They say a good goalkeeper is worth several points over the course of a season and on Sunday the Superliga’s two outstanding number ones proved just why, as Independiente’s Martín Campaña and River Plate’s Franco Armani kept their sides in matches before securing valuable away victories.
Independiente managed to come away from Córdoba with a win over a Talleres side hoping to recover second spot while River Plate weathered an early storm against Racing Club to leave Avellaneda with a valuable three points.
Campaña has long been one of El Rojo’s most important players but due to player sales in January and the absences of Maxi Meza, Diego Rodriguez and Fabricio Bustos on Sunday, Independiente were indebted to their captain more than ever.
The Uruguayan had already made one reflex stop to deny Santiago Silva during an opening 20 minutes that had seen Talleres dominate but it was Independiente who led through Gonzalo Verón. Silvio Romero latched onto a long ball and after his attempt to round Guido Herrera forced him wide, it provided Carlos Quintana time to get back and clear his shot off the line. However, Verón was on hand to nod the ball in from close range and break the deadlock.
The goal did little to change the momentum as Talleres continued to flow forward. Campaña blocking a close range Aldo Araujo header with his feet and denying Leonardo Godoy a clear chance after the break.
The equaliser always seemed imminent but instead, a minute from time Independiente broke and substitute Emmanuel Gigliotti curled a superb finish inside Herrera’s far post.
For so long Talleres had been Boca’s title rivals but La T must now ensure that they don’t miss out on Copa Libertadores football. El Rojo climbed back into that important top five with the victory but lead a pack that are just a couple of points away from Talleres.
Talleres 0 – 2 Independiente
With Independiente securing those points, Racing Club needed to respond in order to climb back into those Libertadores spots but La Academia were left to curse River Plate’s signing of Franco Armani.
The recent addition to River’s ranks produced a superb display in front of the surely impressed Jorge Sampaoli to deny Racing what would have been a deserved opening goal and laid the foundation for Marcelo Gallardo’s side to sneak a late victory.
Both River and Racing have struggled to fill the void left by iconic goalkeepers leaving in recent years and while Los Millonarios may feel that they have finally done that with Armani, it was a mistake by Racing youngster Juan Musso that proved critical on Sunday evening.
Racing had been by far the better side as Eduardo Coudet’s hungry, in-form side pressed and harried the life from River during an outstanding opening 45 minutes. Armani had been the difference and one particularly superb save to deny Matías Zaracho had left Racing frustrated.
The visitors improved after the break but Racing still looked the more likely scorers with Lautaro Martínez, Neri Cardozo and Zaracho all going close before the decisive moment on 76 minutes. Musso’s misjudged attempt to launch a quick attack saw the keeper throw the ball straight to Exequiel Palacios and the youngster slipped in fellow substitute Rafael Santos Borré to calmly round Musso and slide in the opener.
Racing still looked like they could get something but unable to find a way past Armani, River countered a minute from time and Palacios slotted in a second.
The victory puts River back up into the Copa Sudamericana places while the battle for Libertadores qualification looks likely to go to the wire with five games remaining.
Racing Club 0 – 2 River Plate