In the end, it was a miracle too far for Tigre, who fell 1-0 away to Argentinos. At the same time, in La Bombonera, Lanús were putting the seal on an astonishing Apertura by getting the result they needed against Boca Juniors, away from home. José Sand’s first-half goal was cancelled out by Martín Palermo in the second, but when Fabián Vargas was sent off for the hosts minutes later, it gave Lanús the advantage they needed to hang on. For the first time in their 92-year history, El Granate are the champions of Argentina.
‘The most surprising champions, the champions of good intentions, the champions of the kids, the champions who play with ease, the champions of a master conductor like [Ramón] Cabrero,’ was how Olé‘s correspondent described the newly-crowned kings of Argentine football. One year on from denying Boca a third straight domestic title, Lanús claimed their own first ever, on the same pitch.
River Plate are once again made to look like incredibly bad judges of which players to keep: a couple of seasons ago they sold Daniel Montenegro to Independiente. He went on to be perhaps the best player in Argentina in the year that followed. Last January, they let Gastón Fernández go to San Lorenzo, for no good reason – his goals helped them to a league title. And now José Sand, judged not good enough for River a few years ago, has helped lead a side to their first ever championship, scoring the goal that set them on their way in La Bombonera.
Lanús join an illustrious list of clubs – only three sides (other than Boca of course) have been crowned champions in La Bombonera: River (twice), Racing and Newell’s. A first half without too many incidents at either end was sparked into life when Sand rose to power home a header from a corner and send the away fans into raptures. By that time, Tigre were already trailing Argentinos to what would turn out to be that match’s only goal, and Lanús had the added cushion they needed.
In the second half, although it was more entertaining, Martín Palermo’s header didn’t cause the visitors any undue worry. Lanús kept pressing for a winner, but against ten men never looked in too much danger of conceding another – and in the event even if they had done, it wouldn’t have mattered. Four minutes of stoppage time lasted an eternity, but after 92 years Lanús fans could afford to wait another few moments. With the final whistle came unbridled joy on the visiting bench and high up in the stands, were the away fans were gathered. Lanús, for the first time ever, are the champions of Argentina. ¡Felicidades!
Photo pinched from lanacion.com.ar