River Plate hadn’t won against any of the newly-promoted sides in the Apertura, and had one last chance to get it right on Saturday, when they played the one remaining – Olimpo – in Bahía Blanca. But managerless River, who’ve not won in eight matches in all competitions since the 21st October, succumbed in spectacular fashion. And for Racing, away to Huracán, it was no better.
Olimpo, struggling near the bottom of the table all season, couldn’t have expected anything from the match. Relying on the name of a club to win matches, though, isn’t much good without a team, and River were made to pay for a season of instability and lack of drive with a humbling defeat. Leonardo Ponzio, restored to midfield after having played at left-back since the brilliant victory over Boca in the superclásico (how long ago that now seems), smashed the post with a free kick early on, and it was only the most memorable of numerous River attempts on the home goal.
Former Boca player Gustavo Pinto, though, was the man to put the hosts into the lead in the tenth minute, pouncing on an error from River’s young debutant Maxi Oliva. River had chances to equalise before half-time but couldn’t take them, and in the second period the floodgates opened. Olimpo resigned to playing on the counter-attack, and doubled the lead in the 66th minute through a Javier Páez header. River continued to pressure but simply didn’t have the luck, and Olimpo took advantage with two goals in three minutes with around quarter-of-an-hour remaining, from Josemir Lujambio – a penalty after River defender Danilo Gerlo was sent from the pitch for a challenge in the box – and Leandro González.
A bad day for another ‘big’ club as well, as Racing also lost heavily away, 3-0 to Huracán in Argentinos’ stadium. Ossie Ardiles’s side are now five matches without defeat, and finished the match three men as well as three goals to the good, as racing had Claudio López, Franco Sosa and Maxi Estévez all sent off in three minutes at only 1-0 down. Christian Cellay opened the scoring two minutes in with a wonderful header, and Huracán, who live up to their manager’s reputation for open attacking football, could have had more before the break.
The match became heated around the 78th minute when Claudo López was sent off for foul language to the referee. Shortly after, Sosa made an absolutely appalling challenge on Iván Nadal and in the ensuing melée, Estévez also saw red for punching an Huracán official. Poor enough with eleven men, Racing fell to pieces with eight, and the hosts were in no mood to let them off the hook. Federico Nieto and Christian Sánchez Prette gave the scoreline a more representative look late on.
Photo nicked from ole.clarin.com