This will be a quick one, because I’ve left it late, but there’s just time to see who’s been scoring for which teams this weekend. A goalkeeping record has finally fallen in Mexico, Diego Milito won the Genova derby for his team, Real Madrid aren’t optimistic of their hopes against Lionel Messi’s Barcelona at the weekend… and Diego Maradona’s been conferring his blessing on Mother Theresa’s foundation in India. Sorry, I mean, paying his respects.
For Madrid, both Fernando Gago and Gonzalo Higuaín scored once each, but the defending champions still lost, 4-3 to Sevilla on Sunday. Manager Bernd Schuster got the mind games prior to this weekend’s gran clásico with Barcelona started by proclaiming defiantly: ‘it’s not possible for us to win in Camp Nou.’ That’s the spirit, Bernd! The previous evening, Barcelona had taken Valencia to pieces 4-0, with Thierry Henry getting a hat-trick and Lionel Messi having one of those quietly effective games which looked like he might’ve been sparing a bit of effort for bigger things. Was he?
Elsewhere in Spain, Maxi Rodríguez scored once and El Kun Agüero twice as Atlético de Madrid easily beat Sporting Gijón, 5-2 away. Atléti’s other two goals came from Independiente’s former striker, Uruguayan Diego Forlán.
In Italy, Milito headed the only goal of the game for Genoa, who won 1-0 away to Sampdoria. Milito is now the leading goalscorer in Serie A, but wasn’t the only Argentine goalscorer this weekend: Germán Denis got one for Napoli against Siena, and Walter Samuel scored the winner for Inter against Mauro Zárate and Juampi Carrizo’s Lazio. In France, on Friday night, Fernando Cavenaghi got the winner as Bordeaux beat Valenciennes 2-1 to move up to second in Ligue Un, whilst Alejandro Alonso scored an equaliser as Monaco drew 1-1 with Sochaux.
In Portugal, Lucho González got a late goal to put the icing on the cake of a 3-0 away win for Porto against Vitoria Setubal. In Greece, Fernando Belluschi got the only goal of the game as Olympiakos beat Levadiakos at home, and Ismael Blanco likewise scored the only goal – spookily, after the same number of minutes, 28 – for AEK Athens against Panthrakikos.
Maradona, who’s on a tour of India at the moment with his girlfriend Verónica Ojeda, visited the Mother Teresa Foundation on Monday, and is also expected to visit the home of Mohun Bagan, one of India’s oldest football clubs.
And in Mexico, the final of the Liguilla will be between Cruz Azul and Toluca. Gabriel Pereyra scored a consolation for Atlante against the former, who won 4-2 on aggregate after a 3-1 first leg win in their semi-final. Daniel Ludueña, meanwhile, set up a goal for Santos Laguna, who lost 2-1 (after a goalless first leg) to Toluca.
Toluca’s Argentine goalkeeper, Hernán Cristante, saw a record finally fall: he’s had a run of matches without conceding a goal which has set a new Mexican league record, but the goal Ludueña set up for Edgar Castillo in the 25th minute meant Cristante’s run was ended after 772 minutes unbeaten. If he picks himself up from that disappointment and helps his team to the title against Cruz Azul, it’ll be his fifth Mexican title.
As usual, thanks to Tom Clark for keeping me up-to-date with goings-on down Mexico way.
Sam–Always good to have your AA updates, especially so when the warm light from the lands of sun and shadow is coming through a flutter of blogged snowflakes. One small correction, though, in this week’s Mexico report: the wonderful “El Mystico” Pereyra did not score, but set up, Atlante’s goal in the semifinal return leg–as I wrote you a few days back:
“Cruz Azul, 4-2 aggregate victors over Atlante, will be one liguilla finalist. Atlante fought hard in the return leg at home, but facing a 3-1 deficit proved too much for them. Gabi Pereyra played his heart out against his former club, assisting on Atlante’s one goal, but also narrowly missing a second half chance that would have made things close.” The brainy pass was indeed Gabi’s, but the finish belonged to the slick Venezuelan striker Giancarlo Maldonado.
Also, a couple of bright AA notes you didn’t mention from the previous weekend’s Serie A action: in Inter 2 Napoli 1 (Nov. 30), the brilliant nonchalant backheel from Julio Cruz in the stunning lightning-quick three-touch buildup to Muntari’s goal (which proved to be the winner); and then LaVezzi’s well-taken second-half score for Napoli that nearly pulled them back into it. Sublime stuff in both cases. (And too, for completeness’ sake, there was a key penalty scored by Zarate in Lazio’s extra-time Coppa Italia win over AC Milan on Dec. 3.)
Not to fault you at all on your great coverage–with so many essential contributions from Argentine players all over the planet, it’s a wonder you manage to keep up with it all as well as you do!
Thanks for those corrections and additions, Tom. I need to try and stop doing AA in the particularly late hours of Monday night (I always regret doing so prior to my Tuesday evening salsa class…).