Tough at the top

Velez 2-2 Racing

On Saturday afternoon, Ferro Carril Oeste beat Chacarita Juniors 2-0 to leave things at the top of B Nacional more congested than ever, but later on was another meeting of title chasers, as Vélez Sársfield, top of Primera A, hosted Racing Club, who amazingly would have gone fifth with a win. Some thing never change, though. Racing still have an identical record to Vélez since Ricardo Caruso Lombardi took charge – they led 2-0 but faded towards the end, and the leaders claimed a point. Colón trail by three points, thanks to Esteban Fuertes’s 98th and 99th strikes for the club.

Racing took the lead on the stroke of half time thanks to a strike from Claudio Yacob which merely served to underline the visitors’ superiority during the first period. With pressure in the middle of the pitch and crossing from wide areas the main gameplan, Racing were pinning the leaders back, at times, into their own box, with Franco Sosa impressing particularly, and the lead was fully deserved at the interval.

Shortly after the break, Rubén Ramírez doubled the lead and the Avellaneda side were in dreamland. Ricardo Caruso Lombardi, though, remained on the touchline, watching his charges, aware that the match wasn’t over yet. Vélez’s response, in a match during which they were by some distance second best in front of their own fans, was the stuff champions are made of. With just under 15 minutes to go, Sebastián Domínguez pulled one back with a header from a free kick near the corner flag, and Víctor Zapata levelled the scores in the 87th minute with a stonking free kick from 30 yards.

There followed a crazy period of stoppage time during which Racing had a player punched in the stomach in the Vélez box during the buildup to an attacking free kick (TV replays only picked it up afterwards and no penalty was given), Lucas Castromán returned to form by smashing a ball against the post, and Vélez promptly went up the other end and missed an open goal with virtually the last kick. A magnificent game ended all square, but for Caruso’s boys another match without defeat might even feel like they’ve been short changed. Racing are getting fussy…

Colón meanwhile will take any points they can get. They took their time to beat San Martín de Tucumán, but eventually overcame their relegation-threatened visitors with two second half goals from Esteban Fuertes, one in the 65th and one in the 89th minutes. The win leaves them just three points behind Vélez, and keeps alive dreams of a title in Santa Fe. Elsewhere on Saturday, Arsenal drew 0-0 with Gimnasia La Plata.

Friday’s matches saw Banfield come back from the dead against Gimnasia de Jujuy in a supremely entertaining match during which the hosts hit the woodwork… well, I made it four times, but it seemed like many more. Ricardo Gómez and Walter Busse gave the jujeños an early 2-0 lead before Santiago Silva got one back in the 26th minute and, ten minutes after the break, Sebastián Fernández scored what turned out to be the last goal of the match. In the evening’s other match, Tigre were held 1-1 by Argentinos. Gabriel Peñalba put Argentinos ahead in the 22nd minute before Carlos Luna equalised just six minutes later.

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