Independiente travel to Paraguay this week for their Copa Sudamericana semi final so the visit of fellow grande River Plate to Avellaneda was less than ideal. However, River’s goalkeeping woes continued and El Rojo were able to claim a valuable 1-0 win.
Following their Copa Libertadores exit and defeat in the Superclásico, Marcelo Gallardo is experiencing perhaps his most testing time as River manager and saw the trip to the Estadio Libertadores de América as an opportunity to end their five game winless run.
With Independiente resting several players ahead of that Sudamericana semi, River started brightly but all plans were ruined when Germán Lux was sent off after 18 minutes. The experienced keeper was supposed to see an end to the errors that have plagued Augusto Batalla in goal but there were few excuses for the 35-year-old’s decision to race out of his penalty area and handle the ball.
With Enrique Bologna introduced in place of Nicolás de la Cruz, River’s ten men still posed a threat but it allowed Independiente a little more time and El Rojo grew in confidence.
Gonzalo Martínez thundered a shot against the crossbar from 30 yards and Ezequiel Barco shot into the side netting after rounding Bologna as both sides had chances but the deadlock was broken eight minutes from time.
Martín Campaña launched a counter with a swift throw out, the increasingly impressive Juan Sánchez Miño raced down the left and cut the ball back to surprising match winner Nicolás Domingo. The defensive midfielder only left River at the start of the season but stroked his first Independiente goal into the net to seal the points.
River’s Superliga season, in terms of a title challenge, is already over and the end of the year can’t come soon enough for Marcelo Gallardo, who will be desperate to make reinforcements in the transfer market while Independiente have also left themselves with a lot to do in the league, marking the Copa Sudamericana as the number one priority.
In San Juan, San Lorenzo put their defeat to Banfield last time out behind them to claim a 3-1 win over San Martín and climb into second.
Nicolás Blandi, guilty of several misses in that loss before the international break, made amends by slotting in the opening goal just before half time and when Paulo Díaz headed a second on 55 minutes, the points looked to be heading back to Buenos Aires.
In-form San Martín made things interesting when Alvaro Fernández volleyed a goal back but Blandi made certain of the win in stoppage time.
San Lorenzo close to within six points of leaders Boca but must now hope that the champions start dropping points.
San Martín 1 – 3 San Lorenzo
Independiente 1 – 0 River Plate