Having seen Tigre claim a stunning victory over Boca just before their own match against Gimnasia got underway, Lanús’s players knew they wouldn’t be celebrating their club’s first ever Argentine championship on Wednesday whatever happened. But they also knew they could get a lot closer to it with the right result. And so it proved.
For most of the first half, the match looked in doubt. Gimnasia were set on spoiling the party and Lanús struggled to break them down, frustrated again and again, until their saviour popped up. Following Leandro Lázzaro’s equaliser for Tigre against Boca earlier, Lanús’s own hero of the current campaign, José Sand, finally broke the deadlock with a goal either side of half time to put the league leaders in the driving seat.
Diego Valeri added a third just ten minutes into the second half, and the home crowd could finally relax and start the chanting. Now well in control, Lanús relaxed, but didn’t let the good football they’ve been so admired for from all sides disappear, playing like champions in front of an ecstatic crowd. When substitute defender Nelson Benítez popped up late on in the visiting box and finished a wonderful move like a seasoned striker to make it 4-0, it was just further emphasis of this.
Lanús are now three points clear of second-placed with one match remaining for both sides. A single point in La Bombonera on Sunday will be enough for them to ensure the title. If they lose, though, and Tigre win their match away to Argentinos, the two sides would be level and would need to play a one-off tie breaker to decide the championship. But for now, no-one’s thinking of that. Lanús have it in their own hands. They’ve got to enter the lair of the beast, it’s true, but Boca’s morale won’t be too high, having been knocked out of the race tonight. And will they be distracted by their upcoming trip to Japan?
Whatever happens, the incoming champions have won tonight. It just remains to be revealed which match it was that they were playing in…