JOSE LUIS CHILAVERT may be a goalkeeper, but sometimes you would not think so. The Paraguayan international has now scored 46 goals in his career following his hat-trick of penalties for Velez Sarsfield in the Argentinian championship on Sunday.
In the latest feat of his singular career, Chilavert, 34, scored in the 45th, 75th and 82nd minutes as he helped Velez to a 6-1 win over Ferro Carril Oeste, becoming the first goalkeeper to score three times in a professional game.
The burly Paraguayan, who has a fulminating left-foot shot, is a regular free-kick and penalty taker for club and country. He is also one of football's most outspoken players, with opponents, directors and Paraguayan politicians routinely the subject of his verbal attacks. Chilavert refused to play for Paraguay when they hosted this year's Copa America, for example, saying the country could not afford it.
WHILE THIERRY HENRY was busy making his mark for Arsenal at the weekend, his striking predecessor at Highbury, Nicolas Anelka, missed Real Madrid's latest setback, a 1-0 defeat at Celta Vigo. The troubled Frenchman has yet to score in his 11 games so far, and a Real club doctor accused of him malingering, saying: "He has not got an injury of importance. What he needs is work and not rest." All rest and no work makes Nicolas a dull boy...
Barcelona kicked off their centenary celebrations yesterday by giving life membership of their supporters' club to four babies born soon after midnight, one in Barcelona and one each in three neighbouring towns. The Catalan club was founded on 29 November 1899 by a local Swiss resident, Hans Gamper.
VENEZIA, ONE point above Piacenza at the bottom of Serie A, have finally lost patience with their coach, Giuseppe Materazzi. After all, he had been in charge for a whole 27 days.
Luciano Spalletti, who had been replaced by Materazzi on 2 November, has been recalled to his post after three games away from the bench. Under Materazzi, a former Sporting Lisbon coach, Venezia lost 3-0 away to Milan, were held to a goalless draw at home to Piacenza and on Sunday fell to a 2-1 defeat away to Lecce.
The country's leading clubs may be forced to play behind closed doors if they fail to clamp down on racist chants and rid their terraces of anti-semitic banners, the Italian government said at the weekend.
Speaking at the end of a week in which anti-Zionists planted two small bombs in Rome, the Sports Minister, Giovanna Melandri, said the country's football grounds were nurturing neo-Nazi extremism.
"The sporting clubs and the government are giving themselves one or two months to take all measures necessary to isolate racist intolerance," she said. "But if swastikas and anti-semitic banners continue to appear in Italian stadia, then the world of sport will decide to play behind closed doors."
A group calling itself the Anti-Zionist Movement claimed responsibility for the attacks. Police said they suspected the group was linked to far- right Ultras at the two Rome clubs, Roma and Lazio.
ETOILE SAHEL won the Confederation of African Football Cup in Casablanca on Sunday with an away-goals victory over Wydad Casablanca. Etoile, the first team to win the Cup twice, led 1-0 from the first leg at home and were never really in any trouble after Kaies Ghodhbane extended their aggregate lead midway through the first half.