As the most successful side in the competition’s history, Independiente are desperate for a return to the Copa Libertadores and after the damaging defeat to Boca Juniors two weeks ago, El Rojo got back on track with a 2-1 win over Defensa y Justicia in Florencio Varela.
Alexander Barboza eventually broke the deadlock, after an open start in which both sides had created chances, when Independiente only partially cleared a corner and from the resulting header back into the penalty area an unmarked Barboza volleyed past Martín Campaña.
Independiente manager Ariel Holan only left Defensa y Justicia last year and his new side were immediately level when the ever-dangerous Emiliano Rigoni cut the ball back for Nery Domínguez to smash in an equaliser from the edge of the box.
The game hung in the balance with the next goal always likely to be critical and with ten minutes remaining Ezequiel Barco effortlessly flicked the ball into the path of Juan Sánchez Miño for the full-back to clip it over Gabriel Arias.
The victory in what was a match postponed from Round 17 moves Independiente level on points with Newell’s Old Boys in fifth and with three matches to play, El Rojo know that their qualification for the 2018 Copa Libertadores is in their hands.
Holan’s side will have also been boosted by the result in the first match of Round 28 that took place a little later on Thursday evening as Colón returned to form to record a first win in six and defeated San Lorenzo.
Nicolás Leguizamón’s scrappy opener shortly before half time was cancelled out within minutes of the restart by an equally ragged Fernando Belluschi goal but parity didn’t last long and after Diego Vera robbed Marcos Senesi, the ball found its way to Facundo Pereyra who made no mistake in firing past Nicolás Navarro.
Clemente Rodríguez’s sending off a minute later gave the visitors hope but unable to muster an equaliser Franco Mussis’ reckless red card late on signalled the end of the challenge.
Diego Aguirre’s side remain in the Copa Libertadores places for now but having played a game more, by the end of the weekend Los Cuervos may well have dropped in the table.