It’s been a long time coming but Argentine football returned to our television screens on Thursday evening (ironically brought forward as a result of a rugby match at Vélez’s stadium this weekend). Relegation threatened Vélez hosted title chasing Estudiantes and perhaps as a result of the long summer break, both defences were still on their holidays and what followed was an entertaining 3-2 win for the hosts.
Mariano Pavone set the tone in the sixth minute when he dashed in behind the static Estudiantes back line, cut inside a despairing Leandro Desábato and clipped the ball past Mariano Andújar.
Estudiantes’ slump had begun before the end of the year with three defeats from their last four matches but there was little indication that Nelson Vivas’ early pace-setters had shaken that off.
However, El Pincha did pull level when recent signing Sebastián Dubarbier picked out Augusto Solari unmarked at the back post to poke his second of the season inside Fabián Assmann’s near post.
On the stroke of half time, Diego Zabala put Vélez back in front with a superb looping header but the lead lasted only minutes as immediately after the break Javier Toledo nodded the ball into the same net with almost his first touch.
Despite the lackadaisical defending the match was heading for a draw until the 89th minute when Estudiantes gifted the points to their hosts.
Andújar’s attempt to play out from the back put Iván Gómez under slight pressure and his wayward first time pass allowed Pavone to slot the ball past the stranded goalkeeper.
The relief for Vélez was evident; three points doesn’t ensure their saftey but to resume the season with a win is a huge boost for Omar de Felippe. Estudiantes are now without a win in five and could be seven points off the top at the end of the weekend so if any title hopes remain this run needs to end.
Vélez Sarsfield 3 – 2 Estudiantes