At the start of play this weekend, Arsenal de Sarandí were bottom of the Torneo Clausura, and Lanús were top. In most leagues it would have been a foregone conclusion – but this is Argentina. Bottom beat top 4-1, and after Colón khad ept up what little heat they could add to the title race with a win on Friday night, there was a high pressure win for Vélez Sársfield (the new leaders). River Plate played pretty well too, for a change, with a Uruguayan forward at the forefront. The second coming?
Friday’s matches saw Banfield demolish Independiente 5-0 in El Viaducto with goals from Santiago Silva (twice), Víctor López, Seba Fernández and Julio Barraza, and a win for Colón, 2-0 over Gimnasia La Plata – Esteban Fuertes and Lucas Acosta the goalscorers – which ensures Racing cannot now suffer automatic relegation. A win on Sunday and, incredibly, they’ll be completely out of danger.
Lanús have obviously been knocked off their stride by a fortnight away from competitive action, and relinquished their leadership of the table in spectacular fashion on Saturday. The visitors scored through Maxi Velázquez after 26 minutes, but unfortunately for them they were already 3-0 down before that strike. Those early goals – two from Cristian Pellerano and a penalty from Sergio Sena – were all the damage that needed be done. The final insult came in the form of a stoppage-time counter attack finished off by young Darío Benedetto to make it 4-1.
River Plate’s home match with Tigre was a potential Copa Sudamericana decider, although of course the reality is that Tigre are the only ones for whom it would have been decisive either way – CONMEBOL’s policy of inviting River and Boca Juniors to play whether or not they’ve qualified ensures that. At any rate, Néstor Gorosito left Radamel Falcao García on the bench and gave Uruguayan starlet Robert Flores – who regular HEGS readers may recall stated a desire to become as a great a figure at the club as Enzo Francescoli when he signed for the club last year – a rare start which paid off wonderfully for him. Leandro Lázzaro struck in the first minute for Tigre, but Flores put the hosts level six minutes before the break, and with Falcao replacing midfielder Diego Barrado in the 56th minute River completed the win with goals from the Colombian and Cristian ‘El Flaco‘ Fabbiani.
Whilst Arsenal were thrashing Lanús, the other title contenders, Vélez, were replacing the Granate at the top of the table with a 2-0 win in Liniers over Newell’s Old Boys. Rodrigo López and Maxi Moralez scored the goals for El Fortín, and Lucas Bernardi saw red for the visitors just before half time.
That win for Vélez means Colón de Santa Fé are only just still in the title race – they’re fourth, five points behind the leaders with just two matches left. If Huracán win their clásico ‘away’ to San Lorenzo tomorrow, the last two games will be very tight: three points for them tomorrow would give them 35 points, with Vélez (36) and Lanús (34) the other contenders. Next weekend, Lanús host Vélez. On the final weekend, Vélez are at home to Huracán. But El Globo will want to get San Lorenzo out of the way first…