Is it December already? Then it must be time for Argentines across Europe to wonder what possessed them to move to a continent where Christmas is celebrated in a cold climate. The performances are still decent, though. Gonzalo Higuaín scored again for Real Madrid as Lionel Messi ensured Barcelona kept their noses in front; Carlos Tevez had a sterling game for Manchester City against Chelsea, and Javier Saviola scored an absolute beauty for Benfica. Lisandro López, meanwhile, had a sickening weekend with Lyons. Read about those and more right here in a slightly delayed Argentines Abroad.
In Spain, Lionel Messi scored twice for Barcelona and Gonzalo Higuaín once for Madrid as the top two both won. Higuaín scored Madrid’s second, to equalise in the 73rd minute of a tense match against Almería (for whom Pablo Piatti featured), but the merengue eventually won 4-2 thanks to a late Cristiano Ronaldo double. Messi, meanwhile, scored in the 27th and 79th minutes as Barcelona won 3-1 away to Deportivo de La Coruña to remain top of La Liga.
In Saturday’s other game, Sergio Agüero scored for Atlético de Madrid, who beat Xerez 2-0 away. On Tuesday night Agüero was injured as Atlético slumped at home 3-0 to Porto (Colombian Radamel Falcao García, until recently of River Plate, scored a goal and Diego Valeri played most of the match) to go out of the European Cup – they’ll be in the Europa League in the new year.
Deportivo 1 – 3 Barcelona (Messi’s goals first and third)
In England, only Carlos Tevez gave a performance of note: he helped his former club from across the city by scoring one and being instrumental throughout as Manchester City beat Chelsea 2-1 at Eastlands to cut the leaders’ cushion to two points ahead of Manchester United. In Portugal on Sunday, Javier Saviola scored again for Benfica, stepping in from the right and lifting the ball beautifully over the goalkeeper. As Newell’s Old Boys’ Paraguayan former striker Oscar Cardozo scored a hat trick alongside him, Benfica ran out 4-0 winners over Académica de Coimbra.
Saviola vs Coimbra
Germany saw was another goal for Lucas Barrios, who’s adapted fantastically to life in Dortmund – he scored the second in a 4-0 evisceration of Nurnberg. Diego Klimowicz didn’t have such a good day, getting sent off in the 81st minute as his side, Bochum, drew 1-1 away to Stuttgart (the equaliser came after he’d left the pitch).
Italy’s Serie A only had the one Argentine goal this weekend: Rodrigo Palacio put Genoa on their way to a 2-2 draw at home to Parma. Hernán Crespo was a token substitution for the hosts, coming on with five minutes to play. On Saturday, ‘el Inter de los argentinos‘ (as the Argentine press know them) lost a pulsating match 2-1 away to Juventus.
France saw a goal from Luis González on Saturday as Marseilles visited Nice and won 3-1; Lucho put them 2-1 up with just under quarter-of-an-hour to play. He scored again last night as his side lost 3-1 to Real Madrid, crashing out of the European Cup. On Sunday, his former Porto team-mate had been arguably even more unfortunate; Lisandro López scored a hat-trick but finished on the losing side. Having gone 3-1 up when he completed his personal treble in the 35th minute away to Lille, Olympique Lyonnais contrived to lose 4-3.
Lille 4 – 3 Lyons (Lyons are in white; Licha scores all their goals)
Elsewhere in South America, Ezequiel Miralles scored again for Colo Colo. He put them ahead in the 9th minute of a 2-2 draw against Universidad Católica in the first leg of the championship final; the return is today at 17:00 local time (18:00 Argentine time; 21:00 GMT). And in Ecuador, Iván Borghello almost derailed his side’s title march: he was sent off as his Deportivo Quito beat Cuenca 3-2 at home, for a 4-3 aggregate victory, to claim their second consecutive Ecuadorian title.
And last but not least, Tom Clark’s here as ever to keep us up to date with the Mexican playoffs. Take it away, Tom.
At the weekend Cruz Azul and Monterrey went through to the Apertura 2009 final. The decisive goal in Cruz Azul’s closely fought 2-1 home victory over Morelia (after a first-leg scoreless draw) came from Emanuel Tito Villa. After winning the league scoring title handily with 17 goals by early November, the big self-effacing centre-forward had gone 336 minutes without scoring. By 64″ into the return leg of the semi-final, with the score standing at 1-1, it looked as if Villa might never score again. Then he stepped up to take a free kick. His shot perforated the wall and tucked in at the left post. And his long drought was forgotten.
Cruz Azul 2 – 1 Monarcas Morelia (Villa’s goal last)