One of the smaller clubs in the Greater Buenos Aires region hosted one of the biggest on Friday night, but a complete newcomer to Argentine football would have had difficulty picking out which was which. Racing have struggled for a while but now they’ve fallen to the curse of the perennial underdog – playing well but still losing by a distance. Banfield, meanwhile, got back to winning ways as they aim to improve on the third-place finish in the Apertura.
Racing manager Miguel Micó gave Maxi Moralez the first start of his second spell at the club, on the left wing to replace the injured Claudio Fileppi. Even out of position, Moralez looked good, as did Roberto Bonnet on the opposite wing, the two of them clearly setting out early on to provide Facundo Sava with as many crosses as he could throw himself at – and it worked, with Racing taking the lead early on after Sava himself got in at the far post to head home from a corner.
The remainder of the first half was very much Racing’s. Bonnet went close, and Chilean forward Reinaldo Navia did likewise, both sending the ball just past Christian Lucchetti’s right-hand post. Racing deserved to go in at the break at least two up, but the football gods – and Darío Cvitanich – don’t pay attention to what’s ‘deserved’ or not, and the Banfield front man levelled the scores five minutes before the break with a header, unchallenged in the middle of the area.
The second half was a different story, Banfield coming out more determined and holding the ball better than their visitors but not, at first, creating any danger. In the 57th minute Sava might have put Racing ahead again all the same, but saw his effort hit the crossbar – and it proved costly, because nine minutes later young defender Diego Menghi took out Cvitanich needlessly in the penalty box, and Banfield’s penalty-taking goalkeeper put the hosts into the lead.
After falling behind, Racing lost ideas and interest, and never looked like they were going to get what, until that point, they had deserved from the match. In the 90th minute, Nicolás Pavlovich was through on the Academia goal, saw Hilario Navarro block his first attempt, but followed up on the rebound to put the result beyond doubt. Racing’s nightmare continues, but Banfield have bounced back nicely from their opening week defeat to Estudiantes.