Racing and Banfield face a nervous wait until Tuesday evening to discover if they have done enough to qualify for the 2018 Copa Libertadores but La Academia will certainly be feeling better about their chances after victory in the Estadio Florencio Sola on Sunday.
Only Boca had defeated Julio César Falcioni’s over-achievers on their own patch this season and until last week, El Taladro were the only side that could still prevent the now champions lifting the title. However, a determined Racing performance has seriously dented Banfield’s hopes of even qualifying for the Copa Libertadores now, while La Academia just hope all three results on Tuesday don’t go against them.
With so much at stake a strong refereeing performance was needed but Fernando Rapallini and his team incorrectly ruled out a goal for each team during a first half that threatened to boil over on several occasions, fuelled by the inept officiating.
Racing eventually led less than two minutes after the restart when Marcos Acuña accurately found the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area but when Diego Cocca’s side retreated to defend their lead, Banfield took the initiative.
Darío Cvitanich forced an equaliser after a Gastón Gómez double-save but no sooner had the home side drawn level, Racing struck back. Ivan Pillud, the unlikeliest of saviours, drilling a shot from distance that took a slight deflection and crept past Hilario Navarro.
Banfield, desperate to avoid defeat and not lose their grip on a Copa Libertadores place, pushed forward and were caught on the counter, Diego González tapping in the third to seal victory and break hearts.
Estudiantes, San Lorenzo and Independiente close their campaigns on Tuesday; if all three are victorious, Racing lose their top five position and a place in the Copa Libertadores, while for Banfield, the only hope now is that two of those three slips up.
River Plate confirmed their 2018 Libertadores spot after a goalless draw with Colón in Santa Fe. The home side will probably feel they did enough to defeat Marcelo Gallardo’s heavily-rotated side but couldn’t find a way past Augusto Batalla.
River join Boca as the only other guaranteed side in the continent’s most important competition while Colón have a spot in the Copa Sudamericana confirmed.