Nacional B review: Crucero in cruise control as they put three past sloppy San Martin


Darren Paul

The fifth round of the Argentine Primera B Nacional was played midweek, before the whole of round six was postponed. The league took a weekend off and will return on the 1st October. There was 25 goals scored in the midweek, with only the clash between Brown Adrogue and Gimnasia Jujuy ending goalless.Three games finished 3-0, all to the home side.

Crucero del Norte  3 – Lechner, Méndez, Ostrowski

San Martín de Tucumán  0 

The featured game was once again out of form Crucero del Norte, one of the most intriguing sides in the second division hosting San Martín. The visitors had a strong showing week one, pulling back a two-goal deficit to claim a well earned draw against Argentinos Juniors, but have since had one draw and a loss against Chacarita Juniors.

The fixture was played midweek in Garupa, in Northern Argentina on the Paraguayan border, in the late afternoon sun, with the stadium overlooking the Arroyo Pindapoy Grande, a watercourse just off the Parana river.

Crucero were coming off a tough away defeat that had very few positives, aside from some late pressure and some half chances off the counter against an incredibly strong Chacarita Jrs. San Martin kicked off the game in their traditional home colours of Red and White striped shirts, white shorts, red socks and the hosts were in their yellow with orange trim shirts, yellow shorts and yellow socks. A far better look than their orange and white ensemble from last week.

Crucero lined up in a new formation with a 4-3-2-1, a clear response to their midfield weakness against Chacarita. San Martin would line up in a 4-3-3, which took more of a 4-2-2-2 shape with a mixture of narrow and wide pairs. San Martin’s early attempts at getting forward were trying to hit balls over the top to the most advanced played of the forward three.

The first chance of the game came from a lovely sweeping move from the visitors, and was finished off by an excellent glancing header from Lentini. He was kept at bay by a fantastic save from Arce, tipping the ball up and out for a corner. It was a fantastic run down the wing, exposing the poor positioning of the right back Perez, and once again showing the excellence of Arce.

In the opening ten minutes Crucero were a little on the back foot and didn’t create one credible chance, being held to taking pot shots from a long way out. They were clearly adjusting to their shape in the early going and were being troubled clearly by the pace and directness of San Martin’s forwards.

Crucero had their best early chance after an excellent run down the right flank, a slightly overhit high cross into the area, which was missed by the two Crucero forwards. The ball fell neatly to Vera on the edge of the area whose volleyed effort went just over brushing the top of the net.

San Martin should have taken the lead on 14 minutes after another fast attack down the left flank by Bucci. He was giving Perez some serious problems in the early going. The cut back ball to the centre of the area was on the spot and if not for some clam and collected defending from Ojeda Ferreira, Lentini would have surely netted for 1-0.

A first half injury to the San Martin full back Goiceochea would end his afternoon after barely 20 minutes, would be capitalised upon by the right wingers of Crucero who looked set to attack that flank for the remainder of the match. Their best moves of the early exchanges had all come as a result of an attack up the right wing.

Both sides were struggling to keep their shape, and this lead to an open and interesting first half. Both teams were able to create chances on goal. San Martin had two excellent attempts that went just wide, these were immediately countered by Crucero in the wide areas looking to swing crosses into the area or taking a shot from the edge of the area. From the first minute the game had the look of a match in it’s latter stages. The field of play was very stretched and opportunities to create chances were plentiful.

The first half ended on San Martin’s best chance of the half. A pin point accurate lofted through ball played by Briones was collected and lofted over the on rushing Arce by Lentini, but it would trickle just wide of net. It was an excellent pass that Pirlo or Xavi would be proud of.

Crucero kicked off the second half and won a free kick in a dangerous area within a minute. The free kick was played as a cross into the box, a glancing header was off target followed by a snap shot that was also wide. The shot put the ball in the perfect location at the back post for Lechner to stoop and head in the opener. It was a goal that had been coming throughout the game, and it’s scruffiness fit the style of the fixture perfectly.

San Martin’s quest to get the game back on level terms got a lot more difficult after two reckless diving tackles from their midfielder Daniel Dip lead to a red card. From here it was an uphill task for the away side as Crucero managed the possession and the play, and would put on a passing display their fans could only dream of in the games earlier in the season.

The ball was with Arce, the Crucero keeper, having been won in the midfield. 30 seconds later a shirtless Mendez Rodrigo was sprinting towards the fans and enveloped by his teammates. It was a move created by long accurate passes. Mendez Rodrigo, when he collected the ball in the box, still had a mountain to climb. Mendez Rodrigo created space outside the left back Oliver, collected a low pass and drove into the area. He dragged the ball back and inside as he slowed slightly, which lead Oliver to fly past him as Mendez Rodrigo would set up on his favoured right foot take one more touch in the acre of space he created and slot the ball neatly past Taborda to the back post. It was an excellent finish, well worth taking a yellow for a shirtless celebration.

As the half went on both sides created quality efforts. One of the best was from San Martin, a fluid move was rewarded by an excellent strike from the edge of the area which required a smart low save from Arce to keep the two-goal advantage.

Parity on the pitch was restored minutes later as Crucero were reduced to ten men. Iriberri the Crucero number 9 was given his marching orders for a reckless high tackle on a San Martin midfielder. The ball had been lost by Iriberri after a poor first touch and was collected by the San Martin number 5, Briones. The attempt to win the ball back from Iriberri was truly awful as he threw himself kung fu kick style at the ball, but instead collected the visiting player high on the leg. A foul that contributed to the midfielder’s substitution minutes later.

As the late afternoon sun was setting in Garupa, the local side were pressing on trying to get their third goal, whilst the visitors looked like they just wanted to get back home to Tucuman. Crucero were playing like a much better brand of football than they have all season, attacking well, linking up a few passes – many of them long. San Martin were still a minor threat for Crucero but were still reduced to taking shots from a long way out, shots dealt with easily by Arce.

The final nail in the San Martin coffee was hammered by Ostrowski who collected a long pass from the Paraguayan Vera at the halfway line, beat the one centre back who was back defending. Ostrowski dribbled the ball into the area and neatly rounded the onrushing Taborda and cooly slotted into the open net for the cherry on the top. It was a goal that perfectly summarised how Crucero played the game, fast counter attacks on as few passes as possible completed with good finishing.

Crucero started to show their ability to score on the counter last time out against Chacarita and clearly the change in formation aided their transition play. It was a ball from a player located just infront of the defenders, between the fullback and centre-back, which set up the final goal. San Martin were left bottom of the league following their worst defeat of the season. On another day things could have been different. San Martin looked a threat at times, but the triple punch of a goal, a red card and another goal in relatively short order ended their challenge in the game.

San Martin will be able to take some positives from the fixture and were ultimately beaten by a side playing similar football with better execution and finishing. Crucero del Norte could use this win as a springboard to greater successes, and to more importantly, avoid finishing the season in the bottom four. This game is the blueprint of how Crucero will likely play, and against weak or disorganised teams, if their finishing is as clinical as it was in this fixture and Arce maintains his excellent form, they will surely be rack up some victories and secure safety.


Castillejos’ early double sets Ferro flying past Flandria

Ferro’s run of rocky results came to a screeching end in round five as they stuck three past Flandria in front of their home faithful. Ferro made the dream start winning a penalty in the third minute of the match, as tricky winger Vernetti drove to the byline to send in a cut back low cross into the middle, full back Camacho went to ground to block the cross and had it cannon off his arm. The referee wasted no time in pointing to the spot in awarding the penalty.

Castillejos calmly strode up to take the penalty, and dispatched it high into the roof of the net, clipping it off the underside of the crossbar as it went in. A penalty showing tremendous nerve of a striker riding a hot streak.

The link up of Vernetti to Castillejos would bring a second goal just a minute later as the high pressing Ferro won back possession straight from the restart. Ferro’s ability to move the ball fast from one side of the pitch to the other left the defending side slightly off balance and this was capitalised upon with a wonderful cross from Vernetti to the back post. The ball was met by Castillejos, stooping to head into the unguarded net.

The third goal for Ferro came on the hour mark as Lucas Acevedo headed in a deeply crossed corner. The Flandria keeper was deceived by the corner and was caught in no man’s land as Acevedo rose to meet the ball and send it back over the heads of the defenders into the far corner. A terrible piece of goalkeeping, but capitalised upon by a lovely header.

Ferro have finally showed once again just what they are capable of, fast attacking wing play, pin point accurate crosses, and a tremendous aerial presence lead them to a dominant 3-0 victory against a side who before their game had only conceded 3 goals in their opening 4 fixtures. The win left Ferro in second, putting pressure on leaders Villa Dalmine who got a fantastic home win against Argentinos Juniors.

The remainder of the results in the fifth round

Central Cordoba 3 – 0 Independiente Rivadavia
Villa Dalmine 2 – 0 Argentinos Jrs
All Boys 2 – 1 Juventud Unida
Sportivo Estudiantes 1 – 1 Chacaritas Jrs
Guillermo Brown 2 – 0 Los Andes
Atletico Parana 1 – 1 Nueva Chicago
Douglas Haig 1 – 1 Instituto
Almagro 2 – 1 Santamarina
Brown Adrogue 0 – 0 Gimnasia Jujuy


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
He also does English commentary on various Argentine matches here
And there is a youtube channel where he discusses the latest Racing news here


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