While neighbours Racing Club still have plenty to do in order to set up a potential clásico de Avellaneda semi final, Independiente have one foot in the next round of the Copa Sudamericana after romping to a 4-1 victory over Nacional in Asunción.
After a week of threats to manager Ariel Holan from the barra bravas, captain Nicolás Tagliafico suspended and forward Martín Benítez out injured, Independiente supporters would have been justifiably anxious over the trip to the Estadio Defensores del Chaco.
Such apprehension proved misplaced though as El Rojo produced a fine performance that for once was not punctuated with a host of glaring misses.
Centre back Fernando Amorebieta was forced off early with a broken nose after catching a stray elbow from Nacional striker Luis Caballero but within minutes Independiente led. Ezequiel Barco feeding Maxi Meza, who kept his cool to slot the ball past Santiago Rojas.
Barco almost bent in a second from the edge of the penalty area before Nacional struck back. A corner from the right being headed back across goal where Caballero, perhaps fortunate to have gone unpunished for the incident earlier, nodded in from close range.
Independiente could have panicked but Holan’s side showed an impressive resolve to continue attacking and after a bright start to the second half, soon retook the lead. Lucas Albertengo had already wasted a good chance when he crossed to the backpost for Leandro Fernández to head in.
El Rojo sensed there was a chance for more and when Ezequiel Barco was tripped cutting into the penalty area, the opportunity for number three was gift wrapped. Fernández saw his spot kick saved but was fortunate with the rebound and was able to stroke the ball into an unguarded net.
Still not content with the two-goal lead, Independiente continued to come forward and sliced through the Nacional defence once more in the 77th minute. Albertengo and Fernández exchanging passes to bypass goalkeeper Rojas and leave the former with a simple tap in.
Nacional travel to Avellaneda next Thursday but will be aware that they have left a mountain to climb. Independiente three ahead and with four away goals are surely in the semi finals and must wait and see if Racing Club can overturn their defeat to Libertad.