Same old story

Ledesma holds off Shaffer

Saturday saw two clásicos in Primera A. Estudiantes beat Gimnasia ‘away’ in the Estadio Municipal de La Plata, Ezequiel Maggiolo scoring twice either side of Federico Domínguez’s equaliser, and both sides having two men sent off. But if you think that makes a front page-worthy match in Argentina, think again. Because Racing took the lead against Boca in La Bombonera, and played better than their opponents for a large part of the match – but were undone by a goal that shouldn’t have been allowed, and a winner from a debutant. With almost the last kick of the match. FIve minutes into stoppage time.

The match was just fourteen minutes old when Reinaldo Navia silenced the Boca faithful with a header from a Maxi Moralez cross that left Boca’s backup goalkeeper, Pablo Migliore, without a chance. Boca’s side consisted entirely of players who’d normally be competing for a place on the bench, if that – only Pablo Ledesma and Neri Cardozo could really claim to have started with any regularity for the club before. That was a surprise, because after the previous weekend’s defeat to Estudiantes, followed with the messy 2-2 draw with Atlas in the Copa Libertadores in midweek, Boca needed to get back up and running.

They couldn’t. After taking the lead, Racing – as much to their own surprise, surely, as to everyone else’s – just got better. Full backs José Shaffer and Gabriel Mercado hared forwards and gave real width to the attack of a side determined to get a better result than the ones they’ve been settling for all season. Boca’s young guns, under such pressure, simply couldn’t get out of their half, even in front of their own fans.

In the second half, Boca came further forward, Racing sat slightly deeper, but still found themselves under little pressure. Leandro Gracián, understudy rather than partner on this ocassion for Juan Román Riquelme, wasn’t having his best day, whilst Neri Cardozo was making two mistakes for each good bit of play he was involved in. Racing, without ever managing the domination of the first half, actually looked comfortable. This, though, is Racing, and somehow you just knew it couldn’t last. Even Racing fans, though, must have been staring in disbelief at how cruelly this match was snatched away from them.

With 13 minutes of the 90 remaining, Pablo Ledesma sent a cross into the Racing penalty box. Boca substitute Cristán Chávez sprung Racing’s offside trap and controlled the ball perfectly – but, clearly to everyone watching, with his hand. He cut the ball back for Gabriel Paletta to stick it into the net, but it was obvious the goal wasn’t going to stand. Except that referee Carlos Maglio did allow it. Unable to comprehend how two of the three points had been taken from them, Racing were a bundle of nerves for the remainder of the game. That was most clearly manifested when, in the 85th minute, Shaffer was sent off for headbutting Boca’s young debutant Ricardo Noir.

It was Noir who was to have the last laugh, though. Paletta’s goal wasn’t to be the last moment of controversy in the match, because the referee raised a few eyebrows as he played no fewer than five minutes of time added on. It was in the last of those, with virtually the very last touch of a match his team didn’t deserve to win, that the youngster won it. Taking the ball in the area, he hit a left-footed shot across the goal. It was perfectly placed, and José Martínez Gullota in the Racing goal didn’t stand a chance.

Juan Manuel Llop has undeniably improved the play of this Racing team, but still they can’t so much as buy a win. Central play Arsenal later in the day, and if they can contrive to win, La Academia will be a long way off the place. One of Argentina’s Big Five, almost certainly, will be playing in the relegation playoffs in a couple of months. And if their luck continues this badly, it could well be a winter of discontent in El Cilindro.

6 thoughts on “Same old story

  1. Yea, Racing in very tough luck. How does the ref miss that handball ? The five minutes I thought was understandable given many second period stoppages, but the handball miss was inexcusable. Boca was also fortunate that Migliore was not tested much. He was hopelessly out of position on the corner kick where Racing scored. He looked like a man being pushed off a cliff. Well, another disaster for Seba and Boca still has a chance in the local play if they don’t get by Atlas.

  2. I had a wedding party (both the bride and groom are Racing fans!). Anyway…I’m knackered and I’ll comment on how I saw the match and the aftermath after I take a well-deserved Sunday nap!

    I’m beginning to turn around the corner now and I’ve stopped believing we have a chance to avoid the promoción. I don’t think we do. But again…I’ll give you my comments on the match a little later.

  3. Sorry, but I can’t restrain myself from noting that Javier Zanetti has now captained Inter to three consecutive scudetti; something that the Nerazzuri have never managed in their 100 years on this mortal coil.

    Grazie Capitano.

  4. So…what about the constant robbery we are being victims of???

    I mean…2 offside-goals by Lanús to help them get a 3-3 draw. Those ridiculous calls against Estudiantes, a red card for Maxi, a disallowed goal that took the ref a year to call it, after Maxi ran from midfield. The decision to make us play San Martín de San Juan on neutral ground and no public (when we all saw the battle between River Plate fans and no measures taken against them). A clear hand-ball by Gerlo inside the box when we drew 0-0 at River. And now this incredible hand-ball by Chavez that changed the game and kept us from winning at La Bombonera.

    I don’t know how many points would Racing have if those calls would have been fair. I don’t even want to do the math.

    That said…I can’t believe the way we are playing. Two lines of 4 players sitting very deep everytime we score a goal. And they sit there and kick and hoof until the concede a goal. And then they continue with that horrible tactic until they concede another one (often in injury time -like against Lanús, Rosario Central and Boca-). That’s not happening by chance. That’s happening for a reason. We are afraid to win. We are not just a horrible team. We are a horrible team that is afraid to win. There is no other explanation.

    My only wish (and I know it won’t become true) is to prevent Independiente to beat us and send us to the promoción. I just wish we can hold on until after that match.

    And allow me to go back to the whole refereeing-killing-Racing thing. If this series of bad calls would have been against Boca, River or perhaps even Independiente and San Lorenzo, I believe the refs would have been more ready to start calling things on their favour in the following matches. Why that doesn’t happen with Racing is a clear indication the AFA doesn’t want things to change. I’m not a fan of conspiracy theories, but I hate to see evidences week in, week out.

  5. Was that Gabriel Paletta captaining Boca? When (and how) did that happen? He really struggled at Liverpool so am wondering whether he has recaptured his form back in Argentina.

  6. Yes Pawlu. It’s the best argument for players not moving to Europe at quite such early ages, if you ask me – homesickness or too quick a change of scene / language / culture can seriously affect a player. Of course, it’s the player’s decision ultimately and everyone reacts differently. Paletta (who joined Boca in January) looks much more at home again now he’s – um – back home.

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