In spite of their Copa Libertadores commitments banking on Rosario Central not losing in the Gigante de Arroyito has been one of the safest bets in Argentine football in over a year. Not since Eduardo Coudet took charge in January 2015 have El Canalla suffered defeat but on Sunday evening, two late goals from substitute Diego Zavala stole all three points for Vélez Sarsfield and so ended the unbeaten run of 20 home games.
When Marco Ruben headed the home side into an early lead it looked like business as usual for Central. The game perhaps swung in favour of the visitors though minutes later when recent Argentina international Javier Pinola was shown a red card for needlessly raising his arm into the face of Fabián Cubero at a corner. Sensing weakness, the visitors found an equaliser when Santiago Stelcaldo stabbed the ball past Manuel García (the 90,000th goal in the professional era of Argentine football) but it was to prove far more difficult for Vélez.
With fifteen minutes remaining, Giovani Lo Celso reestablished Central’s lead and appeared to be handing them an invaluable three points but second half substitute Diego Zavala scored twice in four minutes to inflict a first defeat at home for Eduardo Coudet.
In Mar del Plata, Racing were also distracted by their Copa Libertadores duties next week and a calamitous second half performance saw Aldosivi claim a 2-1 victory. Facundo Sava had heavily rotated his side ahead of the clash with Boca Juniors on Wednesday but it didn’t prevent Roger Martínez from tapping La Academia in front after nine minutes.
Racing’s defending in recent weeks meant the lead was never quite secure but it took a superb volley from Neri Bandieri to bring El Tiburón level. Despite the set back, Racing earned a wonderful opportunity to retake the lead after Rodrigo de Paul was scythed down in the penalty area only for Sebastián Saja to sky his effort well over the bar.
As the game crept into stoppage time, a loose Luciano Aued pass fell to the feet of former Independiente striker Sebastián Penco and the 32-year-old lashed the ball into the top corner for all three points.
Earlier in La Paternal, Argentinos Juniors’ troubles in front of goal continued as they played out a goalless draw with fellow strugglers, Newell’s Old Boys. Los Bichos have now not scored in five games and will not have a better opportunity than on Sunday afternoon. Luciano Cabral saw his second half penalty saved by Luciano Pocjrnic to ensure that the goal drought continues and Newell’s record a fourth consecutive draw.