Three straight wins for Racing Club suggest things are starting to click in Avellaneda and although Lanús were left fuming over Germán Delfino waving a way a clear first half penalty, El Granate were ultimately well beaten by an Academia side growing in confidence.
Lanús, who ended a winless run that dated back to October with victory over River Plate last week, started brightly and should probably have been ahead in the Cilindro. Nicolás Thaller clattered the crossbar, Iván Marcone headed over unmarked and then the game’s big talking point occurred. Lautaro Acosta left Alejandro Donatti in his wake and a mistimed challenge looked to everyone, apart from referee Germán Delfino, a certain penalty.
Having ridden their luck, Racing then broke the deadlock and just to rub salt into the wound of Lanús, Donatti rose to power a header past Esteban Andrada.
From this point Racing began to take control and aside from Donatti making a vital block from an Alejandro Silva shot, it was almost all the home side.
Even after Lisandro López limped off for Racing, Eduardo Coudet’s side continued on the front foot. Lautaro Martínez, who took the captain’s armband and had Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli watching, had forced Andrada into one good stop when just after the hour mark the youngster again forced the Lanús keeper into action only on this occasion for Ricardo Centurión to arrive and power in the rebound.
Martínez was again impressing and while Sampaoli didn’t witness any more goals from the 20-year-old, the Argentina coach did see a tremendous assist for Racing’s third. Chesting the ball down some 40 yards from goal, Martínez flicked and spun around Enzo Ortíz to bear down on the Lanús goal but rather than finishing himself, El Toro rolled the ball into Augusto Solari for a simple tap-in.
Román Martínez pulled a goal back with a free header but if either side looked like the scoring next it remained Racing.
There is certainly more to come from Racing but with Martínez and Centurión in attack, La Academia have the weapons to hurt any side.
Racing Club 3 – 1 Lanús
Later in Córdoba, Vélez Sarsfield secured a surprising point away to Belgrano thanks to a stoppage time Agustín Bouzat equaliser.
Belgrano were aiming to climb into the Copa Libertadores qualifying spots with victory and given Pablo Lavallén’s side were yet to concede a goal at the Gigante de Alberdi this season, Matías Suárez’s third minute penalty looked like it could be decisive.
Vélez weren’t happy at referee Nicolás Lamolina’s decision to punish Marco Torsiglieri’s holding at a corner but didn’t let it affect them and were level within minutes. Lucas Robertone clipped the ball over to Mauro Zárate, who had peeled off Erik Godoy, and the returning hero chested the ball down to emphatically finish past Lucas Acosta. A first home goal conceded for Belgrano and Zárate’s first back in a Vélez shirt.
Both sides had chances but when Suárez reestablished Belgrano’s lead 15 minutes from time, it looked as though it would seal the points. Vélez didn’t give up and two minutes into injury time, substitute Agustín Bouzat swivelled to volley in Luis Abram’s nod down.
The point was the least that Vélez deserved after what has been a difficult couple of weeks under new manager Gabriel Heinze and while it wasn’t the victory that would ease the fear of relegation, it was a massive step in the right direction.
In La Plata, Estudiantes leapfrogged Unión after a 2-0 win. Unión, lacking their usual attacking threat in the injury absence of Lucas Gamba, came closest to breaking the deadlock thanks to Facundo Sánchez almost putting the ball into his own net.
However, Estudiantes led soon after when Gastón Giménez drove down the right and his low cross was slid in by Lucas Melano. Unión have now not scored in three games and so when Juan Otero raced in behind chasing a hopeful, long ball and volleyed past Nereo Fernández, the result didn’t look in doubt.
One win in five has derailed Unión’s surprising Copa Libertadores qualification bid but an Estudiantes side, unbeaten in four, are looking in good shape for a challenge of their own.
Estudiantes 2 – 0 Unión
Belgrano 2 – 2 Vélez Sarsfield