HEGS Award voting season (nominations to the address in that post please) got underway with another championship for a team with Argentine representation this weekend, as Porto claimed their fourth consecutive Portuguese crown. Elsewhere Martín Demichelis celebrated the birth of his child with a rare goal in Germany, and Hernán Crespo started for Internazionale! Lionel Messi’s Barcelona, though, will have to wait one more week before they can celebrate reclaiming the Spanish title.
Lisandro López, Mariano González and Tomás Costa all started for Porto, the latter being switched for Ernesto Farías at half time, as Burno Alves’s goal gave the northerners another title in what’s becoming a bit of a dull race these days. Benfica have had a dreadful season and are still sweating on a European place, but former Newell’s striker, Paraguayan Óscar Cardozo, scored twice to give them a 2-2 draw at home to Trofense and ensure Pablo Aimar and Ángel Di María’s side are still in with a chance of qualifying.
Bayern München are still in a ridiculously close battle for the Bundesliga title (and if you’ve not seen the German league table, you really should take a look at it with three matches to play, including a midweek round kicking off this evening), but two Argentines kept them in with a shout on Saturday in a 3-1 away win over Energie Cottbus. José Sosa put the champions into the lead halfway through the first half, and Martín Demichelis, a week after the birth of his son, scored the second in the 62nd minute.
Hernán Crespo has already announced he’ll be leaving Internazionale at the end of the season come what may, but José Mourinho chose this weekend to give him his first start in absolutely ages thanks to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s suspension. He scored the opening goal in a 2-2 draw away to Chievo Verona, when a win would have handed Inter the title. There was a penalty shout for a foul on Javier Zanetti, but whilst his team-mates were enraged the man himself insisted, ‘he didn’t touch me.’
In Spain, Barcelona were a minute away from celebrating the league title, beating Villarreal 3-2 the day after Real Madrid, Higuaín, Gago, Heinze and all, had been humped 3-0 by Valencia. Their celebrations were spoiled somewhat when Joseba Llorente scored his second of the match to make it 3-3 in stoppage time, so Lionel Messi and company are now just 8 points clear, with 9 to play for. Wednesday night sees them play the final of the Copa del Rey in Valencia, against Athletic Bilbao. It could be the first part of a treble.
The success story of the weekend in La Liga was for Atlético de Madrid, who were 2-0 down and playing with only ten men at home to Espanyol, before their former Independiente players ran riot. Uruguayan Diego Forlán scored a bombazo after half time to give the hosts a hope, before Sergio Agüero got the equaliser and Forlán won it at the death. It was also Atléti goalkeeper Leo Franco’s 150th match in La Liga.
In England, the headlines were dominated by Carlos Tevez’s announcement, in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, that he’ll almost certainly be leaving Manchester United in the summer, not for money and not even because he wants out, but because they’ve not offered him a contract and he’s not had any explanation for his lack of playing time this season. On the very day the interview was published, he played all 90 minutes of the Manchester derby, and scored an absolute pearler to make it 2-0 in the 45th minute, celebrating by cupping his ears in the direction of the directors’ box as 73,000 fans chanted his name. Monday’s Metro said there were, ‘rumours he may have been trying to make a point to his employers.’ Gosh, d’you reckon?
Juan Carlos Meneguez looked lively again for West Bromwich Albion as they beat Wigan Athletic. They now actually stand a chance of staying up. They couldn’t, could they? Javier Mascherano and Emiliano Insúa’s Liverpool kept up the pressure on Manchester United with an easy 3-0 win away to West Ham United on Saturday, and on Monday evening Jonás Gutiérrez played 65 minutes as Newcastle United overcame the dreadful misadvantage of being managed by Alan Shearer to beat Middlesbrough 3-1 in a crucial relegation battle. Fabricio Coloccini, who’s spent most of the season doing a great impression of an absolutely useless defender, sat on the bench throughout.
And in Mexico Damián Álvarez got the ball rolling as Pachuca battered Atlas 5-0 away from home, opening the scoring in the 49th minute. Daniel Ludueña got a consolation for Santos Laguna, who lost 2-1 away to Atlante, and in one of the matches of the weekend, Javier Gandolfi put Chiapas into the lead in the 14th minute, but they ended up drawing 3-3 with Cruz Azul. Next up in the Mexican Primera División are the playoffs.