Boca’s 4-1 battering of Newell’s capped a strange week at both clubs: Boca’s ugly victory over San Martín in midweek saved Rodolfo Arruabarrena’s job while Newell’s had bounced back from clásico humiliation to thrash Racing, so their clash in La Bombonera on Saturday was a bit of an unknown quantity.
However, Rodrigo Bentancur’s goal within 35 seconds, followed soon after by a Tevez free kick and what should have been a Sebastián Palacios goal, had it not been for an incorrect offside flag, put Boca firmly in control inside the opening ten minutes and made clear that Newell’s incredible five-goal haul in their previous match had been a flash in the pan.
The injury that forced Dani Osvaldo out clearly benefitted Boca as Palacios’ pace forced Newell’s deeper and allowed Carlos Tevez to drop into the spaces and have an influence on the match that hasn’t been seen since last year. Tevez was the driving force behind what was undoubtedly Boca’s best performance of the season and with the Copa Libertadores starting, a return to form couldn’t have come at a better time. Games are going to come thick and fast now and Boca and importantly Arruabarrena must maintain this to keep the critics off their backs.
Newell’s have reacted to defeat by appointing Olimpo manager, Diego Osella, who began his playing career at the club. Whether he is the man to turn them around remains a big question and he will be without first choice goalkeeper Ezequiel Unsain for the foreseeable future after the youngster was taken off against Boca with a broken jaw after colliding with Tevez’s knee.
López golazo saves Racing from defeat and lights up an awful clásico
For 85 minutes Sunday’s Clásico de Avellaneda was absolutely dreadful as Independiente and Racing toiled and battled in the midfield without really creating anything of note. When Emiliano Rigoni released Leandro Fernández for the recent summer signing to score his first goal for his new club in the 86th minute it looked as though El Rojo had nicked all three points. However, as the game crept into stoppage time and Racing probed for an equaliser, their returning hero Lisandro López produced the game’s one moment of real quality. Oscar Romero clipped the ball into the centre and the veteran striker caught the ball perfectly with a text book bicycle kick which left Diego Rodríguez no chance.
A share of the points was undoubtedly a fair result but Independiente will certainly feel like it was two points dropped after snatching the lead so late. El Rojo must travel to the Monumental in Round Five and defeat to River would pile the pressure on Pellegrino. Racing remain without a win in the Primera this season but such a significant goal could provide the catalyst for Facundo Sava’s side to turn the corner. La Academia’s Copa Libertadores campaign begins on Wednesday night with Bolivar visiting the Cilindro, and nothing other than a win is acceptable for Sava.
Title challengers, Central and River entertain in thriller
If Sunday’s earlier clásico de Avellaneda had been enough to turn viewers off Argentine football, River Plate’s visit to Rosario Central proved to be the perfect antidote. Central have enjoyed a wonderful start to the season while River have been unsettled by defensive injuries but Marcelo Gallardo’s side are never to be counted out and gave El Canalla their toughest match of the season so far.
Leading 3-1 until late after goals by Lucas Alario, Rodrigo Mora and a Marcelo Larrondo own-goal, River appeared to be heading for a huge three points against their title rivals. However, Larrondo made amends for his earlier howler to pull one back and then after a stoppage for a partially failed flood light, the powerful centre forward headed an added time equaliser.
Central may have dropped points for the first time in 2016 but the manner in which they came back will have done little to dampen the expectation. 19-year-old Giovani Lo Celso produced an inspired performance in midfield and displayed his wonderful awareness and range of passing. With academy products like this coming through to bolster Eduardo Coudet’s squad, you would not bet against Central ending their trophy drought.
Both sides begin their Copa Libertadores campaigns this week and so it remains to be seen how their squads will balance the extra workload but certainly on the evidence of Sunday night, both will be in contention for the title. The Libertadores is a new experience for Central while River’s defence remains a worry but when their matches are as entertaining as this, few are complaining.
San Lorenzo require another spot of luck to claim home win
Pablo Guede’s San Lorenzo are turning out to be a lot of fun, as they continue to produce performances that are almost the antithesis of Edgardo Bauza’s side. Saturday’s win over Vélez may have tested supporters’ nerves more than would have been appreciated and left Vélez fans fuming but El Ciclón appear genuine title challengers.
It is perhaps a shame that after such an enthralling game of football the major talking point was the performance of referee Federico Beligoy, but after dishing out three red cards and awarding the home side an awful penalty, that was inevitable.
Nicolás Blandi had spectacularly levelled the scores with a bicycle kick when Beligoy awarded the home side a suspicious looking penalty in the second half. At this point, Brian Cufré had already been sent off for a second yellow and to make matters worse, Beligoy sent off Fabián Cubero for his supposed foul for the penalty. For the second time this season, San Lorenzo had been gifted a penalty at a crucial moment and having had three spot kicks in four matches, it is little wonder some have questioned Marcelo Tinelli’s increasing power at the AFA (I say some, mainly the loud-mouthed Pablo Moyano but it’s Argentine football so not beyond the realms of possibility).
Cristian Bassedas deserves credit for quickly establishing a decent looking Vélez side and when the equalised with nine men, few could have begrudged them a point. However, Mauro Matos popped up with a last gasp winner just as Pablo Barrientos had done against Sarmiento. Without question, Guede still needs to find some balance if Los Cuervos are to challenge both domestically and in the Copa Libertadores they cannot continue to leak goals.
Rejuvenated Lanús lead the way with four wins from four
Despite being early in the season, Atlético Tucumán’s visit to Lanús was a surprising top of the table clash with both clubs enjoying 100% starts to their campaigns. Something had to give and although the only goal of the game has now been credited as a Nicolás Romat own goal, Lanús should have been far more comfortable than the scoreline suggests. Pepe Sand’s presence was the key behind Romat poking the ball into his own net and the veteran striker already looks like an inspired acquisition for El Granate.
With the creativity of Lautaro Acosta, Pablo Mouche, Nicolás Aguirre and Román Martínez behind, Jorge Almirón’s side were in need of a physical, poacher-style centre forward and in bringing Sand back to the club, El Granate have that. A nod should also go to the defence, who have conceded only once in their opening four matches. Quite what Racing were thinking when they sent young José Luis Gómez out on loan again is anyone’s guess but Lanús are reaping the rewards of the 22-year-old’s boundless energy down the right.
Bigger tests are to come for Jorge Almirón’s side but they have made an outstanding start in what is the weaker of the two zonas.