There’s no point doing this any more, is there? It’s the same every week. It really is most tedious. Carlos Tevez impressed for Manchester City on Sunday, Gonzalo Higuaín scored again for Real Madrid, Lucas Barrios got another two for Borussia Dortmund, there were Argentine scorers aplenty in Italy and Mexico, and Greece also saw Argentine celebrations, whilst the Netherlands witnessed an injury to Sergio Romero and Chile saw an argument between team mates over a penalty. But none of that matters, for those after spectacle and beauty. What does is this: for the second time in a week, Lionel Messi scored a hat trick of utter brilliance to win a match for Barcelona, and even had the generosity to gift his profligate strike partner a penalty to clinch it. I can’t describe how good Messi’s second goal in particular was. You must watch the video.
So let’s take Spain first. Messi‘s hat trick this week was scored away to Real Zaragoza, and after hitting three himself he also helped the disappointing Zlatan Ibrahimovic onto the scoresheet by being fouled in the box and letting the Swede take the resulting penalty kick. Messi’s third – which would have been the highlight of any mortal player’s performance but was overshadowed by a truly out-of-this-world second – was his eighth in three matches over the previous seven days (and his eleventh in his last five), and his 25th of the domestic season. The match ended 2-4 to Barcelona, who thus maintain pressure on Real Madrid at the top of La Liga. Messi celebrated with Gabriel Milito, who continues his return from injury and has been assured that Barça will do all they can to ensure he’s ready to play at the World Cup. Madrid also won, 3-1 against Sporting Gijon, thanks in part to Gonzalo Higuaín who got the third goal to kill the game off, and is only three goals behind his international team mate Messi in the race for the Pichichi (the award given to La Liga’s top scorer).
Real Zaragoza 2 – 4 Barcelona (Lionel Messi’s latest masterclass)
In England, Pablo Zabaleta took part in a move that was finished by Carlos Tevez as Manchester City beat Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage to keep their European Cup qualification in their own hands. Elsewhere on Sunday, Maxi Rodríguez got into the bulldog English spirit of the Premier League by haring about like loon closing balls down after having to have his head bandaged. Unfortunately for him, that was about the most positive thing any of Liverpool’s Argentine contingent managed – Javier Mascherano gave away a penalty and Emiliano Insúa had his hands full coping with Antonio Valencia as Manchester United won 2-1 to stay in the driving seat in their quest to gain an English record 19th league title. In the second division, Jonás Gutiérrez was in action just round the corner from HEGS House, and scored a goal as Newcastle drew 2-2 away to managerless Bristol City.
Fulham 1 – 2 Manchester City (Match Of The Day 2 highlights – quite a long video)
In the Bundesliga, Lucas Barrios is hopeful of becoming the first Argentine to finish the season as Germany’s top goalscorer. His two strikes on Saturday in Dortmund’s 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen brought him to 15 for the season, just one behind top scorer Stefan Keißling. In the Greek Super League Ismael Blanco scored the only goal of the match after 16 minutes to help AEK Athens to an away win over PAOK Salonika. Sergio Romero was injured playing for AZ against Sparta Rotterdam in the Netherlands’ Eredivisie, and had to be taken off after just quarter of an hour, but the injury fortunately isn’t thought to be too serious.
Borussia Dortmund 3 – 0 Bayer Leverkusen (Barrios scoring the first two)
In Serie A, there were Argentine goalscorers in crucial matches to the title race, as well as one from a less heralded ex-pat. Mario Santana, of San Lorenzo for two years until 2001 and now with his fourth Italian club, scored a brilliant opener for Fiorentina as they beat Genoa 3-0. Diego Milito got a penalty in Inter’s 1-1 away draw to Javier Pastore‘s Palermo, and on Sunday there were another two Argentine scorers: Hugo Campagnaro helped Inter out, scoring to put Napoli ahead against Milan in a match that ended 1-1 in the San Siro, and Maxi López continued to make the most of his second spell in western Europe, getting a penalty for Catania in a 1-1 draw away to Chievo Verona.
Fiorentina 3 – 0 Genoa (Santana opening the scoring)
The most bizarre moment of the week came in Chile, where Ezequiel Miralles got into an argument with a team mate. Miralles is the normal penalty taker for Colo Colo, but when his side were awarded one right before half time of their 6-1 win over La Serena it was Roberto Cereda who grabbed the ball and put it in the net, Miralles already having scored. Arguing with his team mate as he left the pitch, Miralles didn’t come out for the second half and his fellow Argentine, club manager manager Hugo Tocalli has told the press he’ll be having words.
Colo Colo 6 – 1 La Serena (Miralles’ goal is second, I was sadly unable to find an embeddable video of the argument)
Further north in Latin America, The Great Messi’s cousin has been impressing his own locals recently, amongst others. Here’s Tom Clark.
On Saturday the 20th a goal by Alfredo Chango Moreno helped put San Luis in position to take a point at home from Toluca: until, that is, the Red Devils pulled off their first away win of the torneo, 3-2, on a stoppage time goal.
The same afternoon Cruz Azul continued their remarkable resurgence after a miserable start, easily grabbing their sixth win on the trot, at home to struggling Tigres de Nueva León. Contributions by the oddly mixed Argentine duo playing up front – a very small very young man and a towering veteran – were once again key to the Cementeros‘ success: Lio Messi’s suddenly-famous cousin Maxi Biancucchi scored again; and the Apertura’s top scorer Emmanuel Tito Villa, once more showing he is back in top form, scored in his fourth consecutive match to bring his total for the Clausura to five.
Cruz Azul 4 – 0 Tigre (Biancucchi second; Villa third)
On Sunday the 21st a penalty converted by sometime Argentine Darío Cvitanich earned Pachuca a point in a 2-2 draw away to América. And on the same day two highly skilled Argentines were central to Rubén Omar Romano’s in-form Santos’ 2-1 home win over Puebla. Walter El Llorito Jiménez supplied a perfect ball for colombiano Carlos Darwin Quintero to score the Guerreros‘ first on the day, and the goal that proved the winner came from excellent individual work and a typically clinical finish from the redoubtable Daniel Hachita Ludueña, whose strong play in recent weeks has been instrumental in the rise of Romano’s club to the top of their group.
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.