The Copa Libertadores may have ended in disappointment for Racing Club on Wednesday but La Academia bounced back to deservedly hand Rosario Central a first defeat of the season and with it climb to the top of the Superliga.
With Ricardo Centurión attracting unwanted attention in the defeat to River Plate and Gustavo Bou yet to reach the levels that many expected on his return, Eduardo Coudet made changes to his side on Sunday morning. The result was impressive against a Central side, who under Edgardo Bauza have been revitalised and were yet to concede prior to their visit to the Cilindro.
La Academia were the better side from the outset and only the finest of offsides denied Lisandro López breaking the deadlock during the first half.
However, the Racing captain didn’t have to wait long after the break when a corner from the left was flicked on and López unmarked at the back post tapped in.
An outstanding double save by Jeremías Ledesma prevented a second but the Central goalkeeper could do nothing to stop substitute Gustavo Bou squaring for Augusto Solari to double the lead five minutes from time.
Eduardo Coudet has already spoken about Racing’s obligation to fight for the title and with the Libertadores dream over, La Academia have made a terrific start with what is undoubtedly a talented group to do just that.
Racing Club 2 – 0 Rosario Central
Neighbours Independiente did progress to the Copa Libertadores quarter finals but continue to underwhelm when it comes to the Superliga and after an error-strewn first half fought back to claim a draw with Estudiantes in Quilmes.
Estudiantes suffered an agonising exit at the hands of Libertadores champions Grêmio but showed no ill-effects on Sunday with a quick start against their sluggish visitors.
Only six minutes in, Matías Pellegrini crossed from the left and fellow academy product Juan Apaolaza rose unmarked in the six yard box to plant his header firmly past Martín Campaña.
If Ariel Holan would have been frustrated at his side’s defending for the first, the Independiente manager will have have been incandescent at Estudiantes’ second. A throw-in from the right bounced across the penalty area, first air-kicked by Francisco Silva then over the head of Fabricio Bustos allowing Pellegrini to thrash a volley into the net.
One of the worst 45 minutes under Holan, Independiente brought Emmanuel Gigliotti on at the break and while El Rojo got some help from the linesman the response was immediate. Silvio Romero slid the ball across goal to Braian Romero and with the flag staying down a simple tap-in reduced the deficit.
It was now the visitors on top and eight minutes later Independiente were level. The Romeros swapped roles as Braian chested the ball down to Silvio and the former Lanús forward took a touch before slotting past Mariano Andújar.
Independiente looked the more likely winners suddenly until another officiating blunder saw Nicolás Figal sent off. Referee Ariel Penel appeared to get the wrong man when he showed the Independiente defender a second yellow when in fact Francisco Silva was the guilty party but the man advantage gave Estudiantes a new lease of life.
However, a third error denied El Pincha a winner. Apaolaza latched onto a ball over the top to loop a header over Campaña only for an incorrect offside flag to chalk off the 21-year-old’s second.
El Rojo remain winless after three games and while the Libertadores will remain the club’s immediate focus, Ariel Holan will demand more after the international break in order to climb the table.