After a horrible, endless wait since, oh, a month-and-a-half or so ago, competitive football returned to Argentine soil on Tuesday night as Independiente met Estudiantes de La Plata in the first round of the Copa Sudamericana. It was looking pretty good for Estudiantes, who had an away goal to push them slightly ahead thanks to debutant Mauro Boselli until, almost on the whistle, Darío Gandín marked his own debut, for El Rojo, with a winner. 2-1 it finished. In China, meanwhile, there were blows to Argentina’s medal hopes for the women and the men.
It was a dramatic last-minute intervention in keeping with the manner in which Gandín ended up featuring in this match in the first place, because his transfer to Independiente from Colón was only officially approved by the AFA one-and-three-quarter hours before the match kicked off. Independiente took the lead midway through the first half courtesy of another debutant, Leonel Núñez, but let standards slip thereafter and Mauro Boselli headed Estudiantes level from a free kick shortly after the break.
When Hernán Fredes had to be subbed due to injury, the stage was set for Gandín’s debut, and after a couple of chances had been wasted, two minutes into stoppage time the right-winger marked his first appearance for the Avellaneda side in brilliant fashion with the winner. Estudiantes have the away goal, but thanks to their new boy, Independiente will travel to La Plata for the second leg with the advantage.
In China, the womens’ football team begun their Olympic Football Tournament campaign with a 2-1 loss to Canada, Ludmila Manicler scoring Argentina’s consolation. For the men, a problem: the Court Of Arbitration For Sport have, slighlty bafflingly, declared that the OFT isn’t on FIFA’s calendar (FIFA themselves say it is), and have declared, as such, that Barcelona are not obliged to release Lionel Messi for the Games. What happens next? Well, Messi said when FIFA’s decision went through last week that if the CAS said he had to return to his club, he would do. This one could run and run. But only until Thursday.
Check back on HEGS later for the goals from Independiente vs. Estudiantes and – if I can find them – Argentina vs. Canada.
I think Nunez is going to be big for Independiente this tournament