The sign of champions they say is winning when not playing well and if that is the case then Boca Juniors look well on course to retain their title after a 1-0 win over a second-string Banfield side on Sunday evening.
Just as Boca were made to work harder than expected last week against Temperley, Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s side needed to dig in and ensure that the three points were coming back with them at the Estadio Florencio Sola.
It certainly didn’t look like it was going to be a tough evening for Boca when Carlos Tevez glanced in Cristian Pavón’s cross for the opening goal after two minutes but so it proved as the visitors laboured.
Agustín Fontana and Alexis Maldonado went close to equalising before half time and when Nahitan Nández failed to wrap up the points, hitting the underside of the crossbar rather than the net with the goal gaping, Banfield almost snatched a late leveller only for Juan Alvarez to volley wide.
Despite lacking the fluency and attacking verve that was evident during the earlier parts of the season, Boca have dropped only two points from their last six matches, conceding just once in that time. The Superliga’s best defence and highest scorers are nine points clear and it is difficult to envisage anyone catching them.
Banfield 0 – 1 Boca Juniors
Earlier in El Monumental, River Plate hardly emerged from their torrid run of results but did come from two-down to salvage a point from the visit of Godoy Cruz.
A somewhat under pressure Marcelo Gallardo, after winning just twice in ten games, made several changes to the side and handed starts to summer signings Lucas Pratto, Juan Fernando Quintero and Bruno Zuculini.
The changes almost yielded an immediate reward with reinstated youngster Nicolás de la Cruz seeing a deflected shot come back off the post. However, it wasn’t long before the now familiar defensive frailties became apparent as Juan Garro raced in behind the River back-line and slotted under Franco Armani.
River were then left to fume over referee Jorge Baliño as he waved away a strong penalty claim when Lucas Pratto was tripped and his assistant failed to flag Santiago García offside before the Uruguayan clipped the visitors two in front.
The response from going two-down was good and for the first time in what seems like a long time, River strung together some cohesive, attacking football resulting in Rodrigo Mora scoring his first goal since May. A neat passing move saw Pratto back-heel the ball to Mora and the fan favourite slotted past Leonardo Burián.
Gallardo’s side might have still been creaking defensively but they were attacking with intent once more and when Lucas Pratto scored his first for the club since becoming the record signing, Los Millonarios looked the more likely winners.
A third didn’t follow and in truth either side could have snatched it late on but instead had to settle for a share of the points. It wasn’t the result that River wanted against a Godoy Cruz side, who don’t travel well despite their lofty league position, but there were positives to take for Marcelo Gallardo.
River Plate 2 – 2 Godoy Cruz
Talleres reclaimed second spot despite being unable to come away from San Juan with three points.
Santiago Silva blasted the visitors in front after six minutes but Claudio Spinelli soon equalised with his second in as many games. San Martín have proved tough to beat at home this season and thanks to a couple of good saves by goalkeeper Luis Ardente, Talleres became the latest side to leave frustrated.
Meanwhile in Sarandí, Arsenal’s slow march towards relegation continued but Sergio Rondina’s side did muster a third consecutive draw after holding Huracán.
The visitors started brightly but a soft penalty awarded for a slight touch on Emiliano Purita allowed Lucas Wilchez to give Arsenal the lead. The forward should have doubled the lead when one-on-one with Marcos Díaz as it proved costly when Fernando Coniglio nodded an equaliser.
Arsenal came closest to winning it when Diego Cháves smashed a sensational long range effort against the crossbar but the draw was probably the fair result.
San Martín 1 – 1 Talleres
Arsenal 1 – 1 Huracán