Who won the weekend? And who stunk out the joint? FOXSoccer.com fetes the stars who shone and shames the players who simply didn’t show up. Here are the weekend's studs and duds. -- FOXSoccer.com staff
Stud: Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez (Bayer Leverkusen)
The legend of Chicharito continues to grow at BayArena after the Mexican star scored twice during Leverkusen’s 3-0 win over Hannover. Saturday’s double now takes his impressive goal-scoring tally to 21 through 24 appearances since joining Leverkusen from Manchester United last summer. Easily cementing his status as the best Bundesliga signing this season, Louis van Gaal must surely be kicking himself.
Dud: Christian Benetke (Liverpool)
Laggard and flat-footed, Benteke looks like a man who doesn’t fit in with Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool at all. Desperately short of confidence as a result, Benetke squandered chances Saturday against West Ham, and rarely looked like the commanding presence he is supposed to be.
Stud: Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City)
The youngster is quickly emerging as one of the brighter talents at an already stacked Manchester City, and he made Aston Villa pay Saturday with an assured hat trick. Villa, of course, are appalling, but take nothing away from the quality Iheanacho displayed on the day – he looks a special talent.
Dud: Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid)
Public enemy No. 1 on Saturday, the Brazilian left back will likely face a lengthy ban after seeing straight red in the 44th minute for his vicious knee-high tackle on Barcelona star Lionel Messi. The tackle, thankfully, didn’t injure the Argentine ace but it did change the game’s complexion as Atletico were left with 10-men. Los Colchoneros ultimately never recovered and might have kissed their title hopes goodbye following the 2-1 loss at the Camp Nou.
Stud: Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)
The Gunners rode Alexis’ goal to a 2-1 win over Burnley to progress to the fifth round of the FA Cup on Saturday, and the difference the Chilean makes for Arsenal is clear for all to see. With him, Arsenal looked to have a cutting presence, even fielding what was effectively a B-team. When he came out, Arsenal looked dire up top.
Dud: Entire squad (Aston Villa)
Is there a sorrier team in world football right now? It’s hard to think of a top-flight team with as much money and history as Villa has choking in such spectacular fashion. The news just keeps getting worse for Remi Garde’s men, as they were thrashed by Manchester City Saturday in the FA Cup, and look certain to be relegated. There’s not a single bright spot in the squad right now – and a lot of players who are clearly looking elsewhere.
Stud: Oscar (Chelsea)
The hat-trick hero of Chelsea’s 5-1 demolition of MK Dons Sunday in the FA Cup, this was the performance fans have been craving out of Oscar all season long. Brilliant in front of the goal, and always forcing the issue, Oscar could have had six on the night, and each of his goals were extremely well-taken.
Dud: Kyle McFadzean (MK Dons)
One thing you cannot do against a top side is make mental errors – and McFadzean made a howler early to simply gift Chelsea the opener. Bizarrely playing a ball back to his keeper with Diego Costa lurking, he put David Martin in a no-win situation, and Oscar made Dons pay the price. That set the tone for the entire game.
Getty ImagesPete Norton
Stud: Michael Bradley (USA)
Iceland were willing to give the U.S. midfield all the time in the world on Sunday, allowing Michael Bradley to have another comfortable, virtually mistake-free performance in the center of the pitch. The captain notched two assists on the day – a wonderful through ball to Jozy Altidore for the team’s first goal of 2016, and a set piece on Steve Birnbaum’s 90th-minute winner.
Getty ImagesHarry How
Dud: Kellyn Acosta (USA)
Chalk it up to nerves or playing in an unnatural position at left back, but 20-year-old Kellyn Acosta’s national team career got off to a shaky start. The youngest member on Jurgen Klinsmann’s January roster, Acosta failed to track Kristin Steindorsson’s run on his opening goal for Iceland, and though he got better as the game went on, Acosta looked uncomfortable on the ball throughout the first half.