Lionel Messi returned to the scoreboard at La Romareda on Saturday. Having hit a hat trick on his last appearance in Real Zaragoza’s stadium, he scored twice this time to win the game for Barcelona 2-0. There were further goals from Argentines in Spain and France, but elsewhere in Europe it was a relatively quiet weekend until Ezequiel Lavezzi hit an ultimately in vain – but no less inspired – chip even as his Napoli side lost to Milan, which you can see here along with the best of the rest from our normal contributors in Portugal, Mexico, the USA, Australia and Israel. And a congratulations to Mauro Boselli, who on Tuesday scored his first goal in England as Wigan Athletic beat Swansea City 2-0 in the League Cup.
In England on Saturday, Franco Di Santo set up Colombian Hugo Rodallega to score for Wigan Athletic in their 1-1 draw at home to Bolton Wanderers. He was offside, but wasn’t spotted before sliding a fine pass in for the midfielder to finish. On Tuesday, his clubmate Mauro Boselli scored his first goal in England to put Wigan 1-0 up in their 2-0 League Cup win over Swansea City.
In Spain, Saturday saw Messi score twice against Zaragoza as Barcelona ran out 2-0 winners. Gonzalo Higuaín also got on the scoresheet, bagging the opener in Real Madrid’s 6-1 win over Racing de Santander. On Sunday, Jesús Dátolo notched one for Espanyol to open the scoring against Levante. Espanyol eventually won 2-1.
Real Zaragoza 0 – 2 Barcelona (Messi scores both goals)
Italy was a quiet country for Argentine celebrations during the weekend, but on Monday evening Ezequiel Lavezzi scored a delightfully cheeky chip late on at home to Milan. It was in a losing cause, since Napoli still lost 2-1 to Milan, but even so the goal takes some beating.
Lavezzi’s goal vs Milan
Andrés Madrid was handed a rare start for Sporting Braga on Saturday evening, and delivered a solid display in the centre of midfield. The former Platense and Gimnasia La Plata man has struggled to hold down a first team place in the last year or so, but has nevertheless developed into a reliable squad player. Braga’s ongoing injury problems should ensure that the twenty-nine year old sees some action this season.
Benfica travelled to Portimonense with four Argentines in their squad, with Pablo Aimar, Nico Gaitán and Javier Saviola all starting for the Eagles. After their midweek exertions in Lyon, Benfica were entitled to be a little tired, but were more than good value for their 1-0 victory. Gaitán, who was sent off in that Champions League defeat after picking up a pair of idiotic yellow cards, looked particularly determined, and caught the eye with several penetrating runs down the right-hand side. Saviola also performed well, although he has yet to recover the prolific form which was so crucial to Benfica last season. Aimar had one of his quieter nights, and was marked closely throughout. The fourth Argentine, Franco Jara, was a late substitute, and had little impact on a finale which saw Benfica pressed back by their determined opponents. The former Arsenal player has in recent weeks been linked with a loan move in January, having found it difficult to establish a spot in Jorge Jesus’ first XI. Whether those rumours turn out to be true remains to be seen, but they will surely have put a number of Argentina’s finest on the alert.
The final week of the regular season saw some wild matches that came down to the wire – none more so than the meeting between Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids. Javier Morales provided excellent service from set pieces that created several opportunities for Real Salt Lake early on but a lack of finishing meant RSL found themselves 2-0 to Colorado going into injury time. After a silly mistake by Colorado’s goalkeeper allowed RSL to make it 2-1, RSL found themselves with a free kick outside the area. Again Morales provided a dangerous ball and Colorado was forced into pulling down Jamsion Olave for the equalizing penalty. Neither Fabian Espíndola nor Nelson González dressed for Real Salt Lake. Claudio López was an unused substitute for Colorado.
The Columbus Crew defeated the Philadelphia Union 3-1 in a game that saw Guillermo Barros Schelotto pitted against Eduardo Coudet. Schelotto played a brilliant through ball to Eddie Gaven and Coudet pulled him down near the edge of the area. The ref decided the foul occurred inside the box and Schelotto stepped up to score the ensuing spot kick for his 9th goal of the season. Schelotto then turned provider for the third goal as his pressure caused Philadelphia to turn the ball over deep in their end. Schelotto dribbled towards goal before dishing to an unmarked Andres Mendoza who calmly finished.
Pablo Hernández saw his blocked shot put away by his teammate to give DC United the early lead before they would eventually fall 3-2 to Toronto FC.
Tom Clark, whose blog is here, is as ever telling us about goings-on in Mexico.
On Saturday October 24, in week 13 of the Mexican Apertura, Tigres of Nueva Léon continued their late push to stay up – and to squeeze into the liguilla – by overcoming Pumas (UNAM) 2-0 en casa. The veteran Damián Alvarez put this one away with a goal in the 77th minute.
Another familiar Argentine, Alfredo Chango Moreno, lifting another relegation-threatened club on his shoulders, notched a brace (21st minute penalty, and a very pretty goal from open play in the 71st minute) to carry Atlas of Guadalajara to a precious 3-1 home win over Atlante.
Finally, on Sunday the 25th, Gabi Pereyra shocked Toluca in the high-altitude lair of their caldera with an 18th minute header to provide Puebla an early lead, but the Red Devils recovered to take a 2-1 win that keeps them on track for a spot in the liguilla, something this perennially strong club has performed so well in recent years as to regard pretty much as a renewable property. (Pereyra’s goal was his seventh of the torneo, a total that would have been higher had Gabi not blown a sitter that would have left the Camoteros equal on the day.)
This weekend again saw Marcos Flores in the thick of the action as Adelaide United maintained their unbeaten start to the A-League season in Australia with a 3-0 victory over Wellington Phoenix. Flores, who returned from injury, was involved in the lead up play for his team’s first goal and provided a sublime finish to score their second as the South Australian team ran over the top of their opponents in the last twenty minutes of their encounter at Hindmarsh Stadium.
Adelaide United 3 – 0 Wellington Phoenix
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