The weekend saw international football take center stage as many CONCACAF nations continued on their quests for World Cup qualification while a glut of international friendlies took place.
However, while attention was rightly focused on the likes of Canada’s men’s team reaching the World Cup for the first time since 1986, Christian Pulisic scoring his first international hat trick for the United States and Christian Eriksen scoring within moments of making his miraculous return to play for Denmark, there’s a chance you may well have overlooked some equally entertaining action that took place outside of the international sphere.
Fear not, for here’s a run-down of the various domestic happenings you might have missed.
– Stream European, African World Cup qualifiers on ESPN (US)
– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (US only)
– Don’t have ESPN? Get instant access
Steven Gerrard rolls back the years on Anfield return
Stevie with the opener from the spot against Barcelona 🎯⚽️ pic.twitter.com/nupXtXPJQa
—Liverpool FC (@LFC) March 26, 2022
Liverpool fans got to see club legend Steven Gerrard return to Anfield and pull on the famous red shirt one more time as part of a Legends XI charity exhibition game against Barcelona on Saturday. Gerrard reunited with former teammates Jamie Carragher and Dirk Kuyt as part of a Reds team pitted against a Barca side graced by the likes of Rivaldo, Edgar Davids, Gaizka Mendieta and Javier Saviola. The 41-year-old, now a Premier League manager of Aston Villa, opened the scoring via a 14th-minute penalty that he initially won himself. That plaintive look to the referee after getting brought down in the area proved Gerrard has lost none of his competitive instincts.
Barca came back to win 2-1 through goals from Giovanni and Rivaldo, but we’re sure that didn’t matter to the thousands of Liverpool fans who got to see their heroes of yesteryear in action one more time.
Man United Women get first taste of Old Trafford atmosphere
𝙏𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙞𝙨 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙤𝙣𝙚 🍋🎵
— Manchester United Women (@ManUtdWomen) March 28, 2022
Manchester United Women attracted a huge crowd as they played their first Women’s Super League game at Old Trafford on Sunday. A carnival atmosphere engulfed the stadium as 20,241 fans turned out for Sunday’s clash against Everton Ladies, with two goals from Alessia Russo helping to seal a 3-1 win for the home side.
Playing in front of 20,000+ fans at The Theater of Dreams? 🤩 Thank you for your incredible support, Reds ❤️ https://t.co/yUDw55XlVx
— Ella Toone (@ellatoone99) March 27, 2022
The game set has WSL season high for attendance. United’s previous home game — staged at their usual ground at Leigh Sports Village — attracted a crowd of just over 1,300, but it felt like there were about that many autograph-hunters for United’s Ella Toone to meet and greet after the match.
Wrexham give Reynolds and McElhenney incredible Hollywood ending
— Wrexham AFC (@Wrexham_AFC) March 28, 2022
Wrexham’s celebrity co-owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney were rendered emotional wrecks after witnessing their club win a truly extraordinary game on Saturday. Riding high in the National League going into the game, the Welsh outfit were unexpectedly 5-2 down within the first hour of the match against bottom-of-the-table Dover Athletic, who are already relegated and recently narrowly avoided going an entire year without a win. However, this stoked something deep within the Dragons who won 6-5 after staging an incredible comeback that culminated with two goals amid nine chaotic minutes of stoppage time. Jordan Davies was the savior for Wrexham, first equalizing at 5-5 in the 91st minute before tapping in a winner in the 97th to send The Racecourse Ground wild.
I just lost 9 years off my life. And I’m okay with that. Apologies to my family. Also, bury me in Wales. https://t.co/albYioaD1b
— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) March 26, 2022
I love this game. I hate this game. I love this game. UP THE TOWN. https://t.co/pPDpgOrkZs
— Rob McElhenney (@RMcElhenney) March 26, 2022
Marcelo’s his nails Ronaldo ‘Siiiuuuu!’ celebration
🇧🇷✨ Lleva la calidad en los genes
— GOL ⚽️ (@Gol) March 25, 2022
Proving that the apple doesn’t fall far from the footballing tree, Real Madrid youngster Enzo Alves Vieira followed in his father Marcelo’s footsteps by scoring for Los Blancos at the weekend. The veteran left-back’s son took part in the prestigious LaLiga Promises under-12 youth tournament, finding the net twice in a 6-0 win over Liverpool.
However, rather than paying tribute to his old man with his goal celebration, Enzo instead chose to emulate a different Real icon with a trademark routine instantly familiar to most fans. While his goal celebrations are lifted directly from Cristiano Ronaldo, we like to think that Enzo’s ability to cut in from the left flank and his bouncy, tousled locks both serve as fitting tributes to his dad.
There’s only one Will Smith
81′ | GOOOOOAAAAALLLLLL!!
Another Thomson corner ends with a Town goal, this time @Smith99Will getting the final touch!
⚒ 0-3 ⚫ pic.twitter.com/rcUe0naBqe
— Harrogate Town AFC (@HarrogateTown) March 26, 2022
It was also an eventful weekend for Will Smith, who hit the headlines after he came storming into the spotlight to swat his opponent down with a forceful strike.
That’s right: after waiting patiently for his moment, the defender seized his chance by springing forth to deliver a powerful blow, thumping home a third goal for Harrogate Town in their impressive 3-0 away victory over Scunthorpe. The commanding result saw Harrogate win for the first time in eight games and subsequently haul themselves up into 15th place in League Two, a clear 16 points above the relegation zone.
In fact, the goal was of such seismic importance that the 23-year-old’s name has gone viral right across social media in the aftermath. At least, we assume that’s why “Will Smith” has been trending worldwide.