Argentines Abroad: Spain, Mexico, and a roundup of the rest

There wasn’t a great deal of Argentine action last weekend, which is part of the reason this edition of Argentines Abroad is going online so late. Carlos Tevez hobbled out of Manchester City’s Premier League game against Liverpool early on Monday night, and will miss Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against former employers Manchester United, and after Porto’s Portuguese league win the weekend before, it was a quiet one in Portugal. Indeed, this week’s AA only takes in Mexico, Spain, Italy and France. Still room for a newly-broken record, though.

In Ligue Un, there was a goal from a very familiar source, Lisandro López (no, not the free-scoring Arsenal de Sarandí centre back), who after hitting the crossbar earlier on in the match, headed in Aly Cissokho’s centre in the 90th minute to seal a 3-0 win for Lyon at home to Lens. A less expected name was also on the scoresheet; Mauro Cetto, the former Rosario Central and Nantes defender, now with Toulouse. Like Licha, he also scored with his head, in his case from a free kick to put Toulouse 2-1 up away to Marseille. They couldn’t hold on though, and the hosts – who featured Gabriel Heinze and Lucho González – equalised late on for a 2-2 draw.

In Serie A, Esteban Cambiasso notched one for Internazionale in a 2-0 win over Chievo Verona. With Javier Zanetti also playing, Inter were struggling to break Chievo down, but Cambiasso eventually got the break they needed, with a deflected shot after being set up by Maicon to open the scoring. Probably the Italian top flight’s best goal of the weekend, though, came from Maxi López, who scored a magnificent equaliser on the stroke of half time for Catania, in their 1-1 draw away to Bari. Bari had taken the lead eleven minutes beforehand but in spite of Gonzalo Bergessio‘s best efforts alongside Maxi up front, Catania couldn’t find a way through until the former River misfit did… well… this.

And now, over to our correspondents. Just the two, this week.

Tom Clark blogs on life over here, and is keeping us so up-to-date with the Mexican action that he’s even filed a midweek report after noticing my tardiness in putting up the weekend one. Both are right here.

Round 13 of the Mexican Clausura began on a blue note for Cruz Azul on Saturday 9 April with a bitter home defeat in a battle against Morelia for sole leadership of Group Three. The home side disappointed their fervent local support by surrendering an early advantage and were overcome at the death by a 90th minute Morelia goal that gave the Monarcas a 3-2 victory and top spot in the group.

The Machina Cementera started brightly enough, taking the lead in the eleventh minute on a wicked Chaco Giménez free kick, a chanflazo from the right side curled inside the near post to surprise Chaco’s compatriot Federico Vilar.

The weekend otherwise saw all the Argentine big guns silenced at once, after the deadly Chaco had spoken.

The Argentine artillery was back to firing all across Mexico in a midweek fourteenth round of fixtures.

Necaxa, playing at home and struggling against massive odds to avoid the drop, got a 28th minute goal from the durable head of defender Pablo Quattrochi, but it was not enough to see off Estudiantes Tecos in a match that ended in a 2-2 standoff. Lucas Lobos, always active as the driving wheel for Tigres, scored in the 71st minute to forward the home cause in a 4-2 win over Pachuca.

But the two big shows of the round were still to come.

Santos Laguna, playing at home, were powered to a 4-2 victory over Pachuca by two superb goals from the brilliant Daniel Hachita Ludueña, ex-River, the man with the flattest top in football. And here they are:

Cruz Azul, meanwhile, rallied after a bad run of results that had given rise to grumblings among their faithful re. the club’s annual and by now legendary Spring Sag, which in recent years has seem the Blue Machine wilt disappointingly in the late stages of campaigns.

They turned that all around with an impressive 4-0 home triumph over Puebla, riding once again on the sturdy shoulders of Giménez, who scored two highlight-reel goals (his fourth and fifth), and the reliable big man down low, Emanuel Tito Villa, who set up Chaco’s first and then added a headed goal of his own (his eighth). Very pretty stuff altogether, the best of Argentina in Mexico. Take a look here.

David Cartlidge contributes to Spanish Football Info and is Our Man In Spain.

Real Madrid travelled to a very sunny Bilbao on Saturday, and came away with a 3-0 away win over Athletic. Ángel Di María was very much in the thick of things for Real Madrid as he played just off Gonzalo Higuaín, with the ex-Central man drawing two fouls and gaining a penalty on each occasion. The first saw him charge into the area at full speed before dinking the ball around an on-rushing goalkeeper and doing little to avoid contact, while the second saw him tumble to the floor under little pressure. After such a fantastic first half of the season for all the right reasons, there are certain quarters – including his own fans – who aren’t happy with his antics of late in regards to sportsmanship. Higuaín meanwhile was operating well with Di María as Madrid predominately operated on the counter – he did however miss the odd very good chance, including a particular one-on-one with the goalkeeper which was tame at best. We can forgive him for being a little rusty though, given the recent return from a layoff. Ezequiel Garay too, happened to make an appearance for Madrid, and got in a solid 77 minutes showing little sign of being nervous despite not playing too often.

Next up were Barcelona, and they beat Almería 3-1, though they did manage the win after overcoming a little scare and when I say little I mean… Pablo Piatti little! Piatti has plugged away tirelessly for what seems like a lost cause at Almería this season and his attitude hasn’t gone unnoticed. His sprint on the right side of midfield saw him latch onto the ball, before sweeping a glorious pass into his teammate Corona for the opening goal to stun the Camp Nou. Normal service was soon to be returned though, Lionel Messi scoring and Barcelona winning. The first came from a penalty and, after getting an assist whilst on corner duty, hitting an out swinger for Thiago Alcántara to head home, he got a second, which drew him level with Ronaldo’s and his own record of 47 goals for Barcelona in all competitions in a single season. In midweek away to Shakhtar Donetsk, Messi added one more to take his season’s tally to 48 goals (from 46 matches!), and keep the record going. Javier Mascherano offered another confident display as has become the norm, putting in numerous tackles and interceptions before dropping in as centre-back later in the game – with little trouble. He did however pick up a yellow card, and will miss El Clásico next week.

Messi whole performance video

Mallorca and Sevilla drew 2-2 in the final game of Saturday evening, and featuring for the team from Seville were Diego Perotti and Federico Fazio – regulars of course. The former was his usual bright self, and made some smart runs on the flank and cutting inside which gave his full-back plenty of work to do. The former, aside from a few lapses in concentration, had another good showing to add to the collection since returning from injury.

Sunday, and Atlético Madrid served up a convincing 3-0 victory over Real Sociedad. Sergio Agüero was Atlético’s captain for the win too – and he wears the armband well. Kun hadn’t played for three weeks, and he was raring to go here. His 13th league goal of the season was a stunner, as he bolted three-quarters the length of the field after spinning away from one player, in a solo counter-attack of sorts to finish superbly into the bottom corner. It even had a certain Arsenal player tweeting about good the goal – and Kun – were. Even aside from the goal he was brilliant, and despite not putting away a few chances was a constant threat and seemed to persevere more so even when his side were 2-0 up.

Agüero goal

Valencia beat local rivals Villarreal 5-0 on Sunday evening too, and the scoreline only told half the story as it could have been ten. Éver Banega offered up a top performance for Valencia, and when substituted later on in the game received a standing ovation – which was well merited. His passing was precise, and he played teammates into good positions on several occasions. His assist came when he played a neat one-two with Juan Mata who finished in style after receiving a short, but well weighted return from the Argentine. Banega’s goal came after starting a move on the halfway line before following the run of his winger and making himself available in the box to tap into an empty net. Villarreal meanwhile were terrible, with Mateo Mussachio especially poor at the back as his positioning and awareness went missing. His usual partner Gonzalo Rodríguez, alongside whom he’s looked so composed with this season, was absent. Marco Rubén made a late appearance, but it was frankly pointless given Villarreal’s display.

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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