The first proper Argentines Abroad of the new year sees a narrow spread of criollo achievement, but an impressive one nonetheless. Lionel Messi started the defence of his numerous player of the year awards with a hat trick. His next goal for Barcelona will be the hundredth of his club career. In England, Manchester City played Blackburn Rovers in the only match to involve any Argentines and there was another hat trick, this one from Carlos Tevez, fresh off the back of his Premier League Player Of The Month award for December 2008. This took Tevez past 100 goals for his own career outside Argentina. Liverpool sealed the transfer of Maxi Rodríguez from Atlético de Madrid. The Spanish club will use the proceeds to sign Eduardo Salvio from Lanús. In Italy, meanwhile, there was mixed news for Lazio’s Argentines. All this and more lies in wait. Just read on…
In La Liga, both the pacesetters won once again, and once again their star Argentines were to thank. Real Madrid’s victory over Real Mallorca was started off early on by Gonzalo Higuaín’s eighth minute goal. Trivia buffs, here’s one for you: it was the first match played in snowy conditions at the Bernabéu for 30 years. Lionel Messi helped keep Barcelona’s noses in front in the title race later on though, scoring his hat trick to move to 99 goals for the club (from just 186 matches) and help Barca to a 5-0 away win over Tenerife. At other points of the weekend, Sergio Aguero – who may be Chelsea-bound if rumours in England are to be believed – scored Atlético’s fourth in a 4-0 win away to Real Valladolid.
Tenerife 0 – 5 Barcelona (Messi’s goals first, third and fourth)
Real Zaragoza’s poor season got worse with a visit to Mauricio Pochettino’s Espanyol. A 2-1 loss saw Juan Pablo Carrizo, on his return to the first team, take the blame for both the hosts’ goals. Leonardo Ponzio had something of a shocker as well. Cristian Alvarez, at the other end, had a happier day even if he did concede an own goal from Moises Hurtado.
In Italy, Ezequiel Lavezzi started for Napoli but had to be substituted with an injury after just 22 minutes, but it was a stroke of luck in a way for his team. Although Lavezzi will be out for around three weeks, his replacement – fellow Argentine Germán Denis – scored the only goal of the game against Sampdoria, to win it with 19 minutes left. He also had one disallowed for a marginal offside. On Saturday, Diego Milito and Walter Samuel both scored for Internazionale to contribute to a seven goal thriller – thanks also to a Wesley Sneijder double (!) Inter ran out 4-3 winners at home to Siena.
Napoli 1 – 0 Sampdoria
And in Greece there was a shower of goals from Argentines to make up for all the snowed-off matches and continuing winter breaks further north in Europe. Nacho Scocco scored for AEK Athens, as did Ismael Blanco in a 3-3 draw at home to Atromitos. Emanuel Perrone definitely scored twice for the opposition, though – and what’s more he got them both in the space of one minute. Javier Cámpora scored twice for Aris Salonika in a 4-2 win over Iraklis, and Luciano Galletti got Olympiakos’s second in a 2-1 victory at home to Larissa.
AEK 3 – 3 Atromitos (Scocco third; Blanco fourth; Perrone fifth and sixth)
And in England Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers, packed with hard-as-nails Lancastrians as they both are, braved the cold snap sweeping Europe on Monday night to play only the third Premier League match of the ‘weekend’. City ran out easy winners, with Carlos Tevez getting them off the mark only seven minutes in, before adding two more in the second half – the third a brilliantly floated chip from outside the box with three defenders in front of him blocking his path to goal. Embeddable goals for Premier League games are, of course, nigh-on impossible to track down, but you can click these links to watch Tevez’s goals: here’s his first; this is his second; and here’s his third.
You can now follow HEGS on Twitter (including updates during and between league matches and similar stories that might not go up on the site until later). I’ll keep mentioning this until I’m happy with the number of followers I’ve got, so save yourselves the misery and do it now.