creating six chances, hitting the post and touching the ball 89 times – the most on either side.
8. Gayle thinks (finally)
Given the size of his ego, Chris Gayle has been known – on occasion – to engage mouth before brain. We like to think some wise old sage – maybe Eric Cantona? – has had a word, though, given the contemplative pose he pulled after dismissing South Africa’s David Miller to help send the West Indies through to the ICC World Twenty20 semi-finals.
9. Church gets there in time
It was fitting that the long Easter Weekend of football began with a religious aspect. Late last Thursday night, Wales striker Simon Church slotted home an 89th minute penalty to snatch a 1-1 draw against Northern Ireland in Cardiff. Church will no doubt be hoping his divine intervention will secure him a place in Wales’ Euro 2016 squad.
10. Beefy goes Welsh
Rumour has it that if you cut England cricketing legend Sir Ian Botham he bleeds the flag of St George. So why was he spotted cheering on Wales last Friday? It’s all because of his Cardiff-born grandson Jim. The 18-year-old flanker scored a try and spent ten minutes in the sin bin when he made his debut for Wales Under-18 rugby team in their 31-30 win against Scotland.
11. Alli poised to be The Greatest
His Tottenham teammates Harry Kane and Eric Dier might have scored two of the goals that helped England defeat Germany, but it was the performance of playmaker Dele Alli that had the pundits purring. Aged just 19, Alli floated like a butterfly across the turf of Berlin’s Olympic Stadium before stinging like a bee. Here’s hoping he stays fit ahead of this summer’s European Championships.
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