Argentines Abroad is late this week because my birthday on Monday has ended up being celebrated in some form or another for what seems like most of the week so far. It’s well worth getting this online now though, however late, because there’s news of the first Argentine champions of the European season in Portugal, not one but three big contributions in England. We’ve the usual round-ups from our correspondents too.
In England, Carlos Tevez was one of the stars for Manchester City on Sunday as they beat Sunderland 5-0. Tevez scored a penalty – won himself – to put City 2-0 up, and also set up the third goal for David Silva. City’s fifth, scored by Yaya Touré, came about thanks in no small part to his clever closing down of Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, forcing visiting captain Lee Cattermole to panic and hit a pass across the back which Touré capitalised on. On Saturday, Newcastle United beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 4-1 with two of the goals the results of Argentine craft; Fabricio Collocini, who’s regained some of his Deportivo La Coruña form of late, bursting forward out of defence to provide a great through ball for Joey Barton, who crossed for Newcastle’s fifth, scored by Peter Lovenkrands. After Wolves had given themselves hope by pulling it back to 3-1, Jonás Gutiérrez then slammed the door on them with a fourth, a fine solo effort.
In the Netherlands, Sergio Romero returned from injury to the AZ Alkmaar goal, and made a good save in helping his side to a 1-0 away win over Feyenoord. In France, Lucho González set up Bruno Cheyrou for the only goal in Marseille’s victory at Lens, and Lisandro López gave Lyon a 2-0 half-time lead away to Nice, only for them to fluff their lines and concede twice in stoppage time at the end of the game to draw 2-2.
Nice 2 – 2 Lyon (Licha scores Lyon’s second)
In Serie A, Gonzalo Bergessio notched Catania’s second and Pablo Ledesma the third in their 4-0 thrashing of Palermo (for whom Javier Pastore was a 52nd minute substitution). The only other notable Argentine contribution of the weekend came from Internazionale captain Javier Zanetti, who fouled Antonio Cassano in the last minute of the Milan derby to allow the Italian to score a penalty which made the final score 3-0 to Milan.
And now, over to our correspondents.
Tom Clark blogs over here, when he’s not doing a sterling job as our Mexico reporter.
The best all-Argentine moment in round 12 of the Mexican Clausura came on Saturday 2 April, when Atlas’ bid to ascend to the top of Group 2 was foiled by local rivals Estudiantes Tecos. Estudiantes, playing away, earned the 1-1 draw on the strength of a marvelous 28th minute goal. The move started with clever work on the ball and then a precise centering pass from Rubens Sambueza to Mauro Cejas, who rewarded all that fine effort by his compatriot with a bullet header powered in from five metres out. It was the increasingly impressive Cejas’s sixth tally of the campaign.
It’s the first goal on this clip, but don’t miss the second, either, a very neat taquito by the Honduran Carlos Costly of Atlas.
On the same day, winger Juan Ezequiel Cuevas scored for San Luis in a 3-2 defeat away to Querétaro.
On Sunday 3 April, in a knock-down, drag-out affair at the Azteca, América survived their own nonchalance just barely – surrendering a 4-1 lead before coming back to win 5-4. The fourth for Puebla, in the 73rd minute, was a typically adroit piece of individual skill from the veteran Gabriel Ernesto El Mistico Pereyra, who lived up to his nickname once again with this audacious chip tucked in at the far post over traffic. Gabi retains the touch of a master.
His goal is the last (and finest) on this goal-laden clip.
There was only one place to be if you were an Argentine playing in Portugal this weekend – the Estádio da Luz, where F.C Porto secured a 25th national title with a 2-1 victory over arch rivals Benfica. The home side fielded their usual slew of Albiceleste stars, with Pablo Aimar, Nico Gaitán, Eduardo Salvio and Franco Jara all in the starting XI. Nico Otamendi was at the heart of the Porto defence.
Given the stakes, this was always going to be an especially bad-tempered Clássico, and the Argentine participants were at the heart of the action. Aimar was the first player to be booked, after just two minutes. Indeed, the occasion appeared to have got to El Mago, who spent the opening half doing his damnedest to be sent off. His withdrawal at half-time was a sensible move from Jorge Jesus.
Benfica’s equaliser was an all-Argentine affair: Gaitán went down under the faintest of pressure from Otamendi inside the Porto penalty area, and Saviola stroked home the resulting spot-kick. Otamendi was booked for that indiscretion, and was dismissed with 20 minutes remaining, having appeared to obstruct Óscar Cardozo.
Otamendi’s ire was tempered soon after, with the final whistle that crowned Porto 2010/11 champions.
Fernando Belluschi and Mariano González join Otamendi as Portuguese champions with Porto, as incidentally does Radamel Falcao García, the Colombian who used to lead River Plate’s attack, who was fouled in the video above for the penalty Porto’s winner came from.
Any AA report from now on concerning the Argentines playing in the Israeli Premier League will be called the Pedro Joaquín Galván Report. Why? No one else with some Argentine descent does anything but PJ Galván. Last Saturday he scored a double in his team’s 2-0 win against one of the more popular teams in the country, Macabi Tel Aviv. Now with 14 goals he is his team top scorer and only two goals behind the league’s leader.
Saturday evening started with a bang in La Liga and it was a very loud one indeed. José Mourinho’s 9 year unbeaten home record was smashed as Real Madrid lost 1-0 to a courageous Sporting Gijón. Ángel Di María’s performance was one of the main talking points afterwards, as he suffered from an individualistic overload on the night. Too many times the ex-Benfica man would try too much, and rather than get his head up, squander possession as he was pressured on the ball. He was removed by Mourinho on 71 minutes partly due to performance, and partly due to picking up a knock. Ezequiel Garay stayed on the bench the entire evening.
Lionel Messi has been suffering from a series of knocks too, and this week was mainly training in the gym. His performance on Saturday evening consisted of coming off the bench after 52 minutes, as Barcelona beat Villarreal away 1-0. He made a good impression coming on; sprayed some nice passes into wide areas as he operated from deep, made some smart runs and offered up a few skills – you know the drill by now. He also had a very nice free-kick expertly saved as it was heading into the top corner. Javier Mascherano played 90 minutes, and was excellent in the middle again as has been the case for the last month or so. It’s taken time for him to break through, but when he does play now there is no disappointment. Mateo Mussachio was solid for Villarreal, and did his ever-enhancing reputation no harm while centre-back partner Gonzalo Rodríguez was strong as usual at the back – the pair were shaken about a little when Barça intensified the pressure but they coped well overall.
Messi complete performance video
Sunday saw Sevilla pick up a 3-1 win victory over Real Zaragoza, as they boosted their faint hopes of Champions League qualification. Diego Perotti got on the scoresheet through a nice bit of goal-poaching when he tapped in Jesus Navas’ low driven cross. Federico Fazio put in another good display too, showing strength at the back, while making several key recovery tackles as well as showing adeptness in the air.
Sevilla 3 – 1 Real Zaragoza (Perotti scores Sevilla’s opener)
Monday meanwhile had Pablo Piatti’s Almería going down to a 3-1 defeat against Athletic Bilbao, but the little man managed to get on the score sheet. He broke in between the two centre backs before showing composure to finish neatly past the goalkeeper inside the opening 5 minutes. Almería look doomed in terms of relegation, but Piatti keeps plugging away with great determination.
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.