Goal.com World Player of the Week #73: Konstantin Vassiljev
Club: NK Nafta Lendava
Achievement: Led Estonia to a 3-1 win against Serbia in Belgrade
One would have hardly tipped Estonia to craft a win against Serbia at the Stadion Crvena Zvezda in Belgrade but that is precisely what one of the 'lesser' European footballing nations did on Friday night.
At the heart of that 3-1 win for the Blueshirts in their Euro 2012 Group C qualifier was a certain Konstantin Vassiljev. You would be forgiven if you fail to recognise him as, playing for the oldest Slovenian football club NK Nafta Lendava, the 26-year-old attacking midfielder was a nobody. Until Friday evening.
It was Vassiljev's strike in the 73rd minute that swung the match in favour of Estonia. That was the visiting side's second goal of the match and they would go on to get a third in injury time. Vassiljev was a constant threat to the Serbian defenders and his runs and enthusiasm kept them on their toes.
Estonia's 3-1 win inspired by Vassiljev's heroic performance has now propelled them to second place in Group C with six points from three matches. Tarmo Ruutli's side are now just a single point behind former world champions and group favourites Italy.
Congratulations to Konstantin Vassiljev, Goal.com's 73rd World Player of the Week!
Estonia | Shock winners in Belgrade
Nani - Portugal
The Manchester United winger was the star of the show in Portugal's encouraging 3-1 win against Denmark in their Euro 2012 qualifier on Friday evening. The 2006 World Cup semi-finalists had started the qualifying campaign on a bad note but Nani turned on the style last week and scored twice for his team in the space of just two minutes in the first half. Cristiano Ronaldo also looked good for Portugal but Nani outshone his compatriot.
Miroslav Klose – Germany
The Bayern Munich striker is one of ‘those’ players who disappoint at club level but turn on the style on the international stage. On Friday evening Klose scored yet again for Germany as he netted twice against Turkey to lead the former world champions to a 3-0 victory. Mesut Oezil and Thomas Mueller did make it easier for him, but Klose’s contribution in front of goal cannot be undermined.
Fernando Llorente - Spain
With star striker David Villa misfiring and missing an open-goal chance, Athletic Bilbao star Fernando Llorente decided to roll up his sleeves and get into the action. The 25-year-old netted twice in quick succession in the second half, scoring with his head on both occasions. Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has often been criticised for not having a ‘Plan B’ but Llorente may just be the man to prove crucial in giving the European and world champions an extra edge when their tiki-taka fails.
Adam Szalai - Hungary
It was ‘only’ San Marino but scoring a hat-trick in international football - and that too in a competitive match - deserves applause. Szalai was the star player in Hungary’s 8-0 victory over the European minnows on Friday evening. The 22-year-old netted his first as early as the 18th minute, found the target again three minutes before the half-hour mark with a stunning volley from 35 yards and in the opening minutes of the second session accomplished his hat-trick.
Diego Fabbrini - Italy Under-21
The Italy Under-21 national team defeated Belarus 2-0 in Rieti on Friday in the first leg of their play-off tie for the UEFA Under-21 Championships. At the heart of the Italians’ winning display was Fabbrini. The 20-year-old Empoli attacking midfielder was sensational throughout and ran rings around the Belarussian defenders with his silky skills and dribbling.
Leave your notes of congratulations for Konstantin Vassiljev below, or discuss who else deserves a place in the sun this week...