The new Superliga season got underway on Friday evening and despite a frustrating winter break Vélez Sarsfield made a perfect start with victory over Newell’s Old Boys while an action-packed first half in Victoria saw Tigre and San Lorenzo share the points.
After a promising first campaign under Gabriel Heinze, Vélez had been left frustrated over the past few weeks primarily by Mauro Zárate’s decision to sign for Boca rather than continue at the club as agreed. However, supporters in Liniers didn’t have to wait long to have reason to cheer on Friday as an unmarked Luis Abram headed them in front against Newell’s after only a minute.
Minutes later and it could have been two when the ever-impressive Matías Vargas twisted away from attention in central midfield to thread a pass though to Agustín Bouzat and only a handball outside his area by goalkeeper Nelson Ibáñez denied the forward.
Newell’s were on the ropes and fortunate a defender was deemed just far back enough to save Ibáñez from seeing red but that luck held only momentarily. Another Vélez corner and in an effort to stop Abram on this occasion, Fabricio Fontanini hauled down the Peruvian allowing Vargas to stroke home from the penalty spot.
The visitors never looked like getting back in the game and so Vélez held on for the points with relative ease.
Vélez Sarsfield 2 – 0 Newell’s Old Boys
A little later in Victoria, the lack of quality at times from both Tigre and San Lorenzo may not have surprised the 2-2 scoreline certainly did.
San Lorenzo’s third place finish last term was at odds with their level of football over the past few months and Claudio Biaggio’s side started painfully slowly against Tigre.
The home side, battling relegation this season, led after five minutes thanks to Lucas Menossi’s stunning volley. Gonzalo Rodríguez’s header dropped to the defensive midfielder on the edge of the box and one touch on the thigh was followed by a superb strike into the top corner.
And it got better for Tigre five minutes later. A poor Nicolás Navarro clearance saw the home side immediately back on the attack and working the ball to Federico González, the striker rifled the ball into the net.
Tigre needed to hold that lead but were undone midway through the first half when Nicolás Blandi bundled in from close range. Referee Fernando Espinoza initially ruled it out for offside but after consulting his linesman and information from the fourth official the goal stood with replays showing that the ball had actually arrived at the feet of Blandi off the head of Sebastián Prediger.
If San Lorenzo’s opener was somewhat self-inflicted, the equaliser was a gift. Ignacio Canuto underhit a backpass and with goalkeeper Gonzalo Marinelli out of his box it left Nicolás Reneiro with a simple finish.
Four first half goals inevitably made way for a goalless second period and the two sides had to settle for a point. Tigre remain in the relegation zone and the result also appeared to confirm that the chances of San Lorenzo improving on last season’s finish are slim.