After a week off, San Lorenzo returned to close the gap on Boca Juniors at the top with a narrow 1-0 win over Newell’s Old Boys in the Nuevo Gasómetro.
Despite still trailing the leaders by six points, Los Cuervos haven’t given up on the title and needed to dig deep to see off a determined Newell’s side, who may feel hard done by to leave with nothing.
After Rubén Botta viciously volleyed in Fabricio Coloccini’s header down after only 12 minutes, many would have been excused for thinking that the contest was over given the visitors’ poor form and even worse away record. However, despite sections of the club’s supporters calling for his head, Juan Manuel Llop’s side refused to be defeated and caused San Lorenzo problems.
Nicolás Navarro was perhaps fortunate to avoid punishment for an elbow on Víctor Figueroa when contesting a high ball into the six-yard box as Newell’s pushed forward in search of an equaliser.
And during the second half it was certainly the visitors who looked the more likely. Unable to carve open a clear chance, Navarro wasn’t particularly stretched but Newell’s dominated possession and had more shots on goal.
Despite the improved performance it remains to be seen whether Llop will stay in his job but for San Lorenzo it was a much needed three points. The shine was slightly taken off by goal scorer Botta being stretchered off with what looked like could be another serious knee injury but for now Los Cuervos look the only realistic challenger to Boca Juniors.
San Lorenzo 1 – 0 Newell’s Old Boys
Across town in La Paternal, Argentinos Juniors came back to salvage a point from the visit of Atlético Tucumán in a fiery encounter that saw Bichos manager Alfredo Berti sent off and restrained by the fourth official.
Centre-back Gastón Bojanich headed Argentinos Juniors ahead after only four minutes but the response from Atlético was swift and shortly after a superb counter was finished by Javier Toledo.
The moment of controversy came just before the break when in the space of a few minutes, a narrow offside decision denied Argentinos Juniors a second and then Luis Rodríguez hammered the visitors in front prompting a furious response to the half time whistle.
Argentinos pushed for an equaliser after the break and when two penalty appeals were waved away by Ramiro López it proved too much for Alfredo Berti. The manager’s protests saw the referee send him to the stands but even that required some assistance from the fourth official as Berti ran to confront López.
With tempers frayed, Los Bichos eventually found their equaliser thanks to Rafael García heading into his own net.
A little later in Temperley, Independiente’s second string side were unable to find a way past their relegation threatened hosts.
Ariel Holan made eleven changes to the side that drew in the first leg of the Recopa against Grêmio on Wednesday and despite creating chances a disjointed Independiente couldn’t pick up the win desired to close the gap on the league leaders.
Leandro Fernández, Gonzalo Verón and Silvio Romero all missed decent opportunities but even after Temperley saw Matías Nani sent off for a strong challenge on Diego Rodríguez 20 minutes from time, the home side continued to cause problems.
Challenging for the title was always a long shot for Independiente so 2019 Copa Libertadores qualification remains the achievable target as immediate priority is lifting the Recopa.
Argentinos Juniors 2 – 2 Atlético Tucumán
Temperley 0 – 0 Independiente
While Temperley are at least showing the spirit to continue fighting in the relegation battle, Olimpo look destined for the drop and nothing proves that more than the 5-0 thrashing that the Aurinegro were served by Rosario Central on Saturday evening.
Maximiliano Gómez fired El Canalla ahead after eight minutes and when youngster Andrés Lioi superbly volleyed a second, Olimpo already looked beaten.
Lioi chipped in his second shortly after half time and as Central continued to pour forward the 20-year-old completed his hat-trick.
José Luis Fernández’s deflected shot made it five and such was the level of Olimpo’s limp performance, Central could have had ten. El Canalla haven’t been the most prolific scorers this season but have now chalked up three consecutive wins and have eyes set on the Copa Sudamericana qualification spots.