Racing knew that victory in El Cilindro against Godoy Cruz ensured them the long awaited Primera title, but with it being Racing that was far from a certainty. However, another assured performance from Diego Cocca’s side marshalled by the superb Diego Milito saw them run out 1-0 winners and lift the Torneo Transición trophy, 13 years after Milito was part of the team that won the 2001 Apertura. Ricardo Centurión’s second half goal broke the growing tension and the party in Avellaneda began almost immediately. River Plate made sure that Racing needed to complete their victory, with a 1-0 win of their own against Quilmes but it proved to be fruitless.
Diego Milito already has legendary status within Racing but his return to the club has truly been the catalyst behind this fresh triumph. The veteran striker said: “I can’t believe it, this crowns our dreams. This is what I came back home for.”
Racing’s run over the second half of the season has been breathtaking and although title rivals, River were undoubtedly distracted by the Copa Sudamericana, there is no taking away from La Academia’s startling form. Since defeat to Atlético Rafaela in round 10, Racing have won 8 of the next 9 matches and conceded just one. Those 27 points from a possible 29 catapulted them to the top of the table and to being deserved Primera champions.
Manager, Diego Cocca, who only took over at the start of the season said: “I’m overjoyed because we had tough times (early in the tournament) but this team were very brave to pull through.”
The tough times that he refers to are defeat in the clásico against Independiente, and the criticism that he personally received for saying that he would sacrifice the derby if it meant winning the title. At the time those words seemed very hollow but the 42-year-old has certainly had the last laugh.
Diego Cocca’s stock couldn’t be higher after following promotion to the Primera with Defensa y Justicia with this title but there are a number of key figures in this triumph. Milito and strike partner, Gustavo Bou have taken much of the plaudits but goalkeeper, Sebastián Saja has been a colossus. The most clean sheets in the league, a whopping 584 minutes without conceding a goal and a true leader at the back has kept Racing on course when they might traditionally combust.
Champions of Argentina once again, Racing will join runners up, River Plate in next year’s Copa Libertadores. River kept up their part of the deal by defeating Quilmes but it mattered little as all eyes were on Avellaneda.
Racing Club 1 – 0 Godoy Cruz
Quilmes 0 – 1 River Plate