This week’s Argentines Abroad is late, thanks to the midweek round of matches here in Argentina keeping me busy. Better late than never, though. As well as Lionel Messi’s hat-trick in Barcelona’s 8-0 demolition of Osasuna, we’ve got videos of lovely goals from Portugal, France and Mexico right here for your pleasure. Enjoy.
In the Premier League, two of the relatively new boys to the English top flight gave two of the most noteworthy contributions. Denis Stracqualursi came off the bench to make his debut for Everton, and was credited with an assist (or would be, if English journalists believed in such things as assists) after getting the slightest of touches to goalkeeper Tim Howard’s long ball, setting up fellow loanee Royston Drenthe to make it 3-1 to Everton in the 90th minute. Their opponents, Wigan Athletic, got their sole goal through Franco Di Santo after half an hour. Alejandro Faurlín, meanwhile, did one better and scored a goal for Queens Park Rangers, putting them 2-0 up after 10 minutes in a 3-0 away win over Wolves.
The other big contribution came from Sergio Agüero, who continued his good start to life in Manchester with a brace away from home as City went 2-0 up against Fulham. They were pegged back in the second half, though, and only ended up getting a point after a 2-2 draw. Elsewhere, Mauro Formica featured for Blackburn Rovers in their 4-3 win over Arsenal, and Newcastle United’s Argentine duo, Fabricio Coloccini and Jonás Gutiérrez, once again played for their side in a 1-1 draw away to Aston Villa.
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In Italy, the first Argentine goal of the Serie A weekend was scored by a player I’d totally forgotten was even playing in Italy (well, he’s only been there a short while). Joaquín Larrivey, formerly of Huracán, Vélez Sarsfield and Colón, scored for Cagliari late on to put them 2-0 up against Novara; Novara got a goal back almost immediately, making Larrivey’s strike even more vital. Internazionale drew 0-0 with Roma, with Walter Samuel, Esteban Cambiasso, Javier Zanetti and Diego Milito all starting what turned out to be Gian Piero Gasparini’s last match as Inter manager. Mauro Zárate also featured, replacing Milito in the second half. For Roma, Nicolás Burdisso played against his old club, and Fernando Gago played the last half hour.
Ezequiel Lavezzi and Hugo Campagnaro both played for Napoli in a 3-1 win over Milan, with a hat-trick from Uruguayan forward Edinson Cavani. Rodrigo Palacio’s Genoa won 2-1 away to Lazio, and there were two other goalscorers: Germán Denis got the only goal of the game in Atalanta’s win over Palermo (Maxi Moralez also played most of the match), and Maxi López did likewise in a 1-0 win for Catania over Cesena.
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Tom Clark blogs here, and keeps HEGS readers up to speed with goings-on in Mexico.
Round 9 of the Mexican league Apertura kicked off on Saturday 18 September with traditional powers Monterrey and Cruz Azul facing off in the former club’s mountain home. The Máquina Cementera scored very early, but the Rayados’ Cesar Chelito Delgado quickly answered back with a high-quality tenth-minute goal, slotted in at an impossibly tight angle out of traffic following a Neri Cardozo corner; in the end, though, the good work by the Argentine combination went for naught as the visitors nipped a 2-1 win.
Santos Laguna, with a new coach (Benjamin Galindo) and a bad patch of recent history (not only on the pitch but around it, after a very edgy day of gunfire around the stadium a few weeks back, terminating a match), enjoyed a shift in fortune away at San Luis. A tense affair was decided by the day’s single goal, a thing of beauty from the Laguneros’ veteran midfield mainstay, the level-headed (haircut as well) Daniel Emanuel Ludueña.
On the same day, América traveled to Chiapas to face current overall leaders Jaguares in what was to be the final chapter in the protracted passion play surrounding the latest unsuccessful coach of the well-paid but chronically underachieving monster club of the league. The Águilas’ manager Carlos Reinoso, whose increasingly tormenting (and tiresome) efforts to use the media retain his job have occupied the front of the fútbol news for a month that has seemed more like a century, had come down to a win-or-go challenge. His team made the decision easy for management by shipping five goals on the day; and when it was over the axe fell at last upon Reinoso. His payroll-heavy side at least put up a fight for him on this occasion. Daniel Rolfi Montenegro, awakening from a two-month blank spell, scored twice from distance; very pretty goals they were, but alas for the endlessly agonising Señor Reinoso, too little, too late.
On Sunday the 20th there was joy for the home-standing Universitarios of Pumas (UNAM) as they smartly dispatched Toluca 4-1. Martín Bravo contributed a penalty, capping a four-goal week – he had put across three in a midweek CONCACAF Champions League demolition of hapless Toronto FC. (Word to the wise punter: never put your money on a Canadian side playing south of the Río Grande.)
This busy week for the Argentine strike force in Mexico concluded with a lovely sombrelito by Franco Niell in a losing cause, as Querétaro were punished 4-2 away to Morelia. The Niell chip comes in the 79th minute, it’s worth your time checking out.
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When he’s not causing chaos in his own defence, Martín Demichelis’ presence in the opposition area can cause a little trouble too. He did exactly that when managing to get his head on a free-kick swung into the area, and duly grabbed the only goal of the game as his Málaga side beat Real Mallorca 1-0.
Valencia went away to Sporting Gijón and grabbed all three points in a 0-1 victory. Integral to that performance was Éver Banega, who is growing increasingly close to repeating his form of two years ago with Valencia. Banega’s revelling in his role as a deep lying playmaker and his distribution of the ball, and more importantly his attitude, have been excellent.
Barcelona put in the eye-catching result of the weekend as they demolished Osasuna in the Camp Nou by an incredible 8 goals to 0. Lionel Messi was at his intergalactic best, and proved once again (not that he needed to) that he’s simply peerless. Enough of my rambling anyway… just watch the video. Javier Mascherano put in another sound display at the back, though he did have very little to do. That time when he couldn’t get a game seems so long ago now.
Sevilla managed to beat Real Sociedad 1-0, and Diego Perotti put in a decent 80 minutes or so. He linked the attack well for the most part but seemed to fatigue later in the game as he misplaced a few passes and lost the ball.
The shock result of the weekend came with Levante beating Real Madrid 1-0. A lot of criticism was headed in the direction of Ángel Di María who again was simply awful. One thing you can’t take away from Di María is that he’s a hard worker, and he’ll try his best – sadly, he tends to over-elaborate and lately it’s been more often than not. What is causing great frustration though is his theatrics. Madrid’s own fans seemed to be disgruntled with his behaviour even, as the ex-Benfica man persistently looked to get the opposition sanctioned. How José Mourinho’s patience is bearing with Di María is anyone’s guess, but the player needs to make radical changes in his demeanour soon. Gonzalo Higuaín came on as a substitute with 30 minutes left but was largely ineffectual as Levante tightened up and closed the game out superbly.
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In recent weeks it has been solely down to former Huracan midfielder Javier Pastore to provide the goals for this feature. It’s all change this week though, of course Pastore got his goal but another four Argentines found the net in what was a net-busting week in France. Week 6 saw the ball hit the net an incredible 33 times, the biggest amount in France in two years and Argentine players helped with five goals.
Nice full back Fabián Monzón was deadly from the spot as he scored two penalties as the side from the Cote d’Azur managed their first win of the season. And if Monzón’s double wasn’t good enough it was fellow Argentine defender Renato Civelli who towered over Ajaccio defenders to power home his 88th minute header and seal the 3-0 victory.
Another side that recorded a great 3-0 victory was FC Lorient and left back Lucas Mareque was again one of the better players, with over 100 touches during the match he was as good going forward as he was going backwards and Saint-Etienne struggle to breakdown the Lorient defence.
Santiago Gentiletti is another defender who has impressed so far this season for his new side Brest. The former Gimnasia La Plata, O’Higgins (Chile) and Argentinos Juniors defender has played at both left back and centre back this season, and when they went 2-0 down to league leaders Montpellier on Saturday, the signs weren’t good.
Israeli striker Eden Ben Bassat pulled one back with 20 minutes to go and it was the big Argentine that popped up to stun Rene Girard’s side. Brest tried to play a short corner; the ball was drilled in low and took a deflection up in the air. Gentiletti reacted quickest and was able to head the ball past Geoffrey Jourdren. Queue great scenes from the home support and the Argentine defender was mobbed by his teammates.
We move onto Sunday and where would we be without a mention of the mercurial Javier Pastore. With his team 2-0 down away at newly promoted Evian, Pastore took it upon himself to lift them, beating four players at the edge of the box to wriggle his way clear and place the ball past Stephane Andersen.
PSG would find an equaliser in the second half and there is no doubt without that little bit of Pastore magic the away side would have returned to Paris without a point.
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José Shaffer, who joined União de Leiria on loan from Benfica late in the transfer window, played a full ninety minutes in their 3-1 home loss to Marítimo. I must confess that I did Shaffer something of a disservice in last week’s edition of AA; having scored an absolute golazo to give the team their first win of the season at Beira-Mar, he was left out of my round-up. Sorry, José.
Fernando Belluschi returned to the Porto starting eleven, but it wasn’t the happiest of outings for the Dragons, as they failed to breach the defence of Liga new boys Feirense, dropping their first points of the season. Belluschi was his usual industrious self, and on another day Porto might well have prevailed, but they head into Friday’s Clássico against Benfica level on points with their fierce rivals. Nico Otamendi was rested by Vítor Pereira in anticipation of said game.
Benfica’s preparation was somewhat smoother, with the Eagles pummelling Académica 4-1 at the Estádio da Luz. Ezequiel Garay and Javier Saviola started for the Eagles, with Pablo Aimar and Nico Gaitán amongst the substitutes. The duo came on for the final 25 minutes, and combined for the third goal – Gaitán bursting beyond his marker and sending in a cross which was headed home by Aimar from close range.
Sporting continued to combine passages of genuine quality with passages of genuine comedy in a 3-2 win at Rio Ave, which saw them score twice in the opening three minutes before switching off completely. Emiliano Insúa and Fabián Rinaudo started for the Lions, and both impressed throughout. Insúa’s tendency to raid forward lends the team additional dynamism, whilst Rinaudo is a metronomic presence at the base of the midfield, and his ability to smother the opposition before distributing the ball sensibly will serve Domingos well going forward.
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