Independiente still don’t know if their goalless first leg against Santos in the Copa Libertadores will be awarded as a 3-0 win but with thoughts clearly on Tuesday’s rematch, Ariel Holan’s rotated side were punished by a well-drilled Defensa y Justicia.
Without Martín Benítez or Maxi Meza it is clear that Independiente have not yet found the necessary guile to break down teams but even lacking that creativity Emmanuel Gigliotti and Nicolás Domingo could well have opened the scoring.
A ponderous Gigliotti spurned a wonderful one-on-one while a powerful Domingo effort from range brought a superb stop from Ezequiel Unsain and it was minutes after this that Defensa y Justicia nicked the decisive goal.
A long punt towards the Independiente penalty area found defender Alexander Barboza and his nod down fell for Nicolás Fernández in space to drill the ball past Martín Campaña.
A second could have quickly followed when a deflected shot ballooned against the post but from that point the visitors looked content to sit back and defend their lead.
Independiente dominated possession but clearly lacked the players required to unlock such an organised defence.
Francisco Silva came from the bench to curl a free kick against the top of the crossbar and Silvio Romero was thrown into the action to see a shot come back off the angle with Unsain beaten but in truth El Rojo were below par.
Attention turns immediately to Santos on Tuesday and while the club await news from CONMEBOL there is a job to do regardless.
Independiente 0 – 1 Defensa y Justicia
Atlético Tucumán are also in Copa Libertadores action this week but secured a 2-1 win over Colón thanks to Rodrigo Aliendro’s blistering last minute strike.
Matías Abero had given El Decano a deserved lead after 20 minutes but Colón were able to draw level before the break when Marcelo Estigarribia finished off a swift counter.
Chances continued to come and just as it looked as though Atlético would be held, Aliendro thundered in a winner. An unstoppable half-volley from the edge of the box crashed into the net off the underside of the bar and handed the home side all three points.
Ricardo Zielinski’s side now head to Medellín looking to make even more history against Atlético Nacional in the Copa Libertadores.