A dramatic afternoon’s action in the Primera División has left Quilmes relegated, Gimnasia La Plata and Huracán having to play a tie-breaker to decide who goes down and who gets a crack at the relegation playoff, and River Plate in the other playoff spot, thus disqualifying the Núñez giants from Copa Sudamericana qualification. The details are right here – the goal videos will come later.
Quilmes’ match with Olimpo was the game which had the most ramifications for the other encounters, and Olimpo managed a 1-0 away win which doomed Ricardo Caruso Lombardi’s men to the drop. Had Quilmes won, they’d still have needed Huracán to lose and Gimnasia to fail to win, in order to leapfrog both and finish in the lower relegation playoff spot rather than the direct relegation places. As it was, both those scenarios came to pass: Huracán got hung, drawn and quartered, battered 5-1 by Independiente with midfielder Javier Cámpora missing a penalty and then scoring one minutes later. Cámpora therefore finishes joint top scorer along with Racing’s Teófilo Gutiérrez. It’s the second time a player has finished top scorer and been relegated in Argentina. The first was Javier Cámpora, when he played for Tiro Federal in Rosario in the lower divisions. Yes that’s right; the same Javier Cámpora.
Gimnasia were held 2-2 with a last minute goal from Boca Juniors’ Christian Cellay (who’d also scored his team’s earlier effort), and with Guillermo Barros Schelotto leaving the pitch in the first half in a neck brace after taking a rocket of a shot from Boca left back Luciano Monzón full in the face. Barros Schelotto was walking again by half time, and seemed okay. That draw combined with Huracán’s loss leaves Gimnasia and Huracán dead level on average points; as such, they’ll play a one-off desempate (tie-breaker) in a neutral venue, probably Racing’s ground, to decide who is relegated and who gets a chance of redemption in the playoff against either San Martín de San Juan or Unión de Santa Fe.
The other playoff spot, though, which comes with a two-legged tie against Belgrano de Córdoba, has fallen to River Plate, who for the first time in their history will play a competitive league tie against a team from below the top flight. They lost 2-1 to Lanús, who looked as disinterested as expected but were still too much for them, with a late goal from Leandro Díaz in stoppage time after Erik Lamela had scored the first ugly goal of his career to equalise for River right at the start of the second half. That wasn’t really what kept River down though; Olimpo’s win ensured that River had to win rather than draw themselves (any other result for Olimpo would have kept River up even whilst losing). With River losing, Tigre’s 1-1 draw with Argentinos Juniors became academic.
The tie-breaker between Gimnasia and Huracán is yet to be arranged, but River’s relegation playoff with Belgrano will begin in Córdoba on Wednesday, and end in the Monumental a week tomorrow. River, as the ‘defending’ Primera side, only have to get an aggregate draw to stay up; away goals don’t count and the onus is put on the Nacional B side to beat the team they want to replace, another ridiculous aspect of Argentina’s relegation system.
So what no-one, at the start of the season, thought would be allowed has in fact come to pass. Three points from seven matches were about all River were worth, and mean they won’t be in the Copa Sudamericana next year, and will have to play what’s bound to be a very nervy tie against Belgrano to maintain their presence in the top flight. Of course, it also remains to be seen whether they’ll be allowed to field first choice goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo, who ought to be starting to train with the Argentine national team ahead of the Copa América this week…
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