Lucho González scored in France, whilst there was a goal for Javier Saviola in Portugal and Argentine scorers on both sides as Internazionale played Parma in Serie A. There was also the small matter of Lionel Messi for once failing to score in the Spanish top flight. But he put in a decent enough performance all the same…
In France, Lucho opened the scoring for Olympique Marseille as they beat Montpellier 4-0, a result that leaves Marseille top of the table on goal difference ahead of Lille. In England, meanwhile, Mauro Boselli missed a penalty as Wigan Athletic slumped to a 3-1 defeat away to West Ham United.
In Serie A, Hernán Crespo scored twice but his Parma side were undone all the same in a 5-2 defeat in Milan to Internazionale, for whom Javier Zanetti played the whole ninety minutes and Esteban Cambiasso did likewise, also scoring the third goal for the defending Italian champions. Former Boca, Banfield and Liverpool defender Gabriel Paletta was also a key figure for the defeated visitors.
Internazionale 5 – 2 Parma
The biggest game of the weekend in Portugal saw FC Porto travel to Sporting in Lisbon, where the two heavyweights played out an entertaining 1-1 draw. Fernando Belluschi was the sole Argentine starter, and the former River man had a quiet evening by his own lofty standards, as Porto were pressed out of the game in the first half, and Belluschi’s midfield partner João Moutinho outshone him in the second period. The dismissal of centre-back Maicon saw Nico Otamendi thrown into the fray after 72 minutes, and the summer signing acquitted himself well as the league leaders held on for a point. Given that Maicon was shown a straight red, it looks as if Otamendi can expect more playing time over the next couple of rounds, as well as in the Europa League on Thursday.
After being dumped out of the Champions League by Hapoel, Benfica were desperate to get their campaign back on track at Beira Mar on Sunday evening. Jorge Jesus rung the changes and with Pablo Aimar unfit, only Nico Gaitán and Javier Saviola started for the Eagles as Salvio dropped to the bench. It was the latter who made the greatest impression, buoyed by the return from injury of his partner (and former Newell’s forward) Óscar Cardozo. The Paraguayan scored a brace and created the third for Saviola, who has endured a fairly barren spell in front of goal. Gaitán completed a fairly unremarkable 90 minutes, whilst Saviola was replaced by his compatriot Franco Jara after 85. Salvio also made a late entrance for the Eagles.
There was only one Argentine in action in Australia this weekend as Marcos Flores again starred for the second placed Adelaide United. Flores, who has had a dip in form of late, was back to his best as he provided a sublime chip for team mate Paul Reid to slam home the opening goal for the home team as they ran out 2-1 winners.
Adelaide United 2 – 1 Gold Coast United
Tom Clark, whose blog is here, has been keeping an eye on all things Mexican for us.
In the semifinals of the Mexican liguillla, played on the 26th and 29th November, there were some well-contested encounters, but in the end things went pretty much as expected. Santos Laguna came out of their first leg away to Club América with a 2-1 advantage, which they made hold up in the vuelta – an exciting match that ended in a 3-3 draw, Santos thus advancing on aggregate 5-4.
Vicente Matías Vuoso brought the Aguilas level at 2-2 with this strike in the 68th minute of the return leg. But it would prove not enough. (The Vuoso goal comes at 3″ of the clip.)
In the other semifinal, Monterrey came away from the first leg at Pumas (UNAM) happy with a goalless draw that would play to their advantage as the higher-classified club. Back home, they held on to the advantage, increased it with two minutes to play on a heroic individual goal by the Chilean danger man Humberto El Chupete Suazo, and then Nery Cardozo set the icing on the cake for the Rayados with this goal on the last kick of the match, securing the 2-0 victory; and so Monterrey swept into the gran final. (Nery’s goal comes at the end of the highlight clip.)
And so it’s on to this week’s final.
Boaz Magal fills us in on the Israeli league.
The highlight from the Israeli league is Pedro Galván scoring a two goals for his team Bnei Yehuda Tel Aviv in their 2-0 win against Macabi Petach Tikva. the goals can be seen here:
And last, but by no means least, David Cartlidge, a contributor to Spanish Football Info, lets us know what went on in Spain – including a performance from a certain someone in the planet’s biggest match of the last few days.
I felt heartily sorry for the teams playing on Saturday and Sunday this weekend, as it seemed everyone was feasting on the build-up to that small game at the Camp Nou on Monday evening – more on that later.
On Saturday however, Atlético de Madrid saw themselves on the wrong side of a 2-3 defeat by high-flying Espanyol. Atlético’s second goal was scored by Sergio Agüero, after the in-form striker had latched onto a divine clipped pass by Diego Forlán to put away his tenth goal of the season with ease. Agüero had fire in his belly, and when a melée was sparked on the touchline by his manager, he sprinted over and landed a sly kick on Espanyol’s Luis Garcia. Espanyol are being guided by Mauricio Pochettino, and are causing quite a stir in La Liga so this performance will only further accelerate their European qualification claims. Juan Forlín put in another solid display at the back, while Italian-Argentine striker Pablo Osvaldo scored an absolute peach of a volley.
Almería lost 1-2 in Valencia, but they never gave up despite being two goals behind at one point. Super sub Leo Ulloa grabbed another goal for Almería via a cameo appearance from the bench. Tino Costa put in another solid display for Valencia, and he’s found some real consistency in his game over recent weeks. Ever Banega came on as a late sub, but to little effect.
So to Monday night, and El Clásico…Wow. Barcelona drew on all their sumptuous attacking flair as they blasted Real Madrid 5-0 in a display that will be remembered for many a year. Although Lionel Messi didn’t get on the score sheet (and continued his record of never scoring against a Jose Mourinho team), the little wizard was prevalent in all Barca’s forward play and managed to weigh in with two assists, as well as hitting the post early on from an improbable angle with the score at 0-0. Messi first David Villa’s first goal and Barça’s third, sliding a defence-splitting pass through to the Spanish striker. The assist from Messi for Villa’s second, however, was a pass Juan Román Riquelme would have been proud of. Ángel Di Maria started for Real Madrid, but no one in a white shirt had any real effect on the game. Gonzalo Higuaín narrowly missed out on a start, as he was nursing an injury, but did make the bench.
Barcelona 5 – 0 Real Madrid (with in no way idiotic commentary)
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