After a quiet transfer window, San Lorenzo had hoped that simply keeping their squad together would be enough to maintain a title challenge but the club may already be questioning that decision after slumping to defeat against Talleres in Córdoba.
Talleres, who had enjoyed an excellent first half of the season, had reason to feel wounded after seeing Emanuel Reynoso and Jonathan Menéndez leave in the final days of the window, but showed no signs of deterioration as they deservedly began 2018 with victory on manager Frank Kudelka’s 100th game in charge.
A bright start had already seen the hosts go close and have a decent shout for a penalty when the breakthrough came in the 38th minute. The ever-impressive Leonardo Godoy marauding forward from right-back was chopped down by Gabriel Rojas and when referee Facundo Tello pointed to the spot, Lucas Olaza smashed in the resulting spot kick.
San Lorenzo were in desperate need of inspiration to turn things around but a five-minute spell before the hour mark, ended any hopes of coming back. Alexis Castro was sent off for a clumsy rather than malicious studs-up challenge and shortly after Gonzalo Rodríguez was shown a second yellow for a wayward arm catching Godoy in the face.
Claudio Biaggio’s nine men bravely tried to claw their way back in and were it not for an outstanding Guido Herrera save would have pulled level. However, five minutes from time, Talleres worked the ball to Aldo Araujo in space and the forward made no mistake in finishing past Nicolás Navarro.
Despite the loss of important players, Talleres climb into third, still three points behind San Lorenzo but the result means that Boca Juniors could open up a six-point lead at the top on Saturday evening.
Earlier, Banfield came from a goal down to net an injury time winner and inflict defeat on Cristian Ledesma on his first game in charge of relegation threatened Tigre.
Ledesma’s side started brightly and deservedly led after 25 minutes when Carlos Luna picked himself up after being bundled over by Jorge Rodríguez to score from the penalty spot. However, the lead was cancelled out almost immediately as Darío Cvitanich arrived to volley in Pablo Mouche’s header down.
Both sides had chances to win during the second half but during injury time, Nicolás Bertolo got in behind the Tigre defence and after taking a touch around Federico Crivelli, invited contact to win a penalty. Cvitanich stepped up to keep his cool and slot in the winner, inflicting a first defeat for Ledesma and leaving Tigre only one place above the relegation zone.
In Mendoza, Godoy Cruz began 2018 with victory but found Chacarita Juniors a tougher opponent than perhaps many expected. The visitors had the chances to take something back to Buenos Aires but ultimately were undone by Mauro Matos’ unfortunate own goal. The veteran striker’s inadvertent header deflected Pol Fernández’s corner into his own net on the half hour mark and its proved to be decisive.