Racing Club’s disappointing start to the season continued in La Paternal on Saturday as Argentinos Juniors claimed their first victory of the season with two late goals against La Academia.
Despite reaching the Copa Sudamericana quarter finals, Diego Cocca will be concerned that his side have won only once this season and his conservative tactics are beginning to frustrate supporters.
Argentinos Juniors, boosted by last weekend’s draw against River, played with a belief that they could beat Racing and for large parts were better than the visitors. Nicolás González saw an excellent chance saved by Gastón Gómez in the first half and Braian Romero blazed over a glorious opportunity after the break.
As the game appeared to be heading for a fourth stalemate of the weekend, Los Bichos nicked it. Romero stole in behind the Racing defence, beating Gómez to the ball and with the goalkeeper stranded, clipped it to the back post for Matías Quiroga to head the ball in from under the crossbar.
With the locals in the Estadio Diego Armando Maradona bouncing, there was still time for Leonardo Pusculichi to make absolutely certain. The 33-year-old lined up a free kick from 40 yards and it bounced beyond the grasp of Gómez.
A vital three points in Argentinos Juniors’ survival bid but a concern for Racing, not only because of the result but the manner of the defeat.
In La Plata, Lanús chalked up a valuable three points against Gimnasia thanks to a José Sand hat-trick but that didn’t mean the game wasn’t without some controversy.
The visitors made a flying start after Gimnasia’s absent defending from a free kick allowed an unmarked Sand to score from close range and in the closing stages of the first half, the lead was doubled. Matías Rojas charged down the left, outpacing Fabián Rinaudo, and with the Gimnasia defender clawing at his shirt the Paraguayan waited until he entered the penalty area before hitting the turf. Patricio Loustau pointed to the spot and Sand tucked away his second.
Gimnasia weren’t happy with the decision but were even more angered at a second awarded midway through the second half. Lautaro Acosta had beaten Rinaudo to the byline and almost overrun the ball and as the Gimnasia defender raised his arm to appeal for a goalkick, Acosta deflected the ball against goalkeeper Alexis Arias and up onto Rinaudo’s arm. Loustau paused for a moment and then gave another penalty, allowing Sand to complete his hat-trick.
Nicolás Mazzola almost immediately headed a goal back for Gimnasia but Lanús were able to see out the win and climb up into eighth.