Saturday saw just three games in the Torneo Final; all were played simultaneously as a tight relegation battle came to a head. Independiente needed all three games to go just the right way, and in the end all three went exactly the opposite ways; Argentinos and San Martín both won (just one of them doing so would have relegated El Rojo) and Independiente lost their clásico 1-0 at home to San Lorenzo, and were relegated for the first time in their history – Boca Juniors are now the only team never to have been below the top flight in the professional era. You can see the goals that broke Independiente fans’ hearts – as well as reading what’s required of Argentinos and San Martín next weekend if they’re to survive – right here.
Independiente 0 – 1 San Lorenzo
Ángel Correa’s goal right before the hour mark came whilst San Martín and Argentinos were both already winning, and put to bed Argentinos manager Ricardo Caruso Lombardi’s rather bizarre suspicions that San Lorenzo wouldn’t give it their all. Bizarre primarily because as long as Argentinos got at least a point, Independiente were going to be relegated regardless of winning, losing or drawing against San Lorenzo.
San Martín de San Juan 2 – 0 Estudiantes de La Plata
San Martín started Saturday as the only side whose fate was entirely in their own hands, and they remain in that situation after an impressive and fully deserved victory over an Estudiantes side who hadn’t conceded in six-and-a-half games. Jorge Luna opened the scoring with a daisycutter 18 minutes in, and Sebastián Penco ensured the win ten minutes from time. At the time of writing, there wasn’t one video of both goals (why the official Fútbol Para Todos YouTube page insist on only uploading them separately, I don’t know), so the videos below are the two goals in the order they were scored.
Argentinos Juniors 1 – 0 Colón
Very early on, with all three matches at 0-0, Juan Luis Anangonó León burst through the Colón back line and was brought down by Diego Pozo, the goalkeeper. Whether it was inside or outside the box was uncertain, but it was surely a foul, and referee Sergio Pezzotta’s decision to wave play on didn’t go down well with Argentinos boss Ricardo Caruso Lombardi, who was sent off for his protests. Nine minutes into the second half, though, Anangonó León got the faintest of touches to an Alejandro Capurro cross, and Argentinos led 1-0; an advantage they didn’t spurn.
Independiente join Unión in Nacional B next season, and there’s one relegation spot left. Mathematically, Quilmes and Atlético Rafaela could both still drop into it, but both of them only need one point to avoid it, and both play later in this round. So, let’s assume they’re all right.
The fact that San Martín have only been in the Primera two seasons, and therefore have their points divided by fewer matches in Argentina’s relegation table (click here for an explanation) leads to a bizarre situation next weekend. Argentinos are currently in the drop zone.
First things first; if Argentinos better San Martín’s result next weekend, Argentinos stay up (even if it’s just an Argentinos draw and a San Martín defeat). If San Martín better Argentinos’ result, San Martín stay up. It’s when we look into the possibility that both sides might get the same result that things get weird.
Should both sides win their matches, San Martín will be the side who stay up. So far, so good. Should both draw, both will finish on identical points-per-game averages, and will thus have to play a (one-off, neutral stadium) playoff to decide who stays up and who goes down. And should both lose, it will be Argentinos Juniors who remain in the division. In short, it’s got the potential to get confusing.
One other thing to bear in mind is that tomorrow’s matches in the title race are going to have a big effect on this as well. At present, Newell’s Old Boys lead River Plate by three points, and Lanús by six – but Lanús have half a game in hand (the second half of last Monday’s game against Estudiantes, called off after a Lanús fan was shot dead by police, will be played on Wednesday), albeit they’re losing 2-0 in that one.
Newell’s could win the league tomorrow, if they beat Atlético Rafaela in Rafaela and River v Lanús then finishes all square (or, if we assume Lanús won’t be able to turn the game round against Estudiantes, if River fail to win). But if Newell’s don’t win the league tomorrow, and the title race goes to the last weekend, then things will get very interesting, because Argentinos Juniors’ match next weekend is away to Newell’s Old Boys, and San Martín’s is also away… to River Plate.
Hold onto your hats.
If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about and exactly why Independiente’s relegation is so historic, and if I’ve not explained that above for you in enough depth, you might like to know I’ve also written this post for new English-language Argentine news site The Bubble.