Javier Hernández, aka Chicharito, is back after easily enjoying his best week of the season for Manchester United.
On Wednesday, the Mexican international tallied in stoppage time to help ManU secure a 3-1 win over Braga in the UEFA Champions League.
On Saturday, he took it up a notch or two, by scoring twice and making a pretty good case for a hat-trick in United's 3-2 victory over Aston Villa in Birmingham, England in the English Premier League.
Hernández came on at halftime for United, which was trailing 1-0 at the time. Andreas Weimann’s second goal extended Villa’s lead to 2-0 at Villa Park.
He broke a 2-2 deadlock, heading home Robin van Persie’s free kick in the 87th minute.
“It felt unbelievable to score the winner,” Hernandez told MUTV. “But the most important thing is we get the three points and we’re still on the top with a four-point gap. We’re very happy.”
Weimann scored a minute into first-half stoppage and added his second in the 50th minute.
Then Chicharito took center stage. He cut the Villa advantage in half in the 58th minute and six minutes later, defender Ron Vlaar accidentally knocked in a Hernández shot for a 2-2 tie.
“I’ve seen the replay and I think it’s going on target,” Hernández told MUTV. “The defender tried to get it away but I think he kicked it in the same direction as I shot.”
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said that he planned to start the Mexican at Norwich City next week.
“As I have been saying for the last few weeks, he’s fresh as he had a good summer break and it’s made a difference to him,” Ferguson told Sky Sports. “When he came to us two years ago, that’s what we’re seeing again today and, when you score a hat-trick, you pick yourself. I think he’ll be playing next week.
“He does his natural thing. He’s fantastic in the penalty box with his movement, his quickness and being in space and that has got him three goals today.”
Suárez, a Uruguayan standout, played a unique role in Liverpool's 1-1 tie with Chelsea. He collided with Chelsea captain John Terry, who was forced out with a knee injury after scoring the first goal in the 20th minute. Suárez headed in the equalizer in the 73rd minute. It was the fourth consecutive game Suárez had scored as he has found the back of the net eight times for the Reds in EPL play this season.
Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, David Villa
An Argentine international, Aguero helped Manchester City to a 2-1 win over Tottenham. Aguero tallied the equalizer in the 65th minute, beating former U.S. international goalkeeper Brad Friedel. Edin Dzeko who replaced Tevez, another Argentinean in the 73rd minute, struck for the game-winner in the 88th minute. Villa, a Spanish international, set up the goal with a chipped pass.
Lionel Messi, Alexis Sánchez
Lionel Messi passed yet another milestone after scoring two more goals in yet another Barcelona victory. His brace helped Barca to a 4-2 La Liga triumph at Real Mallorca. The Argentine great has 76 goals this year domestically and internationally, moving him past Pele on the all-time list. He trails only former German international Gerd Mueller, who tallied 85 times in 1972. Messi, who had his new-born son’s name Thiago written on his boots, scored to give the visitors to a 2-0 lead in the 44th minute. After Mallorca battled back to 3-2, Messi added an insurance goal after Chilean Sanchez chested down a Daniel Alves cross in the 70th minute. Messi, incidentally, has 15 goals, three more than Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored once in Real Madrid's 2-1 win at Levante. Barca is unbeaten in 11 matches with a stunning 10-0-1 mark as it kept its three-point lead over Atletico Madrid.
Carlos Vela, Javier Saviola
The Mexican international literally started Real Sociedad to a 2-1 triumph over Malaga. He scored in the opening minute for the visitors as his slid in a low cross. Saviola, a former Argentine international striker, equalized off a corner kick in the 37th minute before Xavier Prieto found the back of the net for the game-winner.
The Venezuelan converted a penalty kick in the 65th minute for Real Valladolid in its 1-1 tie with visiting Valencia. French fullback Aly Cissokho, who had given Valencia a 44th-minute advantage, knocked down Julián Omar in the penalty area as he was red carded, setting up Pérez's penalty.
Cabral, an Argentine native, did not help his cause at all as he was red-carded in the 40th minute of Celta Vigo's 3-2 loss at Rayo Vallecano. The visitors enjoyed a 2-0 lead at the time thanks to an Iago Aspas brace before playing a man down caught up with them in the second half. Leonardo Carrilho Baptistao (59th minute), Tito (72nd minute), and Piti (penalty kick in the 82nd minute) scored for the winners.
Rodrigo Palacio, Fredy Guarin, German Denis, Facundo Parra
Atalanta snapped Inter's seven-game winning streak by recording its fourth win in its last five matches in a 3-2 win. After Guarin, a Colombian, knotted things up for Inter at 1-1 in the 56th minute, Denis, an Argentinean, boosted Atalanta into the lead four minutes later before he extended the margin to 3-1 by converting a penalty in the 67th minute. An another Argentine, Palacio pushed Inter within 3-2 in the 84th minute. Yet another Argentine player, Parra, was red-carded in stoppage time, but Atalanta survived.
The 18-year-old Argentinean forward buried two goals to help Palmero bury Sampdoria, 2-0, in Serie A. Starting his sixth consecutive game, Dybala struck in the 52nd and 71st minutes. "He has talent and I'm sure it won't go to his head," Palermo coach Gian Piero Gasperini was quoted by Reuters. "He has shown that he can be important for the team. He is a player who knows how to score goals, he's very quick and he can unlock a match. He needs to keep improving and he has all the potential to be a great player."
Vidal, a Chilean midfielder, ignited Juventus to a 6-1 away thumping of Pescara. He scored in the ninth minute, opening the floodgates for Juve, which rolled to a 5-1 halftime lead. He raced toward the Pescara goal, running onto a Sebastian Giovinco through ball before scoring.
The Argentine's diving header gave AS Roma a ninth-minute lead, but it could not hold off archrival Lazio in a 3-2 derby loss in Rome. Lamela put in Francesco Totti's corner kick for his eighth goal this season.
Cavani equalized in the 79th minute to spark Napoli a 4-2 comeback victory at Genoa. The Uruguayan took a pass from Marek Hamsik and ran around goalkeeper Sebastien Frey as he tallied his eighth this season for a 2-2 deadlock. Napoli added goals by Hamsik (90th minute) and Lorenzo Insigne (stoppage time).
The Mexican international goalkeeper made three saves, including two vital ones, in AC Ajaccio's 4-2 win at Toulouse. He denied Franck Tabanou twice early in the second half. His first save came off a header and then from point-blank range.
Barcos, an Argentinean, scored in the second half of Palmeiras' 3-2 loss to Fluminense, which clinched the Brazilian championship with three matches remaining.
Oscar Boniek Garica
Garcia, a Honduran international, set up Andre Hainault's goal in the 51st minute to help the host Houston Dynamo to a 3-1 win over D.C. United in the first leg of its Major League Soccer Eastern Conference final. Garcia sent a low pass from the left side to Hainault, who beat goalkeeper Joe Willis from five yards to equalize at 1-1. The second leg is in Washington, D.C. on Sunday.
FC Dallas striker Blas Perez will have to sit out the first two games of the season. The MLS disciplinary committee suspended the Panamanian star for two games and fined him an undisclosed fine for his violent conduct in Dallas’ regular-season finale against Chivas USA on Oct. 28. The committee ruled that Perez endangered the safety of Chivas’ Bobby Burling.
Michael Lewis, who has covered international soccer for more than three decades, can be reached at SoccerWriter516@aol.com.