Tuesday and Wednesday have seen some decent games in the midweek round of the Torneo Apertura, with Estudiantes regaining top spot with a 2-1 away win over Godoy Cruz on Tuesday, hours after champions Vélez moved into sixth (two points off the top) with a 2-1 win over Atlético Tucumán that came thanks to a very dodgy penalty. On Wednesday afternoon San Lorenzo stayed in touch with the leaders with a brilliantly dramatic 3-2 win over Arsenal. All of that, and Racing even have a reason to be happy about losing again – Lothar Matthäus has decided, after watching them against Newell’s on Tuesday, that he doesn’t fancy managing them after all. The big story of the week, though, is Independiente’s return to the Doble Visera, after nearly three years of nomadism.
Arsenal visited the Nuevo Gasómetro on Wednesday and went out with the intention of winning, Franco Jara giving them the lead after just four minutes as San Lorenzo struggled to rouse themselves. Fortunately for Diego Simeone’s men, Diego Rivero scored from range to level the match just ten minutes later. After the break, though, it was the same story again – Cristian Tula put Arsenal 2-1 up and it took San Lorenzo 20 minutes to regain parity. Gonzalo Rovira took aim from long distance and it was 2-2. Then, with five minutes to go, a third shot from range – this time from Kily González – hit striker Alejandro Gómez (who afterwards claimed, with knowing grin, that his action had been deliberate) in the head and the ball went in, to give San Lorenzo the lead for the first time in the match and the three points.
In Rosario, Juan Manuel Insaurralde scored the only goal of the match to give Newell’s a win over Racing which left the Avellaneda giants in danger of being cut off in the Promedio. Losses on Wednesday for Central (1-0 away to Huracán thanks to a 5th-minute goal from Eduardo Domínguez) and Gimnasia La Plata (0-1 at home to Banfield, Santiago Silva scoring his tenth of the season) have kept Racing from slipping too far down, but the experience was enough for Matthäus to decide against taking charge of Racing. La Academia have got off lightly there – they must have tried explaining the relegation system to their prospective new boss.
In Tucumán there was a controversial climax to the match between Atlético and Vélez. Rolando Zárate had given the champions the lead in the 27th minute and seen his strike cancelled out by Javier Páez’s goal before half time. Two minutes into stoppage time at the end of the second half, with the match seemingly drawn, the two goalscorers came together (or not). Zárate ran into the area, Páez ran to challenge him, and before the Atlético defender had reached him, Zárate threw himself to the ground. Referee Pablo Lunati, in the words of Olé, ‘bought it’, Maxi Moralez converted the penalty, and that was that.
Last thing on Wednesday night, Colón arrived at their match away to Independiente knowing that a win would send them back to the top of the table. They reckoned without the power of Independiente’s new stadium though. The new Estadio Libertadores de América hosted a match for the first time, and Néstor Silvera scored its first goal after just 12 minutes. Federico Nieto equalised ten minutes before the break, but Ignacio Piatti ensured that Independiente went in 2-1 up at the interval. Halfway through the second half, the former Chacarita and Gimnasia midfielder doubled his own tally and ensured his team’s victory, 3-1. By that point, Colón striker Esteban Fuertes had become the first player sent off at the Doble Visera, and their manager Antonio Mohamed had joined him.