Lionel Messi scored against a José Mourinho-coached team for the first time at the weekend, in the clásico in Spain, but he wasn’t the only Argentine to notch a goal in foreign lands. There were a few beauties in the Mexican top flight as well as contributions in Italy, Portugal and elsewhere in Spain. Here’s your weekly roundup.
In Serie A, the weekend saw three goals from Argentine players, as well as another match featuring a healthy quota of them. Germán Denis scored what proved to be the winning goal for Udinese, away to a Napoli side featuring Ezequiel Lavezzi. Lavezzi picked up a yellow card, and Denis was the happier of the two, chesting down a cross and arrowing a shot into the far corner to put Udinese 2-0 up just after the hour; they eventually won 2-1. The other Argentine goals both came in Lazio’s 4-1 away win over Catania. The hosts, who were as ever packed with Argentines, had equalised just after half time through Matías Schelotto, but were ultimately overpowered and Mauro Zárate got their fourth. The other big Argentine involvement came in Parma’s surprising 2-0 win over Internazionale; Gabriel Paletta featured in Parma’s rearguard, whilst Javier Zanetti, Esteban Cambiasso and, for the last half hour, Diego Milito all played for Inter.
Catania 1 – 4 Lazio (Schelotto scores for Catania; Zárate gets Lazio’s fourth)
With the title race dead and buried and the Europa League very much still a going concern, both Benfica and F.C Porto made a host of changes for this weekend’s matches. The Eagles had three Argentines in their starting XI at home to Beira Mar: Pablo Aimar, Franco Jara, and – making his full Liga debut – Jose Luis Fernandez. The former Racing man has shed a fair amount of timber since arriving in Portugal, and whilst much of the game passed him by for the hour that he was given, a couple of decent runs and plenty of commitment meant that this wasn’t the worst debut in the world.
Benfica ran out 2-1 winners, with Jara contributing the delightful second, shimmying his way beyond two markers before slotting home calmly.
Meanwhile in the north of Portugal, Porto and Sporting put on a thrilling Classico, with the newly-crowned champions taking all three points in a see-saw encounter. Former River Plate man Radamel Falcao García was the main protagonist – the Colombian continuing his white-hot form with two superbly-taken goals. Marco Torsiglieri started at the back for Sporting, and whilst he could hardly be blamed for Falcao’s predatory nature, it wasn’t exactly his finest performance either. With Fernando Belluschi still injured, the only other Argentine involvement of note was a 24-minute cameo from fan favourite Mariano Gonzalez.
Tom Clark, whose blog you’ll find here, is here to fill us in on the action from Mexico, as ever, and there are some cracking goals for him to tell us about.
Some brilliant – and quite important – goals in Mexico this week from familiar Argentine sources.
Alfredo David El Chango Moreno may have recently taken up Mexican citizenship, but the 31-year-old native of Santiago de Estero, whose long career has taken him from Boca to Necaxa to River to China to Lokomotiv Moscow and back again to a half dozen different Mexican clubs before settling in this season at Atlas of Guadalajara, still retains the scoring instinct of a brave pampero – and the skills to go with it. On Saturday 16 April, in Round 16 of the Mexican Clausura, El Chango kept alive the postseason qualification hopes of Atlas – and demolished those of host Pachuca – with two striking goals: the first a 71st minute game-tying laser blast of a free kick that banged off the cross bar, bounced straight down, hit the line and was (a bit generously, in the view of the home side) given; the second an even prettier first-time voltereta in the 87th minute that lifted the rojinegro to an unlikely 2-1 away win.
Damián Ariel La Chilindrina Álvarez, another gifted 31-year-old Argentine with a few seasons under his belt, has traveled from River to Reggina, back to River and then on to Mexico, where in nine years with Morelia, Pachuca and (currently) Tigres de Nuevo Léon, he has established himself as one of the premier wingers in the league, bringing energy and flair wherever he goes. On Saturday, playing away to Jaguares de Chiapas, the Buenos Aires native La Chilindrina – sometimes also referred to in Mexico as El bendito demonio (‘the blessed demon’), thanks to displays like this one – assured Tigres a place in the liguilla by providing the day’s only scoring with this brilliant bit of control and power in the 87th minute.
And not to be outdone, the significant Argentine cast at Puebla combined for the force required to surprise Cruz Azul 2-0. Gabriel El Mistico Pereyra set up both goals for the camoteros, the first with a pinpoint pass to the Ecuadoran Felix Borja, the second with a perfectly delivered corner in the 44th minute to Walter Jiménez. Another native of Buenos Aires, who has performed ably in midfield for several Mexican clubs since arriving from Banfield in 2003, the 33-year-old Jiménez earned the gift from his compatriot by firing in a searing golazo from thirty-five metres, the score that sealed the home victory.
There’s only one place to start this weekend’s round-up, and that is the Santiago Bernabéu as Real Madrid and Barcelona drew 1-1 in El Clásico. The game itself was underwhelming given the usual hype and hysteria surrounding the clash, but there was still drama. Lionel Messi had an evening that wasn’t one of his best; he gave the ball away, missed chances and seemed slightly lethargic. There was one particular move which he started, and almost finished after driving himself across the edge of the area. He did though, get on the score sheet, despatching Barcelona’s penalty – his first against a side coached by José Mourinho. The performance overall wasn’t awful as such, and he linked well in midfield at times and showed good close control despite the pressure he was put under. For Real Madrid, Ángel Di María only frustrated the masses inside the Bernabéu; his insistence in running down blind alleys is become quite silly now, hopefully when running down one he can find a right foot too. His removal from the game after the hour mark was no surprise.
Messi complete performance vs Real Madrid
Earlier in the night Valencia won 3-0, and Éver Banega gave one of his best displays this season in the away triumph over Almería. He created superbly throughout with simple passes being stroked about with a swagger, and his running to accompany the attack was a great asset for the team. Pablo Piatti and Leo Ulloa featured for Almería but only minimally as Valencia emphasised their power.
On Sunday, Espanyol drew 2-2 with Atlético Madrid in an extremely entertaining game. Sergio Agüero found himself on the scoresheet once more, as he made it six in his last five matches. Only Lionel Messi and Pedro have achieved what Kun has now by scoring in five consecutive games this season. The finish itself was quite wonderful. Aldo Duscher meanwhile, had a decent game for Espanyol, clearing up in midfield and making several tackles.
Agüero complete performance
Monday evening saw Villarreal beat Real Zaragoza 1-0, and the goal came via the penalty spot after a clumsy challenge from Leo Ponzio. His display was a tireless one, and his efforts were admirable but his Zaragoza side lacked quality in the end. Nicolás Bertolo was one of the players who had to be relied upon for that quality, but he was substituted 10 minutes after half-time after being outmuscled in the final third all too often. Villarreal had Mateo Musacchio in their ranks, and over-eagerness to win the ball aside he had a good game, showing some great positional sense and winning several one-on-one battles. He did miss a great chance to score though, probably because he’s not used to being in front of goal.
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