Independiente may have fielded an entirely reserve eleven ahead of this week’s Copa Sudamericana final second leg but Ariel Holan’s resurgent side still had just enough to inflict defeat on Arsenal and end Humberto Grondona’s tenure at the club.
Leandro Fernández, the member of Holan’s side closest to calling himself a first teamer, gave El Rojo the lead when he rifled the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Despite Independiente’s inexperienced team it was still the visitors enjoying the better of things but ten minutes from time, Arsenal equalised. Lucas Wilchez looked a shade offside when he latched onto a flick behind the Independiente defence and poked the ball beyond Damián Albil.
With Arsenal deep in the relegation mire a point would have at least been something but it was Independiente who went looking for the win. The Copa Sudamericana may be the priority but Ariel Holan knew that with his side’s game in hand, they could be just three points off the top of the Superliga.
Youngster Ezequiel Denis had come on for his debut around the hour mark and in the first minute of stoppage time, the 21-year-old ensured it was a night to remember. Breaking at speed down the right, Denis cut inside onto his left foot and hammered the ball past Pablo Santillo.
Victory moved Independiente up to fifth but with a game in hand, El Rojo are well placed for a title challenge in the new year. Arsenal, however, look increasingly destined for life in the Nacional B and following this third consecutive defeat, Humberto Grondona announced his resignation.
Earlier in the Estadio Florencio Sola, Banfield slipped to a third straight loss as Argentinos Juniors were forced to lead three times in order to claim an important victory.
Braian Romero gave the visitors an early lead but having already hit the crossbar, Banfield were soon level when young striker Julián Carranza slid in from close range.
Parity lasted only five minutes thanks to Javier Cabrera squeezing a volley past Facundo Altamirano from a tight angle but Carranza bundled in his second equaliser of the afternoon on the hour mark.
However, just as they had done before, the home side switched off and allowed Romero space on the edge of the box to re-establish the lead.
Banfield piled forward to try and find another but couldn’t find a way past Lucas Chávez or his defence. El Taladro’s form will be a concern for Julio César Falcioni after their outstanding performance last season earned a place in the 2018 Copa Libertadores while Argentinos in ending their own run of poor form were able to ease any creeping fears of relegation.
Banfield 2 – 3 Argentinos Juniors
Arsenal 1 – 2 Independiente