Lessons from South America: Neymar sparkles for Santos

Charlie Reynolds looks back at the week in South American football at both domestic and international level

By Charlie Reynolds

South America’s goal of the week

We kick off this South American round-up with the goal of the week. Last Wednesday, Lionel Messi made history with his five Champions League goals, but on the same day, Neymar grabbed himself a Copa Libertadores hat-trick for Santos against fellow Brazilian side Internacional. One Brazilian commentator has dubbed the day, 7 March, as world football’s ‘Day of the Goal’. Neymar’s second goal (above) was an exceptional individual effort.

Nine-goal thriller at La Bombonera

The undisputed game of this weekend’s Argentine Primera fixtures was Boca Juniors against Independiente. Coming into the game, Boca were undefeated in their last 33 league games and Independiente had lost four in a row, so a home victory looked likely. However, bottom-of-the-league Los Rojos had other ideas and stunned Boca with two goals in the first six minutes. The hosts managed to pull one back only for Independiente to score again through Ernesto Farías – although this was cancelled out by Juan Román Riquelme’s goal in first half stoppage time. Boca levelled early in the second half before completing a remarkable comeback by taking the lead with 16 minutes to play. However, Independiente were not quite finished, and Farías’ 90th-minute header looked to have grabbed his side a draw. This was not however the game’s final twist because the former River Plate striker went one better four minutes later, chasing a long clearance down, beating the final defender and chipping the goalkeeper from just inside the box to seal his hat-trick as well as a dramatic stoppage-time win for his team which brought an end to Boca’s impressive unbeaten streak.

Avellaneda fights back

Independiente were not the only club to turn their fortunes around this weekend. Their bitter Avellaneda rivals Racing Club as well as neighbours Arsenal de Sarandí, picked up their first wins in this season’s Clausura. Racing were particularly impressive, dispatching All Boys 3-0 at home thanks to a Lucas Castro hat trick, the pick of the goals coming after a 26-pass build up. Arsenal grabbed a valuable 1-0 away victory against Godoy Cruz as they look to avoid the relegation places.

Teixeira quits as head of Brazil confederation

Ricardo Teixeira, the controversial head of the Brazilian Football Confederation and the man in charge of organising the 2014 World Cup, has resigned after a string of corruption allegations. Teixeira, who has run the CBF since 1989, said he was standing down for medical reasons only a few days after he asked for temporary medical leave. He is reported to be suffering from diverticulitis, a painful inflammation of the bowel lining – but he had been under intense pressure to stand down. Former Brazil star Romário was one person who was pleased with the news, describing Teixeira as a “cancer” of Brazilian football. Teixeira has been replaced by José Maria Marin, who hit the headlines in January when presenting medals to the winners of a junior football tournament. He was caught on camera slipping one of the medals into his pocket, leading to allegations of theft.

Fan violence the scourge of South American football once again

Football hooliganism may have been known as ‘The English Disease’ in the past, but there can be no denying it is now the plague of South America, as two separate incidents proved this weekend. In Argentina, Chacarita Juniors’ stadium was temporarily shut after dozens were injured after their game with Atlanta on Sunday. Chacarita supporters attacked the referee and rival players before setting fire to several police cars sent to quell the violence, with the scene afterwards looking not dissimilar from a warzone. Colombia too saw violence between rival fans at the Medellin derby, with nine reported stabbed and hundreds arrested. Around 350 people were held by police with a reported 450 knives confiscated as well as a revolver following Independiente Medellín’s 2-1 victory over Atlético Nacional.

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