…Plus the European Cup semi-final second legs. That’s an easy one to get out the way quickly: Carlos Tevez didn’t feature as Manchester United booked their place in the final, whilst Lionel Messi had a quiet game for Barcelona but set up a last-gasp equaliser for Andrés Iniesta to put Barcelona through on away goals against Chelsea, for whom Franco Di Santo didn’t get off the bench.
Back on Saturday Messi had a rather better game, scoring twice and unveiling a t-shirt advertising his new charitable foundation as Barcelona tore Real Madrid to piece in the Bernabéu to all but seal the Spanish First Division title. Gonzalo Higuaín had opened the match for the hosts with a great headed goal, but the final score was Real Madrid 2 – 6 Barcelona. Elsewhere in La Liga things were rather quiet. Maxi Rodríguez set up Diego Forlán for the first of the Uruguayan’s two goals for Atlético de Madrid, who beat Real Betis 2-0 away with Sergio Agüero, injured in training during the week, watching from the subs’ bench. Agüero did, all the same, replace his compatriot with sixteen minutes left.
In Serie A, there was one match dominated by Argentines. Genoa beat Sampdoria 3-1 in the Luigi Ferraris with Diego Milito bagging a hat-trick for the hosts. As if that weren’t enough, former Deportivo Morón man Hugo Campagnaro scored the visitors’ consolation – an equaliser on the stroke of half time – before getting himself sent off in the 90th minute for fighting with Genoa’s Brazilian midfielder Thiago Motta (who also saw red). Internazionale’s contingent of Argentines this week consisted of Walter Samuel, Esteban Cambiasso and Javier Zanetti, with Hernán Crespo and Nicolás Burdisso sent on in the second half. Another Argentine could be heading Inter’s way; Florentino Pérez has announced that if he’s re-elected as Real Madrid president in the summer he’ll go after Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Inter’s quoted cost? €50 million plus Gonzalo Higuaín (yes, really).
In Russia, former Quilmes and River Plate forward Alejandro Domínguez hit a hat trick for Rubin Kazan as they crushed Saturn Moscow 5-0 away from home, whilst Leandro Fernández – also a former River man, and prior to them with Newell’s Old Boys – got Dynamo Moscow’s second in a 2-0 away win in the derby against Spartak.
In Greece, Diego Quintana got one in Skoda Xanthi F.C.’s 4-1 win at home to Iraklis, whilst a Luciano Galletti penalty rounded off a 2-0 away win for Olympiakos over Thrasivoulos.
And finally to Mexico, where the stadia were still empty but the matches were full of Argentine goalscorers. Darío Botinelli scored little more than a consolation for Atlas, who lost 4-2 away to Monarcos Morelia, but Alfredo Moreno got what could be a vital equaliser for relegation-threatened Necaxa, who drew 1-1 at home to Atlante. Daniel Ludueña and Walter Jiménez both scored for Santos Laguna, who saw off San Luis 3-1, whilst Gabriel Caballero and Damián Alvarez scored as Pachuca romped home 5-2 against Jaguares de Chiapas.
On Thursday evening I’ll be putting up details of how you can nominate players for the 2008-2009 HEGS award for Best Argentine Abroad, which this year will be run in conjunction with Seba and John over at the superb Mundo Albiceleste. Please don’t send any nominations in yet – I’m setting up a dedicated email address for the awards this year and we won’t be taking any nominations until Thursday night at the earliest!
Thanks as ever to the indefatigable Tom Clark for his confidence that swine flu can’t be caught through one’s TV screen, and keeping us up to speed on the Mexican action