A very late Argentines Abroad this week, because I was in Manchester over the weekend and didn’t get home until Tuesday night. One advantage of this is that we saw a very mixed midweek lot of action. In England it was a bad night for Argentines in the FA Cup – Pablo Zabaleta and Julio Speroni both going out – but those playing English sides in knockout competition had some luck, with Diego Milito and Esteban Cambiasso scoring for Internazionale, who beat Chelsea 2-1 in the European Cup. Over the weekend there were Argentine scorers in Italy, Spain, France, Portugal and Mexico among others. Read all about it!
To take the midweek matches first, Zabaleta was booked for Manchester City as they went out of the FA Cup in their fifth round replay against Stoke City, with Stoke winning through 3-1 after extra time. In the same competition, Julian Speroni kept goal for Crystal Palace away to Aston Villa, but his side were beaten by the same scoreline (this one was in normal time, though). Also on Wednesday night, Milito’s and Cambiasso’s goals gave Inter a 2-1 advantage from their home leg against Chelsea in the European Cup round of 16, whilst Diego Perotti helped Sevilla to a 1-1 draw away to CKSA in the cold of Moscow. Tuesday saw Lionel Messi put in a quiet peformance, and Gabriel Milito play the last half hour, as holders Barcelona drew 1-1 away to Stuttgart.
Internazionale 2 – 1 Chelsea (Milito’s goal first, Cambiasso’s third)
And so to the weekend. In Italy, Roberto Palacio scored for Genoa with a diving header to put the seal on a 3-0 win over Udinese. Inter’s weekend match wasn’t as successful as Wednesday night’s would be, with two players – Colombian ex-San Lorenzo defender Iván Córdoba and Walter ‘The Wall’ Samuel – seeing red in a 0-0 draw with Sampdoria in the San Siro. There was also a 1-0 win for Nicolás Burdisso’s Roma over a Catania side who fielded eight Argentines in the starting eleven: Mariano Andújar; Nicolás Spolli; Pablo Alvarez; Matías Silvestre; Mariano Izco; Adrián Ricchiuti; Cristian Llama and Maxi López.
La Liga saw goals from Gonzalo Higuaín for Real Madrid – he notched two in a 6-2 win over Villarreal – and Pablo Piatti, as well as one for Perotti on Saturday. Piatti’s bided his time for his first big headline moment since his 2008 move from Estudiantes to Almería, but his late goal gave Almería a 1-0 victory over Atlético de Madrid, for whom Sergio Agüero was rested. Hernán Pellerano and Leonardo Borzani also played for Almería. Perotti’s goal was the final one in a 3-1 away win for Sevilla over Real Mallorca and is the latest triumph of a season which has seen the wide man – who didn’t make it out of the Boca youth team and moved to Sevilla from B Metropolitano side Deportivo Morón – force his way into contention for a spot in the World Cup squad. On Monday Alejandro Domínguez, who’s just moved from Russian side Rubin Kazan to Valencia, set David Villa up for the opener and saw a shot of his own cleared off the line on his debut – Valencia won 2-1 over Getafe.
Piatti vs Atlético
Perotti vs Mallorca
In France, Olympique Marseilles claimed a 3-1 victory against Nancy in spite of Gabriel Heinze’s return to first team action after a month and a bit out injured. Heinze, of course, is a near certainty for a place in South Africa, but his clubmate Lucho González, who for some reason isn’t, set up one of Mamadou Niang’s hat trick. There was a goal elsewhere for Lisandro López (another player Maradona doesn’t like), who came on in the 64th minute with Lyon 3-0 up against Sochaux, and made it 4-0 in the 80th minute.
The Portuguese Liga saw a 5-1 win for third-placed Porto over second-placed Braga. Fernando Belluschi, the former River Plate midfield orchestrator who’s had a quiet start to his time in Portugal, scored one after coming off the bench, whilst Tomás Costa and Diego Valeri were also second half subs. Mariano González was the only Argentine to play from the start for the winners, though Paulo Rosales started for Braga. Tuesday night saw Benfica claim a Europa League win at home to Hertha Berlin by a score of 4-0, with Pablo Aimar getting the first for the Aguias.
And we finish off as usual in Mexico, where Tom Clark’s been keeping an eye on proceedings for us. Over to you, Tom…
Plenty of activity this week in the Mexican torneo, with two sets of fixtures.
In a midweek round played on February 17, Rolfi Montenegro banged home a header for América, but it was too little too late in a 3-1 defeat at Toluca. Also wasted in a losing cause was a fine effort by Martín Bravo of Pumas (UNAM), who scored one and made one (for Israel Castro) in a 3-2 defeat at Querétaro. Rubens Sambueza’s two assists, and a Mauro Cejas goal, proved not quite anough for Estudiantes Tecos, as they went down 4-3 at home to reigning champions Monterrey — whose battling Neri Cardozo was put out of action late on by a nasty kick to the head. Meanwhile Darío Botinelli, having a fine season for Atlas, put in a tiro potente in a runaway 7-1 home victory over Indios de Juárez.
Botinelli scored again, a blistering golazo from well outside the area, on Saturday the 20th, but it was not enough to spare the Zorros a 3-1 defeat at San Luis. On the same day the resurgent and recuperating Neri Cardozo, looking a bit piratical with a black bandage wrapped round his injured cabeza, turned a difficult struggle with Querétaro with a lovely one-time strike at 81 minutes that opened the floodgates to a 3-0 Monterrey home triumph.
On Sunday the multiple talents of Lucas Lobos enabled Tigres to pull off a 2-2 draw away to América in the canyonesque Azteca. A beautifully weighted Lobos cross produced the first Tigres goal (by Jesús Molina), and a wicked 71st minute Lobos free kick adroitly tucked inside the left post secured the point for the visitors.
Club América vs Tigres (a very long video, but by far the best picture quality I could find)
No less impressive on the same day was the work of another gifted Argentine midfielder, Daniel Ludueña. Excellent individual work by Ludueña concluding in a crisp finish opened the scoring for Santos at home to Estudiantes Tecos, and as his club worked back from a two-goal deficit (built partly on a tidy Tecos opener from Mauro Cejas), Ludueña pulled off the play of the match, an amazing sliding lofted center from the end line to set up Juan Carlos Leaño for the equalizer in a 3-3 draw. The Argentine winner of the day meanwhile came from Martin Bravo, who made space for himself with a twisting run and then struck with a 68th minute rocket from distance to give Pumas (UNAM) a 1-0 home victory over Atlante.
Thank you Tom. Last but not least, HEGS sends its good wishes to former Newell’s Old Boys centre back Héctor Gaitán, who after a couple of years in Bolivia moved last month to Peruvian side CNI. Gaitán was attacked with a bottle in a restaurant in Iquitos, his new hometown, by two men who reportedly had first encountered him in a nightclub the previous week. He’s been left with deep cuts in his back. ¡Ánimo, Héctor!
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.