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Something from the weekend

The good

Top Toffee

It was a weekend of few sporting highlights after the fixture list was decimated by the weather but Steven Pienaar's dinked finish to score Everton's second goal against Arsenal would warm the hearts of any football supporter.

The South African seemed almost too composed as he waltzed through the gaping holes in the Arsenal defence to meet the keeper head on. But Piernaar's nonchalant chip caught everyone by surprise, not least Manuel Almunia, who was left scrambling towards his own goal line.

"It's one of the best goals I've scored, maybe the best," he said.

It would have been a fitting winner.

Russian racquet

The New Year is barely begun and already the enigmatic Russian Nikolay Davydenko has signalled his intent for 2010 by defeating both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal en route to victory at the Qatar Open. After losing the first set 6-0, and winning only one point against serve, Davydenko went on to save two match points in the second before staging a remarkable fight-back to defeat Nadal in Saturday's final. The Russian likes to play down his ability but after this brilliant performance he'll be a marked man for the Australian Open.

The bad

Unforgettable image

The scenes from last night's incredible opening game of the African Cup of Nations seemed so far removed from the horrific attack on the Togo team bus. After hearing the devastated words of their captain, Emmanuel Adebayor, it's hard to believe that the two incidents are in anyway connected. In the year the whole world turns its attention on Africa, this competition will be forever tainted by Friday's atrocities.

Being caught cold

The cancellation of the weekend's Magners League fixtures leaves Ireland's Heineken Cup contingent in danger of being caught cold when the competition resumes next weekend. The balance between being well rested and being under-cooked may be a fine one but in these Arctic conditions any excuse for a warm-up would be welcome.

... And The bad

Sticky wicket

South African cricket authorities were forced to make an embarrassing U-turn after one of the players they called up for this week's final Test against England turned out to be ineligible. One British Sunday newspaper claimed that the blunder was only realised after their inquiries revealed that Imran Tahir was not qualified to play for the Proteas. Tony Cascarino can be lucky he never came in for such scrutiny.

Irish Independent