Darren Paul watched the game of the weekend in Argentina’s second tier and will be providing regular updates from the Nacional B this season so watch this space.
Argentinos Juniors 1 (Romero)
Crucero del Norte 0
Braian Romero’s moment of genius was the difference on a wet and windy Monday night at the Estadio Diego Armando Maradona. The Argentinos Juniors forward clinched the winner ten minutes into the second half, in a dominant but wasteful performance by the home side.
Monday night’s featured game between two recently relegated sides, promotion favourites Argentinos Jrs and Crucero del Norte, was played in front of a miniscule crowd on a miserable night in Buenos Aires. The conditions certainly favoured the home side as Crucero looked as if they were playing the match on a bouncy castle covered in washing up liquid. Inside the first minute four Crucero players lost their footing, allowing Argentinos easy possession in the midfield, setting a tone early for which the rest of the match would follow.
The first half took a while to come alive, as the two sides battled a very slick pitch as well as each other, but it was Argentinos who quickly put their mark on the game. Gabriel Heinze’s side played an attack minded and flexible 3-4-3, which became a 3-1-3-3 or even a 3-3-4 when the situation called for it. Argentinos were sent out to win the game, having thrown away 2 points cheaply in their last outing, Heinze’s charges were keen not to repeat such a feat. Argentinos dominated the midfield from the opening minutes, flying into aerial challenges and seeming to always win the second chance ball.
Despite their domination of the ball in the midfield, and some slick breaks, Argentinos struggled to convert possession into meaningful attacks. Their best chance of the half fell to centre forward Francisco Fydriszewski. After an attempted back pass on halfway ricocheted off centre-back Ojeda Ferreira, Fydriszewski broke on goal but his tame attempt was dealt with easily by man of the match candidate Ignacio Arce in the Crucero goal.
Crucero received another warning shot in the 23rd minute as a poorly defended cross lead to a shot from 16 yards out cannoning off the crossbar. A cleaner finish would have been rewarded with the opening goal that the game at this point desperately needed.
5 minutes later Crucero’s chances took a blow as left-back Garcia was forced off. Gracia injured his hamstring lunging into a challenge attempting to prevent an attack down the wing and Mendez, his replacement, would find the combination of Cabrera and Mac Allister a real handful for the remainder of the game. Both players creating excellent opportunities attacking down the right flank.
Crucero were under pressure for much of the first half, as Argentinos committed men forward in high numbers. In basketball there is an expression. “Open for a reason”. It means that an opposition player is allowed shots from distance because they will likely miss. Argentinos were playing the football version of “open for a reason”, piling bodies forward at corners and free kicks because Crucero were utterly unable to produce a counter attack.
Crucero could have gotten something out of this game had they been able to string more than two passes together, and this is a key part of a counter attack. Argentinos were able to get plenty of bodies forward, because they knew this would go unpunished by a tactically indisciplined and very pedestrian Crucero side. A far cry from the team that played an exciting and open 2-2 draw at home last week.
The second half started just as the first. Crucero having a chance early, and then squandering the follow up. Crucero won a free kick in the midfield and put a shot on goal, which was put behind awkwardly by Lanzillota, the Argentinos keeper, who ended the first half being collected by Ostrowski and limping heavily.
Crucero would waste the corner kick and for the next half an hour it was all Argentinos, as Crucero were sat deep. At times 11 men in their own half, there was no outlet ball for the visitors. The best the Crucero defenders could muster was to meekly put the ball out of play or softly pass it into space before preparing to repel the next attack.
The breakthrough came 9 minutes into the second half. Argentinos won a corner from an attack down the right wing. Argentinos put an excellent corner to the middle of the box, but it is headed to the edge of the area. Romero was there to chest the ball down, take a touch and then in one smooth motion swivel and smash the ball with an incredible blend of power and swerve. The ball sneaking in at the front post, leaving Arce stranded in his goal. As Romero sprinted away to celebrate, with a ball up his shirt no less, Arce questioned why Romero was allowed so much space before giving a looked that suggested, “Did you see that strike, what was I meant to do?”.
Romero’s strike sparked the game into another gear. On another day Argentinos would have scored 4 or 5 goals. The Crucero back 4 crumbled after the goal, allowing the front 5 of Argentinos to move between the lines as they pleased. The men in red created opportunity after opportunity only for a lazy or selfish attempt smashing off the Coca-Cola sign high behind the goal. Romero was the only Argentinos striker to really challenge Arce, calling the keeper into a number of excellent saves. The best of which after a neat one two and shot which was smothered brilliantly by the on rushing Arce.
The game took on the feeling that history may repeat itself from last week. Argentinos were clearly the better side, but their wastefulness in front of goal looked ripe for the punishing. In the last minute of normal time Jose Manuel Vera found himself unmarked in the Argentinos box. 6 yards out with the goal at his mercy, the cross from the right wing was inch perfect for the Paraguayan midfielder but he incredibly managed to head the ball wide of goal, when scoring was surely easier.
That miss was the final opportunity Crucero would have as Argentinos would hold out and seal a convincing first win of the season.
Argentinos were much the better side, however, Crucero had a couple of chances to take something from this match. The men from the North will need to play much better than they did tonight if they are to mount are a serious bid for promotion, whereas Argentinos demonstrated clearly their credentials in a dominant victory.
Ferro best Boca to maintain winning ways
Ferro came away from a tricky fixture against Boca Unidos with all 3 points following an excellent 3-1 comeback victory. Boca got the scoring underway on 34 minutes as Federico Nieto collected a beautifully dummied pass in midfield, turned neatly and fired home a low finish from 20 yards out past Ferro keeper Leandro Requena. The third goal in two matches that will have fans and coaches questioning the stopper’s abilities.
The lead was short lived however, as Guillermo Vernetti picked up where he left off last weekend to draw the sides level on 36 minutes. A corner from the right side wasn’t dealt with by the Boca defenders and this allowed Vernetti the time and space to expertly place a curling shot high into the far corner from the left corner of the box. A wonderful finish from the Argentine who is in excellent form in the opening rounds of the season.
Boca Unidos would have chances to regain the lead as the half continued, with shots being cleared off the line and probing balls into the area asked questions of the Ferro defence. It was the away side, however, who gained the lead on the 67th minute as Castillejos, the other scorer in last week’s win, made it 2-1. A well struck first time shot from the edge of the D, flying low past the diving Ojeda into the bottom right corner brought the Argentine’s tally for the season up to 3 goals.
The victory was sealed on the 88th minute with a close range finish from Salmeron. Boca Unidos were surging forward late on in search of an equaliser and this attacking effort lead to an excellent counter attack, finished off with an excellent low cross into the area, where the unmarked Salmeron was able to slot home his first of the season at the back post.
A hugely entertaining game, in which both sides could have had more goals, was in the end won by Ferro who simply had two moments of magic. Ferro are looking like a very strong force in this season’s promotion race early on whereas Boca Unidos can take a lot out of the game, and on another day could have easily taken all three points.
Castro’s fortune means Santamarina sneak past Guillermo Brown
Santamarina edged an entertaining game at home to Guillermo Brown by the scoreline of 2 goals to nil. The early exchanges were even and the match was fairly open with both sides having good chances to get on the scoresheet first.
Both keepers were forced into action early, Guillermo Brown’s Mehring making a number of fine stops and his counterpart Papaleo making an excellent diving punch to clear a cross on the edge of his area.
It was Santamarina who opened the scoring through the head of Facundo Castro on 32 minutes. A cross coming in from the right hand side after some poor defending by the Guillermo left-back Dematei was punished. Dematei had his pocket pinched yards from the corner flag before a perfect cross found Castro on the edge of the 6 yard box with no one around him.
Guillermo Brown from this point had the best of the chances, forcing good saves out of Papaleo. As the first half drew to a close Guillermo Brown had the perfect opportunity to draw level from the spot as the keeper had brought down an onrushing attacker. The captain Sanchez stood up to take the penalty but dragged it wide of the right upright much to the relief of Papaleo.
The second half was much of the same back and forth, with both sides having golden opportunities to change the game. The final blow to Guillermo Brown’s chances came from a poorly played back pass to Mehring who had no choice but to control on the chest before trying to volley it down field. Unfortunately for Mehring Facundo Castro blocked the clearance kick and the keeper was helpless as the ball rolled into the net on 87th minute.
Santamarina can consider themselves a touch fortunate to come away from this lively encounter with all 3 points, but their fortune and their finishing was just that bit more clinical on the day. To add insult to injury Cristian Sain of Guillermo Brown picked up his second yellow of the game on the 92nd minute. A game to put behind them at this early stage of the season.
The remainder of the results in the first round
Flandria 0-1 Brown de Adrogue
Los Andes 0-1 Villa Dalmine
Instituto 1-1 San Martin (T)
Independiente (R) 1-1 All Boys
Nueva Chicago 2 – 1 Sportivo Estudiantes
Gimnasia de Jujuy 1-1 Douglas Haig
Juventud Unida 1-1 Atletico Parana
Central Córdoba 1-1 Almagro
Darren Paul is a UK based fan of Racing Club, most frequently found waxing lyrical about the first touch of Luciano Aued on a Saturday night. Fan of all tiers, all genders, all forms of the Argentine domestic game.
You can follow Darren on Twitter here www.twitter.com/auedstouch
He also does English commentary on various Argentine matches here www.rabble.tv/users/dfoulkes34/profile
And there is a youtube channel where he discusses the latest Racing news here youtube.com/auedstouch