This year’s Copa Argentina has already seen its fair share of upsets but Independiente didn’t take any risks of becoming the latest on Friday night as Ariel Holan’s side set a new cup record, thrashing Primera D side Central Ballester 8-0 in Formosa.
Slotted into the preseason schedule and ahead of Independiente’s trip to Japan for the Suruga Bank trophy, Holan named a full-strength side with new signings Francisco Silva and Pablo Hernández in midfield and the gulf in class between the Superliga giants with the fifth tier club was vast.
The first real attack of the game in the seventh minutes saw Juan Sánchez Miño burst forward down the left and his cut back was swept in by Martín Benítez and from this point the tie was effectively over. Minutes later a goalkeeping parry dropped to Fernando Gaibor and the Ecuadorian easily fired in the rebound and when Silvio Romero poked in a third with only a quarter of an hour gone, it was only a question of how many El Rojo would score.
With the foot off the gas, Independiente didn’t add to the tally before half time but only 22 seconds into the second half, Maxi Meza darted into the penalty, was tripped and subsequently slotted in the fourth from the spot. After a disappointing World Cup campaign, the midfielder was clearly relieved to be back on the pitch and enjoying his football once more.
A glorious passing move that started from defence sliced through the out of depth Ballester side and Benítez thrashed in his second from an acute angle before the 24-year-old completed his hat-trick with a simple close range finish. Liga MX club Santos Laguna reportedly tabled a bid for Benítez this week and in spite of the opposition the academy product looks to be maintaining his fine form from earlier in the year.
Silvio Romero strolled through to pass number seven into the net and recent signing Carlos Benavídez came off the bench to fire in a debut goal late on.
Far greater tests lie ahead and it will be either San Martín de San Juan or Brown de Adrogue up next in the last 32 but scoring eight for the first time since 2000 is a tremendous boost ahead of an important year for Ariel Holan and his side.
Independiente 8 – 0 Central Ballester
Earlier in Morón, Tigre avoided an upset by seeing off a spirited Brown de Puerto Madryn thanks to Diego Morales’ fine first half goal. A rare moment of quality on a heavy, rain soaked pitch saw the 31-year-old cut inside onto his right foot and bend the ball inside the far post midway and that proved enough.
And in Sarandí, Olimpo knocked out Aldosivi after a 1-1 draw had forced penalties. Olimpo had relegated Aldosivi two seasons ago but now find themselves passing one another with El Tiburón sealing an immediate promotion back to the top flight and Olimpo sliding down into the Nacional B.
Leonel Galeano had nodded the Superliga club in front early but Martín Ferreyra swiftly levelled things and with neither side able to find a winner, it was decided at the spot. With both sides guilty of misses, Leandro Lacunza eventually sealed it providing a boost after last season’s relegation.
Tigre will play Central Córdoba and Olimpo now face either Gimnasia or Sportivo Belgrano in the last 32.