Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez ensured that despite some disappointments along the way the 2016/17 season was still one to savour for the Leverkusen striker.
After enjoying his maiden campaign in the Bundesliga following his summer 2015 move from Manchester United, Leverkusen’s Mexico international star found his 17 goal top-flight debut haul tough to match.
Not that you would have thought he would after a rampaging start that saw him net five goals in as many Bundesliga games in a rip-snorting start the season, including a hat-trick against Mainz and a strike in a win over Borussia Dortmund.
The early season promise inexplicably faded, however, for both striker and club.
‘Chicharito’ failed to find the net again in the Hinrunde, only breaking an 11-game drought on Matchday 18 with a mini-glut of five goals in three Bundesliga outings to take him into double figures.
Only one more Bundesliga strike arrived as the remainder of the campaign peetered out, but there was still one major highlight to come.
Read: Ten things on new Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich
With three minutes left of Mexico’s friendly with Croatia in Los Angeles on 28 May, ‘Chicharito’ pounced to claim his 47th international goal and move past Jared Borgetti to become El Tri’s all-time leading scorer.
*Translation: Chicharito scored a goal and is now Mexico’s all-time top scorer! Congratulations!
The accolade bears testament to the razor-sharp nose for goal and explosive anticipation of a great goalscorer, and left Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho regretting the decision of predecessor Louis van Gaal to allow the ‘Little Pea’ to join Leverkusen.
“We have good players, they are creative players, they can create, but they are not the kind of guy that is naturally a killer,” the former Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid boss said after seeing all but Zlatan Ibrahimovic struggle for goals last season.
“I give a simple example — in the way we play at Old Trafford, in the way we dominate opponents, in the way we play in the box, I think Chicharito would have scored 20 goals easy. Even coming from the bench for the last 10 or 20 minutes, he would have 20 goals. He is the guy that naturally the ball comes here, rebound here, rebounds there, boom, goal. The goalkeeper saves, he goes there, boom, goal. The cross is coming, he anticipates the first-post header, goal.”
Defences at the upcoming FIFA Confederations Cup, staged by 2018 FIFA World Cup hosts Russia, have been warned!
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