Lionel Messi. Sergio Aguero. Angel Di Maria. Carlos Tevez. Javier Pastore.
Those are the names of some of the most lethal attackers from Argentina who play for some of the top clubs in Europe.
Then there's Germán Denis.
Just who is Germán Denis? Well he is yet another Argentine who has proven he can put the ball in the net on a regular basis -- in the defensive-minded Serie A in Italy, of all places.
Denis raised his season tally to 15 goals on Sunday, on the strength of his hat-trick in Atalanta's 4-1 triumph over visiting Roma.
He trails Udinese's Antonio Di Natale, who has 17 goals.
The Argentine striker started his memorable day by giving Atalanta a 2-0 lead in the 19th minute. After Fabio Borini sliced the advantage in half, Denis restored the two-goal in the 47th minute. Only a minute after Pablo Osvaldo, an Argentine-born Italian citizen, was red carded for an off-the-ball incident, completed his hat-trick in the 66th minute.
As it turned out, the 30-year-old Denis led an impressive contingent of Argentinean players who managed to find the back of the net over the weekend. Countrymen Rodrigo Palacio, Lisandro López, Jonas Gutiérrez, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Messi and Aguero also scored.
Manchester United did not need the goal-scoring heroics of Chicharito on Sunday. Instead, the Red Devils relied on their Over-30 platoon to walk out of enemy territory with three points.
In a Hollywood script, 39-year-old midfielder Ryan Giggs, playing in his 900th game for United, tallied in the 90th minute en route to a dramatic 2-1 win over Norwich City in the English Premier League. Ashley Young, who replaced Javier Hernández as a substitute, sent a left-wing cross that Giggs slotted home at the far post for the win.
Paul Scholes, a 37-year-old midfielder who came out of a six-month retirement, scored the first goal in the seventh minute before Grant Holt connected for the equalizer in the 83rd minute. Scholes headed in a Nani cross from close-range from Nani which had eluded Danny Welbeck and the Mexican striker.
Hernández was involved in two other scoring opportunities. The Mexican set up Welbeck, but goalkeeper John Ruddy tipped his shot away in the 16th minute. Later, Hernández could not get much power on his shot off a Welbeck feed as Ruddy had no problem saving that attempt.
On Thursday, Hernández came through for United again to help the team reach the Sweet 16 of the Europa League tournament. Chicharito scored ManU’s lone goal of a 2-1 loss to Ajax at Old Trafford. It was good enough to boost United to a 3-2 aggregate victory. It was the first time the English side lost a home game in the competition. United had won the first leg in Amsterdam last week, 2-0.
Hernández struck in the sixth minute to give the hosts a 1-0 lead in the game and 3-0 overall before Aras Ozbiliz tallied in the 37th minute. Toby Alderweired scored in the 87th minute. ManU will take on Athletic Bilbao in the next round the Spanish team blanked Lokomotiv Moscow, 1-0, to advance on away goals.
Aguero found the back of the net in Manchester City's 3-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers, the team's 18th consecutive home victory. The Argentine international took advantage of goalkeeper Paul Robinson’s botched attempt at stopping at a corner kick to lift City into a 2-0 bulge in the 52nd minute. The win put City five points ahead of Manchester United, which plays on Sunday. City became the first EPL team side to win 13 consecutive home league matches from the beginning of a season since Newcastle in 1996, and only the sixth top tier club side to record 18 successive home league games since the league started in 1888.
The Argentine's goal helped Newcastle United to a two-goal advantage, but the team could not hold the lead as Wolverhampton fought back behind goal from Matt Jarvis and Kevin Doyle for a 2-2 draw.
Lavezzi, another Argentine striker, continued his scoring spree by firing home the lone goal for Napoli in its 1-0 victory over struggling Inter Milan. Lavezzi scored just before the hour mark. Blerim Dzemaili set up Lavezzi, who shot into the far right corner for his fourth goal in three matches. Last week Lavezzi connected for a brace in Napoli's 3-1 victory in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal.
Arturo Vidal, Marcelo Estigarribia
Vidal, a Chilean defensive midfielder, was red-carded late in the game after he tackled Philippe Mexes from behind of Juventus' 1-1 tie with Serie A leader A.C. Milan. Juve's Estigarribia, a Paraguayan, had a goal denied as Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati made a vital save. Juve is a point behind Milan with a game in hand.
The Argentine scored twice in the final 18 minutes, including his second goal deep into added time to give Genoa a 2-2 tie with Parma, which snapped its three-game losing streak. After Parma grabbed a two-goal advantage, Palacio paced Parma's comeback. He put home his own rebound in the 78th minute before he slotted home a Cristobal Jorquera feed in traffic into the lower right corner with time running out.
Lionel Messi, Radamel Falcao
Noticing that Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was out of position as he set up for a free kick, Messi took a quick free kick and set the ball into far right corner for a magnificent goal in the 81st minute, which lifted Barecelona to a 2-1 La Liga road triumph. It was the Argentine's 28th goal for Barca, which still trails leader Real Madrid by 10 points. Messi also helped create Barca's first goal. Falcao, a Colombian, equalized in the second half. Ronaldo's score helped Real Madrid to a 1-0 win over Rayo Vallecano.
Guardado, a Mexican international midfielder, and his Deportivo La Coruña teammates came up goose eggs in a 1-0 loss to Sabadell in the Spanish Second Division. In what was considered one of the team's poorest, if not worst performances of the season, Deportivo could not find the back of the net. Still, Deportivo remained in first place with a 17-6-3 record and 54 points, a two-point lead over RC Celta (16-6-4, 52). Guardado was involved in a handful of opportunities to score. His best probably came in the 35th minute when he sent the ball into the penalty area to forward Riki, who could not do anything in front of the net.
The Peruvian striker endured a difficult afternoon in Werder Bremen's 1-0 defeat to Nuremberg. Pizarro shot wide before halftime before he hit the woodwork after rounding the keeper. He then set up Marko Marin in the 61st minute, but his teammate sent the ball over the crossbar from close range. “Unfortunately we didn’t take our chances," Pizarro was quoted by the Associated Press. "Sometimes the ball doesn’t want to go in, and this season we’ve hit the post pretty often.”
The Venezuelan's free kick set up Mike Hanke just before halftime for the first goal in Borussia Moenchengladbach's 1-1 deadlock with Hamburg. The tie denied Borussia from taking a provisional share of the Bundesliga lead.
The Argentine striker gave Lyon a 2-1 edge in the 36th minute, but that was far from being the lone goal of the match as his team was forced to settle for a wild 4-4 draw with Paris Saint-Germain.
The Mexico international goalkeeper made five saves as Ajaccio got back to its winning ways in a 2-1 victory over Dijon in a French Ligue 1 match on Saturday. Ajaccio scored its goals in consecutive minutes early in the second half. Eduardo lifted the home side to a 1-0 lead in the 54th minute before Johan Cavalli tallied a minute later. Bennard Kumordzi sliced the lead in half in the 66th minute.
The Colombian, a substitute, scored Porto's second goal in the 72nd minute en route to a 2-0 win over Feirense. The victory pushed Porto into first place.
Juan Roman Riquelme
Riquelme, an Argentine international midfielder, scored Boca Juniors’ second goal off a 25-yard free kick in its 2-0 victory over Newell’s Old Boys. The win, which extended Boca’s unbeaten streak to 34 games, moved the club into third place.
The Spanish midfielder headed home a goal for OFI in the 66th minute to give OFI a 1-1 tie with AEK. The game was played in front of an empty house at Athens Olympic Stadium, which has a capacity of 70,000, because AEK owes back taxes and could not issue tickets.
Izaguirre, a Honduran international defender, watched from the bench as Celtic registered its 20th consecutive win in all competitions in a 1-0 triumph over Motherwell at Celtic Park. Celtic, which has won 17 in a row in the Scottish Premier League, enjoys a 23-point lead.
Luis Eduardo Zapata
The Colorado Rapids signed Zapata, a veteran left fullback from Cali, Colombia. Nicknamed “El Morumbi,” Zapata had been training with the Rapids throughout the pre-season. He will be eligible to play pending receipt of his P-1visa and International Transfer Certificate.
Michael Lewis, who has covered eight World Cups and has been reporting about soccer for four decades, can be reached at SoccerWriter516@aol.com or via Twitter at @soccerwriter.
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