When San Martín saw goalkeeper Ignacio Arce sent off after quarter of an hour and unbeaten league leaders Racing Club took the lead after just after half time, the result in Tucumán looked in no doubt. However, with La Academia unable to find a second, veteran striker Claudio Bieler struck twice to inflict a damaging defeat on his former club and hand San Martín a first win of the season.
Few would have seen such a comeback coming but it was a curious night at the Estadio La Ciudadela after a lengthy delay to the kick-off due to the floodlights not working.
The game did eventually get underway and although Racing threw away a two-goal lead to draw with Boca Juniors before the international break, the visitors were up and running quickly in Tucumán. A long ball over the top looked to release Lisandro López and as Arce dashed out of his area to cut out the pass his handball ensured that it couldn’t reach its target. Referee Nicolás Lamolina spotted it and went for his red card and although the home side raged, the replays did support the officials.
Racing were able to enjoy even greater possession but barring a good double save by substitute Jorge Carranza to deny López and Jonathan Cristaldo, La Academia were struggling to break down the hosts.
That was until three minutes into the second half when Ricardo Centurión crossed for Augusto Solari to head Racing in front.
Racing were breaking at will and only two superb stops by Carranza prevented Cristaldo and Centurión from adding a second but the only question at this point was when would that decisive goal come.
Until the 72nd minute when Franco Costa got the better of Lucas Orban down the right and crossed for Bieler to head in unmarked from close range. The home support went wild but with the 20 minutes still remaining the hopes of a point still looked slim, particularly when Eduardo Coudet was able to thrown on Gustavo Bou to join the stacked attack.
However, five minutes later things got worse for Racing. Matías García raced away from two challenges and his cut back found Bieler, who emphatically beat Javier García.
Marcelo Díaz came closest to pulling Racing level but the game had slipped away. With hindsight, Coudet’s decision to cautiously replace Pol Fernández for Díaz when leading one-nil was an error and the defeat could prove costly as Racing missed the chance to stretch their lead at the top.
San Martín had been without a win and remain entrenched in relegation but if any result and performance could spark an upturn in form it was this.
San Martín de Tucumán 2 – 1 Racing Club
While it was a bad day at the office for Racing, neighbours Independiente produced one of their best performances in a while to convincingly beat Huracán in Avellaneda.
Only two minutes were on the clock when Fernando Gaibor slipped an inch-perfect pass through to Emmanuel Gigliotti to slot in the opener and the goal set the tone for the afternoon.
The much-maligned Gaibor was outstanding and Gigliotti has begun this Superliga season in the best form of his career. Maxi Meza and Ezequiel Cerutti both had clear chances and El Rojo could easily have been three-up inside quarter of an hour.
Chances continued to come and eventually on the hour mark Martín Benítez doubled the lead, Gigliotti finding him on the edge of the penalty area and the 24-year-old firing low past Marcos Diaz.
How it was only two was the question and so when Diego Mendoza headed a goal back, it could have set up a nervy ending in the Estadio Libertadores de América. However, Fabricio Bustos released Gigliotti to add his second and seal the win, the 31-year-old’s eighth goal of the campaign already.
Given the number of injury absences, Ariel Holan may have been concerned about the visit of Huracán but his side were outstanding and if the likes of Gaibor can maintain such a level, El Rojo could make up lost ground in the league.
Independiente 3 – 1 Huracán
Earlier in La Paternal and Argentinos Juniors’ poor start to the season continued with a 1-0 defeat to Unión.
Santiago Zurbriggen headed the visitors in front early and that spelled concern for Los Bichos who have only scored in one of their eight matches so far. Ezequiel Carboni’s toothless side were unable to find a way back and with it Unión were able to climb at least momentarily up into second.
Leapfrogging Atlético Tucumán, who needed an 88th minute equaliser to take a point from their trip to Estudiantes.
Youngster Nahuel Estévez had a mixed afternoon in Quilmes, giving Estudiantes the lead only to be shown a second yellow card and allow Atlético a route back into the game.
In truth, El Decano had already been applying pressure and both sides had rattled the woodwork but with the man advantage, the equaliser eventually came. Rodrigo Aliendro nodded in two minutes from time and with it took a share of the points.