Argentines Abroad: Palacio hits a double, and Agüero ends his drought

In Italy, Rodrigo Palacio hit a double for Genoa in an incredible comeback from 3-0 down at home to Roma, in which he helped his side to a 4-3 win. In England, Carlos Tevez helped Manchester City add some gloss to an FA Cup win over Notts County. And in Spain, Sergio Agüero, goalless for eight matches, finally found his way back onto the Atlético de Madrid scoresheet. All this and more is right here in your weekly dose of Argentines Abroad.

Tevez was the only significant Argentine performer in the weekend’s FA Cup matches, and featured as a second half substitute for Manchester City in their fourth round replay against Notts County. With City two up but struggling to impress, Tevez replaced Italian forward Mario Balotelli with an hour on the clock, and in the final ten minutes he scored one goal and set up another, crossing for Edin Dzeko, to help City to an eventual 5-0 win.

In Serie A, former Boca Juniors star Rodrigo Palacio put in arguably his most impressive performance since moving to Boca’s supposed ancestral home (the club, remember, were founded by Genoese immigrants to Buenos Aires). Visitors Roma took a 3-0 lead in the 51st minute through Francesco Totti, with Nicolás Burdisso having scored their second. But they reckoned without the determination of Palacio, who scored immediately to put the hosts back in with a shout, and after Alberto Paloschi had got a second to make it 2-3, Palacio equalised with sixteen minutes to go. Paloschi also got a second, to win the game 4-3 for Genoa.

In France, Lucho González scored for Marseille as they beat St Etienne 2-1 at home. And now, over to our correspondents.

David Cartlidge contributes to Spanish Football Info, and is filling us in on the action from La Liga.

I’ve hinted on Hasta El Gol Siempre several times in previous round-ups that Ángel Di María was showing signs of burnout, and for the latter part of the season it would be most beneficial for him to have a rest. What do you know, the young winger was then duly rested for a few games in the hope he’d get his swagger back – and he showed some early signs of benefiting from it on Saturday evening in Real Madrid’s 2-0 win over Levante. Di María was easily man of the match for Madrid, central to all his side’s build up play, with some neat touches and smart running – as well as showing some glimpses of the skills he has in abundance. The dribble leading up to Karim Benzema’s goal for instance was absolutely marvellous – and the subsequent low cross across the box was decent too. Fernando Gago got a brief five minute run out, hardly touching the ball.

Di Maria skill and assist

The drought is over! Atlético de Madrid’s Sergio Kun Agüero had gone 8 games without a goal before Saturday evening – his last being against Deportivo La Coruña on the 11th December. The goal came in his team’s 1-0 away win over Real Zaragoza, and it was done in some style. Picking up the ball on the edge of the box he shaped his body well, before showing a great change of pace to shift the ball away from the defender and slam a shot home. Classic Kun – power, speed and skill. Aside from the goal he was lively, getting involved in all his side’s most positive play and you could perhaps say another goal against his name would have been deserved. For Real Zaragoza, Leo Ponzio had a vicious snap at his fellow countryman on the opposite side, the midfielder who is no stranger to referees in Spain took Agüero out callously – perhaps a little frustrated that he let the Atlético man get around him for the goal. Nicolás Bertolo came on at half time for Zaragoza, and was probably the best player for his team – providing much needed imagination in the final third though he didn’t get any reward come the final whistle.

Agüero goal

Sunday, and another fantastic goal to add to Pablo Piatti’s collection, only this time it was more about finesse than his usual powerful drives. He scored Almería’s only goal as they drew 1-1 with Deportivo La Coruña. Piatti had been lively all game, and was his side’s best source of attack so the goal was very much deserved. Picking the ball up on the edge of the area he made a drop of the shoulder, before cutting in and curling a delightful shot into the top corner of the net. He was partnered up front by Leo Ulloa, who played well and was a good focal point for Almería’s attack. Hernán Bernadello also got 90 minutes, and did himself no shame with a typically solid performance. Deportivo meanwhile had Diego Colotto put in another good showing, he’s a pivotal figure at the back and made some important interception and headed clearances. José Sand made his debut too, getting 20 minutes or so and made the opposition goalkeeper work a few times with decent shots.

Piatti goal

Marco Ruben got Villarreal’s only goal as they drew 1-1 with Málaga later in the evening. Gonzalo Rodríguez played also and was solid for much of the game. Málaga featured Martín Demichelis and he too put in a decent display.

The next game up was Sevilla, and they lined up with Federico Fazio who put in a strong performance at the back. Fazio has been deployed in the midfield at times by Sevilla, but he’s doing well at the back at the moment and his game featured some excellent headed clearances as well as some strong, but fair tackles – one in particular was earth shattering. Diego Perotti came on late in the game, but had only two minutes to impress.

Lastly, but certainly not least were Barcelona who beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 in well fought contest. Lionel Messi featured of course for Barcelona, and got himself onto the scoresheet but also put in a generally good performance – aside from the goal there was one particular run which could’ve been very special had he not been stopped, though the referee deemed it a legal challenge. His goal however was another excellent example of how versatile he can be, though most of the time these days he operates deep and moves forward with the team this goal was a fine display of his centre forward abilities. After a low cross came in, Messi made a smart near post run and the clipped finish was even smarter. Javier Mascherano started for Barcelona too, and was fairly decent as he passed the ball in a simple manner and broke up various spells of Athletic Bilbao pressure.

Messi whole performance

Boaz Magal blogs over at The Biting Flea, and is giving us the lowdown on the Israeli league.

Mixed performance for the Argentines playing in Israel last weekend. A total waste of time for some and two goals to others. For Macabi Tel Aviv, Guillermo Israilevich came on as a sub on the 46th minute and between then and the end of the game he was neither heard nor seen. Roberto Colautti showed up on the 72nd minute. Both did not help their team and they lost 1-0 to Hapoel Haifa (my team).

Pedro Joaquín Galván was a better Argentine sub (57th minute) on the weekend. His team, Bnei Yehuda Tel-Aviv did win thanks to his goal from close range. However, their fans booed and cursed the players and the manger at the end of the game for lack of quality.

Nicolás Falczuk, playing for Hapoel Acco, emulated his fellow expat, Galván, coming on as a sub and scored. His goal (the last in the game) can be seen here.

Ben Shave, author of Cahiers Du Sport, is as ever keeping us up to date with Portugal.

With FC Porto having moved their home fixture with Nacional to the end of January, it was left to the Lisbon derby to fly the flag for Argentine representation. With Marco Torsiglieri and Leandro Grimi starting for Sporting, and Nico Gaitán, Eduardo Salvio and Javier Saviola for Benfica, there was no shortage of Argentine involvement in what was an entertaining Classico.

Grimi wasted little time in introducing himself to Salvio, earning himself an early yellow card after chopping the Atlético de Madrid loanee down as he was about to burst towards goal, but it was Salvio and Gaitán who got the better of their markers throughout the first half. A delicious cross from Gaitán was only half-cleared, and the ball fell to Salvio who swept a low shot beyond Rui Patrício.

Benfica controlled the proceedings after that, despite the dismissal of Sidnei just before half-time. Saviola, who had had a quiet outing, made way for the second half, which saw Gaitán and Salvio continue to torment Sporting’s full-backs at every opportunity. Gaitán in particular was superb – the Tuesday edition of Record bore the headline ‘The Nico Show’, whilst O Jogo made a slightly odd reference to ‘the rhythm of Gaitán’ dictating the game. However you look at it, Gaitán’s was a virtuoso performance, as Benfica moved 15 points clear of their city rivals.

And Tom Clark, who posted this lovely photo essay on his blog last week, has been keeping an eye on Mexico for us.

Two weekends of the Mexican league torneo for the price of one, this time around.

All the Argentine scoring action in the sixth round of the Mexican Clausura came in a single match, as Monarcas of Morelia hosted Estudiantes Tecos on Sunday 13 February.

The home club, off to a sluggish start in the torneo, jumped off to a 2-0 lead, their second strike coming from the super air power of Mauricio Pampa Romero, perhaps the strongest central defender in the league, who outleapt a crowd and simply willed home his brave far post header on the fifteenth minute. Mauro Cejas, with his fourth goal of the campaign, briefly pulled Estudiantes back within hailing distance at 2-1 in the fifty-seventh minute.  It took Romero only four minutes to respond with another towering header, setting the Monarcas out ahead for good; and they never looked back, finishing 4-1 winners.

You can see the highlights here:

Round seven kicked off on Friday 18 February with a remarkable golazo by Martín La Rata Bravo of Pumas (UNAM).

The match at San Luis was only three minutes old when Bravo opened and closed the day’s scoring with this rampaging run through the San Luis defense, capped off by a bold finish characteristic of the customarily aggressive La Rata.

And finally on Saturday the 19th Cruz Azul, playing at home to struggling (and unlucky) Atlas, benefitted from an officiating blunder that denied a fairly-earned goal to allow Alfredo Chango Moreno to take all three points, 2-1.  Emanuel Tito Villa banged in his fourth of the torneo in the opening minutes, from precision service by the great Christian Chaco Giménez; plucky Atlas equalised late, but at the death the deadly Chaco struck again, providing the wicked pinpoint delivery to Romo for the winner.

You can follow the ins and outs during the 2011 Torneo Clausura, as well as the country’s vast foreign legion and the latest news from the selección during the 2010-2011 season direct from Buenos Aires with HEGS on Twitter. If you’ve not signed up yet you can do so here. You can also join the official HEGS Facebook group, to keep up to date with the latest posts on the blog and discuss things with other fans. You’ll find it here. Also remember to bookmark Hand Of Pod, our Argentine football podcast, or if you prefer you can subscribe to it on iTunes here.

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