Sunday afternoon saw the first of the big derby games of this tournament when the neighbourhood of Avellaneda is split red and blue for the clash between Independiente and Racing. In the past few seasons Racing have been the superior team, even though there performances in clasicos have not been evidence of this. Independiente’s recent decline has seen them languishing in the drop zone and a strong campaign this time round is required if they are to stay in the top flight. Relegation would be catastrophic for Independiente, it would be the first time in the clubs grand history and something Racing would never let their rivals forget. This made the meeting yesterday all the more significant, as defeat to Racing would push Independiente further into trouble. (FOR HIGHLIGHTS VIDEO READ MORE)
As expected in a clash of this magnitude, the Estadio Libertadores de America, home of Independiente was bouncing. However, it was the red half of Avellaneda that reacted to this and in only 3 minutes Independiente were ahead. Midfielder, Hernan Fredes stole the ball from Agustin Pelletieri and although Racing were claiming a foul, the ball ended up at the feet of Leonel Miranda who fired home from 20 yards. This bustling midfield display set the tone for the whole game as Independiente played at a high tempo, constantly pressing Racing. No one epitomised this better than Independiente’s Colombian midfielder, Fabian Vargas. Racing had no answer to this and at no stage really looked like getting back in the game and perhaps more worryingly they didn’t have the fight.
With five minutes remaining Racing had second half substitute, Diego Villar sent off when he caught Vargas high on the thigh when challenging for a bouncing ball. Racing’s fate was sealed but in stoppage time Independiente made absolutely certain. Fellow Colombian and recent signing, Juan Caicedo got free down the right and his cutback found Jonathan Santana who slotted the ball home.
With this win Independiente climb a place in the relegation standings taking them out of the bottom 3. It has been a good start to the campaign for the red half of Avellaneda, winning 2 out of 3 and more importantly beating Racing. A derby win is something always to be savoured but it will mean very little if Independiente do not maintain this current run of form and avoid relegation.