Appearing at the end of the tunnel? A draw or a Tigre win in Sunday evening’s game would have made the championship race insanely close given some of the other results we’ve had this weekend. But after one hour of play in El Sur, Matías Fritzler scored the goal which won the game for Lanús, and there are three clear points now separating first from second – before this weekend, the same total was the gap between first and fifth.
After the clásicos were over, it was time for an unlikely summit meeting – a side who’ve never won a title before playing a side whose best ever season was a sixth-place finish over half a century ago for the right to go top of the league with three matches remaining. And unlike those more famous ties played elsewhere today and yesterday, this one saw two sides at the top of their games, playing some really good football.
Lanús took the lead before Tigre had managed to bother home ‘keeper Carlos Bossio, a good attack being brought to an abrupt end when Alexis Ferrero brought Sebastián Blanco to ground in the area. José Sand converted the resulting penalty to break the deadlock, 15 minutes in.
After the goal, Tigre were stirred, and in particular midfielder Matías Galmarini, who became more and more influential, whilst Diego Castaño alongside did the dirty work of winning the ball back for him. On 33 minutes, striker Sebastián Ereros got to the ball wide on the left and sent over a lofted centre which Leandro Lázzaro rose like a salmon to meet with his head and pull the visitors back level.
Three great saves before the break from ‘keeper Daniel Islas kept Tigre on level terms, and in the second half the match swung from end to end. In the 58th minute, Blanco sent in a crashing drive which hit the Tigre bar and should have given the guests a warning. It wasn’t heeded. Two minutes later, Lanús had the lead as Fritzler rose above the mob to head home a free kick from the right. The goal generated fury in Tigre’s ranks, Castaño accusing left midfielder Sebastián Rusculleda (correctly) of having lost his man. Both were substituted as the half wore on, and what the match lost in quality it made up for in emotion as Tigre sought the equaliser and Lanús tried to extend their lead.
Neither came, but Lanús were happy just the same, and left the pitch to the sound of their fans chanting ‘¡Dale, campeón!‘ (‘Come on, champions!’). It’s not a chant any Lanús player has heard before. But with a three point advantage over Boca, it’s starting to look like the meeting of the two at La Bombonera on the penultimate weekend could be an unanticipated championship decider…