The year-long Primera season finally drew to a close last night and all that had been left to decide on Tuesday evening – who would be representing Argentina in the 2018 Copa Libertadores – was resolved.
Ultimately a point would have been enough for Estudiantes but El Pincha were first to secure their qualification on Tuesday with a 1-0 win over Quilmes in Sarandí. After the already relegation Cerveceros were reduced to ten men with Lucas Carrizo sent off 20 minutes from time, Lucas Viatri snatched all three points for Estudiantes.
The win ensured that El Pincha joined Boca Juniors and River Plate in the Libertadores and so Racing Club and Banfield were left to nervously watch Independiente and San Lorenzo kick off a little later.
Newell’s Old Boys had also been in action at the same time as Estudiantes but the wheels had come off for La Lepra some weeks ago. First, any hopes of the title vanished, later the Libertadores went up in smoke, and on Tuesday in Rosario, interim coach Juan Pablo Vojvoda watched his side slump to a 2-0 defeat against Godoy Cruz. Santiago Garcia and Javier Correa gave the visitors the win to send the locals home, thoroughly fed up.
And so, the last two matches of the season were to decide the final two Copa Libertadores places. Wins for Independiente and San Lorenzo would see both sides qualify and relegate Racing and Banfield to the Copa Sudamericana but lady luck shone on the two onlookers as neither could secure the points required.
San Lorenzo’s 1-1 draw away to Talleres was perhaps a fair reflection on an even match in which both sides created chances and while Nicolás Blandi’s 94th minute penalty was enough to avoid defeat, following Leonardo Godoy’s opener, it wasn’t enough for the three points needed to secure a Libertadores place.
While Los Cuervos maybe didn’t do enough in Córdoba, Independiente will still be wondering how on earth they only drew against Lanús in Avellaneda.
Emiliano Rigoni had given El Rojo a deserved first half lead with a thumping volley but there was a sense that the missed chances might prove costly and so it proved when the home side were guilty of gifting possession in their own half and allowing Diego Aguirre to eventually hammer home an equaliser.
Independiente continued to pile forward and were awarded a penalty for a trip on Rigoni, which also saw Aguirre sent off for his protestations. However, Ezequiel Barco was left heartbroken when his spotkick was saved by Esteban Andrada. The Lanús keeper and some typically wasteful finishing saw several more opportunities come to nothing and eventually the full time whistle brought to an end, El Rojo’s fight.
The visitors securing a point meant rivals Banfield, qualified and with them Independiente’s neighbours Racing celebrated another year in the Libertadores.