Before we begin, a quick feliz cumpleaños to Gabriel Batistuta, the all-time highest goalscorer in the history of the Argentine national team, who turned forty on Monday. There was no Argentine action from his old team Fiorentina on Sunday (they drew 2-2 away to Cagliari), but a move for his heir in the selección; after just six months, Hernán Crespo has swapped Genoa for Parma, his first European club. Elsewhere Emiliano Insúa helped Liverpool to a rare win, Lucas Barrios scored yet again even as his Dortmund side got torn to shreds, and Xerez – managed by Néstor Gorosito – got their first win under their new manager. Read all about it…
In England, Insúa’s long shot – which was deflected and went down as an own goal by Kevin Davies – set the seal on a 2-0 win over Bolton Wanderers at Anfield. It was the only Argentine goal of the weekend in the Premier League. Pablo Zabaleta had to be replaced injured in Manchester City’s clash with Portsmouth, in which Carlos Tevez also played. And Birmingham City drew 1-1 with Tottenham Hotspur – City are eager to sign Mauro Boselli from Estudiantes, but the deal hadn’t gone through by the time the English transfer window closed on Monday afternoon.
The Portuguese Liga saw a turnaround in fortunes for Pablo Aimar. In midweek he’d been fined €750 (a princely sum for a top flight footballer in western Europe) for taking a dive in an attempt to win a penalty back in October, but on Saturday he opened the scoring for Benfica, who went on to beat Guimarães 3-1. It was the only Argentine goal of the weekend, although the Colombian former River Plate striker Radamel Falcao García scored twice in Porto’s 4-0 away win over Nacional de Madeira.
Benfica 3 – 1 Guimarães (Aimar’s goal first)
Germany saw Lucas Barrios score his tenth goal of the season in the Bundesliga, even though his team Borussia Dortmund lost heavily, 4-1 to Stuttgart. He’s among the top scorers in the German top flight – not bad for a player who in his most recent spell in Argentina had just one professional goal to his name at Tiro Federal!
In La Liga Gorosito’s Xerez get their first win under him – and only their second of the league season – in only his second match in charge, beating Mallorca 2-1 at home. Juan Pablo Carrizo kept goal throughout Real Zaragoza’s 3-1 away win over Tenerife (Leonardo Ponzio played most of the match before being replaced in the second half). Sevilla beat Valencia 2-1: Diego Perotti helped set the first goal up, whilst Ever Banega and Alejandro Domínguez both came off the bench for Valencia. Barcelona won without Lionel Messi shining for a change, and for Real Madrid Gonzalo Higuaín is injured. Fernando Gago’s transfer to Manchester City didn’t go through in time to beat the deadline, so the midfielder will remain in Madrid for the rest of the season. What will that do for his World Cup hopes?
As well as Crespo’s move back to his first (European) love in Italy, there was another transfer for a Serie A side involving an Argentine side. Centre forward Mariano Pavone became the twelfth (count ’em) Argentine in Catania’s squad, after transferring from Real Betis of the Spanish second division.
In Mexico, Argentines made up for the quietness of last weekend whilst the country’s footballers paid tribute to Paraguayan star Salvador Cabañas, who amazingly not only regained conciousness on Sunday, just under a week after being shot in the head, but actually talked to his family and watched his team, América, play on the TV. Over to Tom Clark…
The shock of the shooting of the great Paraguayan delantero of Club América, Salvador Cabañas, overshadowed events on the pitch in the third weekend of the Mexican Clausura.
As Chava clung to life and miraculously began to recover despite the bullet lodged in his brain, play resumed on Saturday the 30th. The demonstrative performance of the day was Pachuca’s summary 5-1 dismissal of Atlante en casa, keyed by the Tuzos‘ latest effective Argentine connection: punishing their fellow countryman Federico Vilar, who struggled between the sticks for the Potros de Hierro, Darío Cvitanich, busy up front, and Damián Manso, crafting from midfield, were the figures of the day. Cvitanich headed home a Manso corner (his first Mexican goal) to open the scoring at 15 minutes, and at 36 minutes the tie was put out of reach for good when Cvitanich returned the favour by supplying Manso smartly, for an equally smart finish.
Pachuca 5 – 1 Atlante (Cvitanich set up by Manso first; Manso’s goal second)
The same day, Neri Cardozo, who was able to manage only one goal in 28 appearances last year for Jaguares de Chiapas, matched that total in his third appearance for Monterrey, putting in a 61st minute tally that proved all his new club would need as the defending champions, playing at home, stopped Cruz Azul 2-0.
On Sunday emotion swept the canyonesque Azteca as Club América hosted Indios de Juárez. The veteran captain of the Águilas, Pavel Pardo, addressed the throng, honouring his felled teammate. América then took the field with ten men as Cabañas’ front-line replacement, Enrique Esqueda, waited briefly to come into the action. A beautifully weighted Rolfi Montenegro pass to Esqueda in the 10th minute provided the only goal of the day in a victory dedicated to Cabañas.
Elsewhere on Sunday, in a duel of two clubs led by Argentine managers, Ricardo La Volpe’s Atlas of Guadalajara, playing away, surprised Carlos Ischia’s Santos 2-1 on the strength of excellent work from Darío Botinelli, who arrowed in a 10th minute corner (to Miguel Zepeda) for the first Atlas goal and then drew, and converted, a 45th minute penalty to seal the victory.
You can follow the Clausura and the Argentine sides in the 2010 Copa Libertadores via HEGS on Twitter (including updates during and between matches and similar stories that might not go up on the site until later). I’m slowly gaining followers, but if you’ve not signed up yet you can do so here.