While Independiente manager Ariel Holan cuts a concerned figure after another disappointing defeat, Juan Pablo Vojvoda’s Defensa y Justicia go from strength to strength with a third consecutive win over one of Argentinian football’s grandes.
Back at the Estadio Libertadores de América where Independiente suffered a damaging 1-0 defeat to Corinthians in the Copa Libertadores last week, El Rojo were keen to bounce back and edge closer to qualification for the 2019 tournament but were instead dealt a similar loss.
A Defensa y Justicia side fresh off victories over Boca Juniors and Racing Club were not likely to be push over and so it proved as Vojvoda’s well drilled and hard working side limited a poor Independiente to virtually nothing.
Devoid of ideas the home side struggled to break down El Halcón and with the visitors more than content to sit back and attempt to counter there was little goal-mouth action at either end.
If there was to be a goal it looked as though it would be decisive and in the 56th minute the visitors claimed it. A free-kick from the right skidded through the crowded penalty box, goalkeeper Martín Campaña fumbled against the post just as he did against Corinthians and this time, Mariano Bareiro was on hand to poke the ball into the net.
With little response it was difficult to argue Independiente deserved any more from the game but it was a worrying time for Ariel Holan. Qualification from the group stage of this year’s Copa Libertadores hangs in the balance and this defeat leaves El Rojo in sixth, one point behind Huracán in the final spot for a place in next year’s tournament.
In-form Defensa y Justicia meanwhile, look in good shape to emerge with a place in the Copa Sudamericana.
Independiente 0 – 1 Defensa y Justicia
Earlier in Santa Fe, Colón also did their chances of qualifying for the Copa Sudamericana no harm with an emphatic 4-0 win over Patronato.
Two poorly defended corners at either end of the first half saw Javier Correa poach goals to give Colón a commanding but deserved lead and there was no real improvement from Patronato after the break.
The usually deadly Sebastián Ribas should have pulled a goal back for the visitors with a glorious headed chance but when Alan Ruiz slotted in a third for Colón the result was beyond doubt.
Gustavo Toledo smashed in a fourth late on to complete the rout and with it Colón climb into the last Copa Sudamericana spot.