Sunday brought five matches in the penultimate round of the 2013 Torneo Final, including all three of the sides were were still in with a mathematical chance of winning the title. Newell’s Old Boys’ 3-0 away win over Atlético Rafaela meant that a draw between Lanús and River Plate would hand the rosarinos the title. It wasn’t to be; Lanús rediscovered their scoring touch in a 5-1 thrashing of Ramón Díaz’s side, putting them six points behind Newell’s with one-and-a-half games to play (their match with Estudiantes, called off at half time, will be completed on Wednesday). The goals from those two matches, as well as the other four goals on Sunday, are here, along with all the relegation and title permutations for the coming week.
Unión 1 – 1 Vélez Sarsfield
Unión are already relegated, Vélez Sarsfield have absolutely nothing to play for, so nothing to affect next week’s run-in from this match. Pablo Magnín gave Unión a very early lead, but Lucas Pratto equalised for Vélez 23 minutes in, and thus it would remain.
All Boys 0 – 1 Racing
With Racing already qualified for the Copa Sudamericana, and All Boys safe, this game also had no affect on the coming weekend. Moreover, it was almost entirely ignored because it was played simultaneously with Rafaela v Newell’s. Racing won it with a diving header from Luciano Vietto, five minutes into the second half.
Atlético Rafaela 0 – 3 Newell’s Old Boys
Newell’s knew that with a victory here, they could pile all the pressure onto River Plate and Lanús for those sides’ evening match, and they got it through patience. With Nacho Scocco missing a first half penalty, it took until almost three quarters of the way through the game, but they eventually opened the scoring with a bit of help from Rafaela defender Oscar Carniello, before Víctor Figueroa and a late goal from Maximiliano Urruti added a deserved gloss to the scoreline. Both Rafaela (in the relegation battle) and Newell’s go into next weekend with their fate in their own hands (I’ll write up all the permutations at the bottom of this post).
Boca Juniors 1 – 0 Arsenal
Another match between sides with nothing to play for, apart from the fact that Boca needed a win to avoid finishing the weekend bottom of the Torneo Final. They got it thanks to a goal from Walter Erviti with fifteen minutes left on the clock, but Arsenal weren’t happy – they’d seen a goal disallowed in each half, the first of which was for a very dubious offside decision. Okay; for an outright disgraceful offside decision (the ball might have gone over the goal line prior to the cross being put in – I’ve not seen a clear enough replay yet – but that wasn’t what the linesman flagged for).
Lanús 5 – 1 River Plate
Lanús made history with this win, played out in front of a sparse crowd due to home fans staying away in protest at the police shooting of Javier Jérez which led to the calling-off of the game against Estudiantes last week. They’d never scored five against River before, and had never scored four in the opening 27 minutes of any game before. Cristian Chávez gave them a very early lead, Leonel Vangioni equalised for River within minutes, but a quickfire double from Guido Pizarro and Víctor Ayala made it 3-1 as River’s defence, one of the more solid in the championship until this week, collapsed. Ismael Blanco made it 4-1 27 minutes in, and got his second and his side’s fifth early in the second half.
The title race first, because it’s simple; Lanús and Newell’s are the only sides who can win the Torneo Final. Newell’s have a six point lead over their rivals at present, but Lanús have half a match in hand (to be played on Wednesday at 14:00 ART). However, Lanús are 2-0 down at half time of that match, so will need to take confidence from this thrashing of River and turn the game around; anything less than a Lanús win will hand the title to Newell’s on Wednesday (Newell’s also play on Wednesday, at 16:30 in the Copa Argentina).
If Lanús get a win, they’ll go into the last weekend three points behind Newell’s, and will have to win their own game (away to San Lorenzo) and hope Newell’s lose theirs (at home to Argentinos Juniors). That would see the sides finish level on points and – with goal difference not used to decide championships in Argentina – would force a playoff on neutral ground, on Wednesday of next week, to decide the title.
In the relegation battle, Unión and Independiente are already down. There’s one relegation spot left, and one of four sides will finish in it; Argentinos Juniors currently occupy it, San Martín de San Juan are just above them and most in danger, whilst Quilmes and Atlético Rafaela are probably safe, but both need a point to be absolutely certain. Quilmes have two games still to play; they meet Godoy Cruz in about three hours’ time.
Quilmes can only be relegated if they lose both remaining games (they play Tigre away on the last day) and all three of the others win next weekend. A defeat would relegate Rafaela (away to Vélez Sarsfield) if San Martín and Argentinos Juniors both win.
Assuming Rafaela manage that point, it’s just San Martín and Argentinos in the battle. If San Martín lose, then they’re down, whatever Argentinos do (even if both sides lose, Argentinos will leapfrog San Martín as the points-per-game average changes minutely on both sides to take into account one more match played). If San Martín win, they’re safe regardless of Argentinos’ result. If both sides’ matches end in a draw, then – like Lanús and Newell’s finishing level in the title race – the sides will have to play a one-off, neutral stadium tie-breaker to decide who stays up and who goes down. If San Martín manage a draw and Argentinos win, the San Juan side will be relegated.