Independiente’s wafer-thin title aspirations were ended on Saturday evening as Atlético Tucumán secured a 2-0 victory in Avellaneda to leave El Rojo now fighting for 2019 Copa Libertadores qualification.
Ariel Holan’s side had dropped points before the international break needed three points and despite naming Argentina duo Fabricio Bustos and Maxi Meza back in the starting eleven, El Rojo failed to find a way past the visitors.
Even more worryingly for Independiente was Meza’s substitution during the first half after appearing to pull his hamstring and after El Rojo’s talisman limped off so too did any attacking fluidity.
Guillermo Acosta slid in the opening goal from close range shortly after half time and despite El Decano having Rodrigo Aliendro sent off ten minutes from time, Acosta added a second to hand Atlético a deserved win.
Independiente remain in sixth, still with a game in hand on almost all the teams around, but must recover some form if they are to secure a Libertadores spot.
Independiente 0 – 2 Atlético Tucumán
Earlier in La Plata, Argentinos Juniors earned an impressive victory over Gimnasia with a little help from the Mac Allister brothers.
Los Bichos had missed two clear chances in the opening 45 minutes but did eventually take the lead when Nicolás González took advantage of some woeful defending to thrash the ball past Alexis Arias.
Kevin Mac Allister doubled the lead, heading in his brother Alexis’ corner and although Omar Alderete swiftly pulled a goal back for Gimnasia, Alexis secured the win thanks to a goalkeeping howler by Arias.
With relegation far from the minds of Argentinos Juniors, a place in the 2019 Copa Sudamericana continues to be a realistic goal.
And finally in Santa Fe, Unión slipped up to draw 1-1 with San Martín.
Substitute Matías Gallegos looked to have won it for the home side, slotting in an 83rd minute opener but Claudio Spinelli’s smart turn and finish brought San Martín level and ensured a share of the points.