Banfield and Estudiantes keep up the pressure

Estudiantes 3-0 Vélez
Mauro Boselli celebrates Estudiantes' second goal

Following Newell’s Old Boys’ victory over River Plate on Saturday, the other sides hoping to keep up in the race for the title had to win on Sunday, and two of them managed it. Banfield overcame San Lorenzo 1-0 in Boedo for their first win away to El Cuervo in 13 years, and Estudiantes brushed aside Vélez Sársfield 3-0 in the clash of continental and domestic champions. In the last match of the weekend (but not of the round), Colón dropped off the pace slightly – they could only manage a faltering 0-0 draw in La Bombonera against Boca Juniors.

After being knocked out of the Copa Sudamericana on penalties following a 0-1 defeat by River Plate of Montevideo on Wednesday night, San Lorenzo lost by the same scoreline again in the Nuevo Gasómetro. The only goal of the game was scored by one of Banfield’s Uruguayans, and just for a change it wasn’t Santiago Silva. Instead, his countryman Sebastián Fernández won the match halfway through the second half. Running onto a long ball over the top, Fernández bided his time before hitting a fizzing shot into the roof of the net, beating Pablo Migliore at his near post. Banfield join Newell’s on 29 points at the top of the table as a result.

Estudiantes de La Plata are only three points back, after giving Vélez a sound thrashing in Quilmes’ stadium. Leandro Desábato got the ball rolling in the 33rd minute, turning the ball in from close range from a left wing free kick. Vélez offered little resistance in spite of their normally gutsy character – their own elimination from the Copa Sudamericana after a 2-1 defeat away to Liga de Quito on Thursday night obviously took it out of them, and manager Ricardo Gareca decided to rest virtually his entire first team, making the task considerably easier for Estudiantes. Mauro Boselli ended the match as a contest in the 57th minute, stepping inside his marker and sending an unstoppable shot across Germán Montoya’s goal. In the 82nd minute, Leando ‘El Chino‘ Benítez put the finishing touch to a glorious 16-pass move to make it 3-0 – Vélez’s heaviest defeat of Gareca’s current spell in charge.

And finally, Boca Juniors ended a torrid week but at least they didn’t lose on the pitch. Talk has intensified in recent days of Juan Román Riquelme’s possible move to Corinthians in Brazil, whilst Roberto Abbondanzieri, who’s not had the best form of his life in goal, told reporters that his children no longer come to the stadium for matches because of the abuse their father got following the loss to Rosario Central last week. The 0-0 draw with Colón at least calmed the nerves. It meant Colón failed to go third – they’re fourth, two points behind Estudiantes and five behind Banfield and Newell’s – but it also means Alfio Basile and his team are ten points off the lead. Perhaps critically, it also means their chances of qualifying for the 2010 Copa Libertadores hang by a thread. It’s been a week to forget.

Any readers wondering where the traditional Monday ‘scores and scorers’ post is, don’t panic – the AFA’s decision to play one match on a Monday night (making the entire round easier to continue broadcasting on free TV during Argentina’s hot summer months, when it’s harder to play so many games in the middle of the day over the weekend) means that post will now be held over until Tuesday.

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