By connecting for a hat-trick against A.C. Milan in the San Siro derby on Sunday, Diego Milito killed two birds with one stone.
The 32-year-old Argentine lifted Inter Milan to a 4-2 triumph over their archrival A.C. Milan. The result denied A.C. Milan the championship, and boosted Juventus to the title. Juve celebrated its ascension to its first Italian First Division crown since 2003 and 28th overall title with a 2-0 win over Cagliari with one game remaining in the season.
The confrontation between the Milan clubs turned out to be shootout between Milito and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who sparked Milan with two goals.
Milito started the personal duel with Ibrahimovic with a goal in the 14th minute, but Ibrahimovic netted the next two scores, including a controversial penalty kick late in the first half and a score with the second half only 30 seconds old.
But Inter was awarded two more penalties --Milito's equalizer in the 52nd minute and what proved to be the game-winner in the 80th minute for his 23rd goal of the season.
Brazilian right back Maicon put an exclamation point on the win with a marvelous strike in the 87th minute.
Javier Hernández, Antonio Valencia
Chicharito was given a rare start for Manchester United, but the Mexican international striker could not find the net in the 2-0 win over Swansea, a result that left the club's chances of winning the English Premier League title by a thread. With city-rival Manchester City also winning by the same score over Newcastle United, the two Manchester clubs are tied atop the EPL with 27-5-5 records and 86 points apiece. But City enjoys a plus eight goal-differential over United entering the teams' final matches of the season next week United plays at Sunderland and City hosts Queens Park Rangers.
Hernández, who got an opportunity to play due to an ailing Danny Welbeck, did have two close scoring encounters at Old Trafford.
Valencia, an Ecuadorian who helped create ManU's first goal in the 28th minute by Paul Scholes, set up Hernández minutes later as Hernández gave Ashley Young a pass that led to a corner kick. Young scored himself in the 41st minute. In the 59th minute, Hernández headed a close-range shot over the crossbar that would have given United a three-goal advantage.
The Argentine striker, who came on as a substitute, had a goal disallowed in the 73rd minute due to an offside call for Everton in its scoreless draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The Argentine enjoyed an energetic game for City. He did not score any goals, but set up Yaya Toure's first goal in the 70th minute after a give-and-go. Toure added another score in the 89th minute.
Messi struck for four more goals to give him 72 for the season for Barcelona in Pep Guardiola's final game at Nou Camp, a 4-0 rout of Espanyol. Fifty of those goals have come in La Liga and 251 in 327 Barca matches. For the record, the Argentine striker started his personal showcase with a free-kick goal in the 12th minute. He converted the first of his two penalty kicks in the 64th minute, fire home a left-footed effort in the 75th minute before burying another PK five minutes later. "Messi deservedly captured all the spotlights tonight," Guardiola said. "I hope that in the future he continues to play as well. He undoubtedly helped me a lot as a coach."
Barca will finish second to Real Madrid, edged Granada, 2-1, after securing the league title on Wednesday. Real overcame an early one-goal deficit as equalized on Christian Ronaldo converted a penalty kick in the 80th minute and David Cortes scored in stoppage time for the game-winner.
Returning to the lineup after missing last week's match with a hamstring injury, the Mexican international midfielder converted a penalty kick in the 24th minute that helped Déportivo de la Coruña to a 1-1 tie with Real Valladolid in a confrontation of first- and second-place teams, respectively. Guardado, who scored his 10th goal of the Spanish Second Division season, reportedly was exhausted and needed to be replaced in the 78th minute. The visitors managed to escape with a point on a goal by Manucho three minutes into stoppage time.
Atlético Madrid, Athletic Bilboa
These two La Liga rivals prepared for their Europa Cup on Wednesday in different way. Atlético rallied for a 2-1 victory over Malaga while Athletic Bilboa played a scoreless draw with Getafe. Eliseu's brilliant goal lifted Málaga a 1-0 lead in the 38th minute. But Koke equalized, putting in a rebound of a corner kick in the 69th minute. Adrian López tallied the game-winner after picking up a loose ball in the 80th minute. Atlético still can qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season as it visits Villarreal in its season finale this weekend.
The Argentinean was shown a red card in Genoa's 2-0 loss to Udinese, which moved closer to a UEFA Champions League berth. Palacio was dismissed in the 38th minute --the second Genoa player who was ejected-- with the hosts already holding a 1-0 lead.
A Uruguayan, Olivera set up the lone goal in Fiorentina's 1-0 victory at Lecce as Alessio Cerci scored from the left side of the penalty area in the 35th minute. The result ensured Fiorentina's survival in Serie A.
Juan Pablo Carrizo, Gabriel Heinze, Pablo Barrientos
Three Argentine players were involved in both sides of penalty kicks. Carrizo, a goalkeeper, was called for a penalty kick then saved it early in Catania's 2-2 draw with AS Roma. The hosts were awarded a controversial penalty after the referee ruled that Carrizo took down Fabio Borini in the penalty area. However, Carrizo stopped Francesco Totti's attempt. Totti sent the rebound over the crossbar. Five minutes later, Heinze brought down Barrientos in the penalty area and Catania was given a PK. Francesco Lodi converted it.
The Argentine created Paris Saint-Germain's third and fourth goals of its 4-3 win over Valenciennes, which put his club even with Montpellier atop Ligue 1. Montpellier can retake its three-point lead by defeating fifth-place Rennes on Monday. After that, PSG and Montpellier each will have three games remaining. Pastore set up Blaise Matuidi, who past goalkeeper Nicholas Penneteau for a 3-2 advantage. In the 58th minute, he found Jeremy Menez, who scored for a 4-2 lead.
It looks like it will go down to the wire for the Mexican international goalkeeper and Ajaccio. They suffered a 2-1 defeat at Evian-TG FC as their chances of survival in the top tier got a bit slimmer. Ajaccio (37 points), which is in 16th place out of 20 teams, is three points is still ahead of Dijon Auxerre by three points. But if both sides should win their games on Monday, Ajaccio will find itself in the dreaded relegation zone with two games remaining in the season. Ochoa and Ajaccio will play Lyon and Toulouse in their final two matches. It looked good early on for Ajaccio, which grabbed a 14th-minute lead on Benjamin Andre's goal. However, a minute later, Evian equalized on Cedric Barbosa's eighth goal of the season. Daniel Wass broke the deadlock in the 54th minute, firing home a free kick that Ochoa could not save. The Mexican denied Ali M'Madi from extending Evian's lead later on. Ochoa made three saves.
Izaguirre and his Celtic teammates thought a penalty kick should have been awarded late in their Scottish Premier League encounter at Dundee United, but referee Iain Brines thought otherwise. Brines waved away their appeals after the Honduran international defender's cross hit the hand of United substitute Keith Watson in the 75th minute in what turned into a 1-0 Celtic loss. Celtic, which already clinched the title had nothing to play for, while United needed the points to qualify for next season's Europa League. Midfielder Scott Robertson headed home the lone goal of the match midway through the first half.
The Venezuelan scored in the ninth minute to help Young Boys to a 2-0 lead by the 61st minute, but the hosts could not hold the lead and were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw with Lucerne.
José María Basanta scored in the 65th minute to lift Monterrey into a 2-2 draw with Tijuana in the second leg of the Clausura quarterfinal series, to win on aggregate goals, 4-3. The two-time defending CONCACAF Champions League champs certainly got of to a rough start in the match. Egidio Arévalo Ríos tallied for Tijuana in the ninth minute and Angel Reyna was red-carded in the 31st minute. But they would not give up. César Delgado equalized in the 45th minute and then Tijuana's Miguel Almazan was red-carded to even up the sides in the 50th minute. Ríos put Tijuana into the lead again in the 61st minute, but Basanta provided his heroics only four minutes later. Tijuana was not helped as halftime substitute Armando Pulido was given his marching orders in the 72nd minute.
Alvaro Saborio, Javier Morales
Saborio, a Costa Rican striker, connected for a brace in Real Salt Lake's 2-1 comeback win over the New England Revolution. The goals broke a four-game scoring drought for Saborio, whose last goal came against the Colorado Rapids on April 7. Saborio led RSL with 13 goals in all competitions in 2011. After the visitors scored in the 22nd minute, RSL and Saborio equalized 12 minutes later. Kyle Beckerman sent the ball into the middle of cluster of players outside of the goalmouth. Morales, an Argentine, headed it to the ground at Saborio’s feet and the Central American standout knocked it into an empty net. In the 55th minute Morales sent a free kick over a three-man defensive wall to Saborio near the far post. He out-jumped a defender and headed it home for a 2-1 advantage.
Mauro Rosales, Fredy Montero
The Argentine's 63rd-minute goal gave the host Seattle Sounders a 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Union. Montero had a tough afternoon, as the Colombian had a shot cleared off the line and hit the woodwork in the 86th minute.
Marco Pappa, Pavel Pardo, Juan Pablo Angel
A Guatemalan international midfielder, Pappa struck three minutes into stoppage time to lift the visiting Chicago Fire to a 2-1 comeback win over Chivas USA. Former Mexican international Pavel Pardo collected a turnover in the back before finding Pappa in space in the middle of the field. Pappa took a touch before playing a give-and-go with Federico Puppo on the right side. Puppo rushed into the offensive third, laying off to Pappa, who sent a left-footed blast past goalkeeper Dan Kennedy and inside the far post. “I think the match-ups were better, because that gave the freedom to Marco knowing the cover was behind him, to take a little more risk moving forward, he did a lot of work defensively,” Fire coach Frank Klopas said.
Angel, a former Colombian international, converted a penalty kick, his first goal of the season, gave the hosts a 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute, but Chicago equalized on rookie Austin Berry’s goal only two minutes later.
The Honduran international set up Chris Wondolowski’s league-high 11th goal in the San Jose Earthquakes’ 2-1 loss at the host Vancouver Whitecaps in Major League Soccer. Chávez found Wondolowski at the far post as the 29-year-old headed home past goalkeeper Joe Cannon in the 15th minute.
Blas Pérez, Jamie Castrillon, Martin Rivero
Pérez, a Panama international striker, was awarded a red card in the 36th minute, forcing FC Dallas to play the remainder of its encounter with the Colorado Rapids with only nine men. The result was a 2-0 win for visitors, who scored twice in the second half to pull away at FC Dallas Stadium. Daniel Hernández was the first player red-carded after picking up his second caution in the 34th minute of. Only two minutes later, Pérez was ejected from the match after colliding with Colorado defender Drew Moor. "I did see it as a 50-50 play, and I don’t think there was anything intentional," Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman said. "It was simply two players going for the ball and it is what it is."
Castrillon gave the Rapids all the scoring they needed in the 61st minute. Brian Mullen chipped a pass to the Argentine, who was standing at the edge of the goalmouth and headed it past goalkeeper Kevin Hartman. Rivero, an Argentine, tallied from 15 yards off another Mullen feed in the 74th minute.
CONCACAF U-17 Women's Championship
Mexico and Panama qualified for the semifinals of the confederation championship. Mariana Cadena and Jessica Morales scored two goals each for the Mexicans (2-0-0) in their 6-0 Group B win over the Bahamas. The U.S. (2-0) and Mexico will battle for the group title on Monday. Panama became the final team to qualify for the semifinals, recording a 1-1 draw with Jamaica. Marta Cox converted a penalty kick for Panama in the 73rd minute as both teams finished with four points apeice in Group A but Panama the place in the knockout round based on goal difference. The semifinal winners and the winner of the third-place game will qualify for the U-17 Women's World Cup later this year.
Michael Lewis, who has covered international soccer for more than three decades, can be reached at SoccerWriter516@aol.com.
Michael Lewis, who is the editor of BigAppleSoccer.com and soccer correspondent for Newsday, will be covering his eighth World Cup in Brazil.