Javier Hernandez's early goal proved vital for Manchester United's progression in the Europa League, while Carlos Vela had a fine game as he set up Real Sociedad's winner.It was a moderately successful week for Mexican players plying their trade outside of their home country, with positive performances from Javier Hernandez and Carlos Vela highlighting an otherwise mundane week for Mexicans in Europe.
Chicharito back in the starting lineup, nets important goal
Another week brought another Europa League goal for Javier Hernandez, and once again, it proved to be a vital strike. In the sixth minute of Manchester United's second leg Round of 32 encounter versus Ajax, Hernandez latched onto an excellent pass from Dimitar Berbatov and finished emphatically with his left foot to put the Red Devils 1-0 up on the evening and 3-0 up on aggregate.
That goal, as well as his first leg strike, would prove vital, though, as Ajax stormed back with two goals, only to fall just short of an upset, with United edging the tie 3-2 on aggregate. It will face Athletic Bilbao in the Round of 16.
Hernandez also played in the team's 2-1 win at Norwich City over the weekend, starting and going 63 minutes without making the same impact he managed to make on United's midweek games.
Even less impactful, though, were Giovani dos Santos (Tottenham) and Antonio Pedroza (Crystal Palace), who were not called for their teams' London Derby matches – Tottenham lost 5-2 at Arsenal, while Palace held on for a 0-0 draw at West Ham. Up in Scotland, Efrain Juarez was not called to the squad for Celtic's 1-0 win over Motherwell.
Vela the lone bright spot in Spain
Carlos Vela's run of good form in Spain continued as he started for Real Sociedad and set up his team's only goal in a 1-0 win over Mallorca. The on-loan Arsenal man was in inspired form as he had strong penalty shouts turned down in the second half after an impressive weaving run into the area. Not long after though, he made good on his skill, as he burst into the box after a smart one-two down the left and sent a low cross to the feet of Imanol Agirretxe, who clipped the ball into the top corner for the winning goal. Vela was substituted in the 80th minute, just seconds after setting up the goal.
Hector Moreno also started for his team, going the full 90 minutes versus Getafe, only for Espanyol to fall 2-1 at home. Pablo Barrera's Zaragoza side was also in action, but he was not called to the squad and watched Malaga's 5-1 destruction of his team as a spectator.
There was little to cheer about for Mexican players in Spain's second division either. Jonathan dos Santos was suspended after picking up a red card in Barcelona B's loss to Deportivo, and had to watch the team's 1-0 home loss to Hercules from the stands.
Speaking of Deportivo, the second division leader fell found itself on the losing end in the league for the first time since Nov. 20, and its record-tying nine-game winning streak was ended during its trip to Sabadell. Andres Guardado played the full match, but he and his team were unable to stave off defeat. Despite the loss, Deportivo remains on top of the division, two points ahead of archival Celta de Vigo and comfortably in the race for automatic promotion to La Liga, six points clear of the playoff spots.
Anibal Zurdo started and played the full 90 minutes in Guadalajara's 2-0 loss at home against Villarreal B, while down in the fourth division, Taufic Guarch started and played 61 minutes in Espanyol B's 2-1 win at Manlleu.
Positive results for Ochoa, Rodriguez
Guillermo Ochoa and Ajaccio returned to winning ways after going three games without picking up the full three points, triumphing 2-1 at home against Dijon to continue the climb away from Ligue 1's relegation spots. Ochoa was fairly busy, making four saves, though he was unable to stop Bennard Kumordzi's 66th minute header from a set piece.
Over in Germany, Francisco Rodriguez put in a good performance off the bench as Stuttgart blew past Freiburg 4-1. Rodriguez entered the game in the 66th minute and put in a strong, if unspectacular defensive performance to help his team see out the victory.
Nery Castillo's Aris side was not in action as most Greek teams took the weekend off, with only one Sunday game on the docket.
In the Netherlands, Ulises Davila was not in the squad as Vitesse fell 1-0 at RKC Waalwijk, though he did take the time to speak to Goal.com about his time in Holland and hopes for the future at Chelsea, which owns his rights.
In Portugal, Edson Rivera was not called to the squad for Braga's derby clash at home against Vitoria Guimaraes.
The Croatian league restarted over the weekend, but Jose Delgadillo did not get a chance to play, as his Rijeka side was awarded a 3-0 win due to an ongoing legal dispute involving its opponent, Varazdin, over player payments.
Finally, in Colombia, Mario Garcia started and played the full 90 minutes in Boyaca Chico's 0-0 draw with Real Cartagena. He was not called in the team's 1-0 midweek win over Atletico Bucaramanga in the Copa Colombia, in which Boyaca is using a team largely composed of reserves.