Fire Alumni Abroad

Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Mexican Liga de Ascenso side Irapuato advanced to the Apertura semifinals defeating Durango 4-3 on aggregate.

Hosting los alacranes last Wednesday, Blanco played 90 minutes and scored his third goal of the season in the 81st minute, giving his side a 2-0 lead going into Saturday’s return leg.

Back in Durango the home side didn’t waste time in looking to level the aggregate score line with Brazilian striker Eder Pacheco scoring twice in the first ten minutes (1st, 10th) to equalize the series.

Irapuato midfielder Jose Luis Lopez responded in the 23rd minute putting the visitors back on top 3-2, but Pacheco pulled things level again, completing a first half hat trick in the 32nd minute. The sides went into the interval knotted at 3-3 on aggregate.

After trading second half blows, Irapuato’s Argentinian striker Oscar Gonzalez put the visitors up 4-3 with his 80th minute strike. Despite a red card to Ezequiel Britez three minutes later, Irapuato hung on to advance to a semifinal series with Blanco’s old club Veracruz.

Irapuato will host the first on Tuesday, November 23 with the return leg to be played Friday, November 26.

Having returned from a neck strain that kept him out of five matches, U.S. international Carlos Bocanegra went 90 minute for French Ligue 1 side Saint Etienne Saturday, drawing 1-1 at home against Auxerre.

Given recent results, the draw was welcomed but also extends Saint Etienne’s league winless streak to six matches, last winning 1-0 on September 25 at Lyon. The streak has been highly detrimental to their league standing falling from top of the table to 10th in that time. Bocanegra’s side is 5-4-4 (19 points) but sit only five points back of league-leading Lille with a game in hand on the rest of the field.

Saint Etienne will hope to take all three points as they visit 14th place Nancy on Saturday.

Polish striker Tomasz Frankowski helped Jagiellonia Bialystok remain atop the Ekstraklasa table, playing 73 minutes in the club’s 4-2 win over Cracovia Krakow on Saturday.

Though he didn’t score in the match, the 36-year-old still leads the Polish first division with eight goals on the year.

The result moved Franek’s side to 9-3-2 on the year and coupled with Gornic Zabrze’s 2-1 upset over second place Korona Kielce extended Jagiellonia’s lead at the top of the table to five points heading into Sunday’s match at 12th place Ruch Chorzow.

Notes: U.S. international DaMarcus Beasley dressed but did not play for Hannover 96 in their 3-2 win over Freiburg on Saturday. The result moved Hannover to 7-5-1 (22 points) and fourth in the Bundesliga table