It was a good week for Argentina’s players in the European leagues, with important goals which will affect the title races of a number of Europe’s bigger leagues and one or two eye-catchers further down the pecking order, too. And there were also a few expats on show on the opening weekend of Major League Soccer in the United States…
Hernán Crespo first. He’s been struggling for playing time lately and wasn’t called up for Argentina’s recent friendly against Egypt, with Alfio Basile knowing he’s got to look for replacements for Valdanito before long. But all the same, he reminded Inter how useful he can be on Saturday, scoring after 11 minutes to give them an away lead against Lazio which was later cancelled out as the defending champions drew 1-1. With Roma also drawing, 1-1 away to Cagliari, Inter remain four clear at the top of Serie A.
In England, there was a glut of Argentine goals. At the top, Manchester United thrashed Aston Villa at Old Trafford (as usual), and Carlos Tevez peeled off his marker to head home the second goal twelve minutes before the break. Derby County were relegated courtesy of a 2-2 draw with the probably also doomed Fulham, but went down fighting thanks to Emanuel Villa, who put them ahead after ten minutes and got a late equaliser with ten remaining.
Birmingham City, meanwhile, have reportedly been told by Al-Sadd that Mauro Zárate, who had his name mis-pronounced in a way that only British commentators can manage on Saturday night’s Match Of The Day, will cost them £20 million if his transfer is to be made permanent. On his current form the midlands side might not be the only interested party – Zárate scored twice in the 3-1 win over Manchester City, both sublime finishes, to leave those of us who were baffled by his move from Vélez to the United Arab Emirates… well, even more baffled, frankly. At least he’s getting back on track now.
In France, Bordeaux continue hot on Lyon’s heels and Fernando Cavenaghi, who’s earned himself the nickname Cavegol back in his homeland, is still a major factor behind their good season. He scored twice in the second half – the second a penalty – against Nancy to keep the Girondins on track should Lyon slip up (which of course won’t happen, but it’s the thought that counts).
In Spain, a still-Lionel-Messi-less Barcelona imploded from 2-0 up to lose 3-2 to Real Betis in Seville on Saturday, and leaders Real Madrid were able to capitalise and stretch their lead at the top by beating Sevilla 3-1 in the Bernabéu despite a deeply underwhelming performance. Gabriel Heinze opened the scoring with a header in the 7th minute, whilst Gonzalo Higuaín, who missed a lot of other chances, got the third with twenty-five minutes remaining.
In Portugal, there were goals from Lisandro López and a very late penalty from Lucho González to give Porto a 2-1 win over Belenenses. and Newell’s Old Boy’s former striker, Uruguayan Oscar Cardozo, got one for Benfica as they thrashed Paços de Ferreira 4-1 with a Rui Costa-inspired performance.
And MLS kicked off this weekend. Kansas City Wizards beat DC United 2-0 on Saturday night thanks to a goal from former Racing man Claudio López and an impressive performance from central midfielder Carlos Marinelli. Guillermo Barros Schelotto, meanwhile, started without truly shining for Columbus Crew as they beat Toronto FC 2-0 away from home.