The Copa Sudamericana dream may have come to end in heartbreaking circumstances last week but Defensa y Justicia continue to go from strength to strength in the Superliga and with Monday evening’s 3-2 win over Vélez Sarsfield, El Halcón climbed up into second.
The only undefeated team in the top flight, Sebastián Beccacece’s impressive side were made to work for their latest victory after Vélez’s dazzling teenage star Thiago Almada scored twice in Florencio Varela. However, in securing another three points, Defensa y Justicia not only closed to within five points of leaders Racing Club but with two games still in-hand could yet reach the summit.
That looked under threat during the opening exchanges against Vélez as the visitors tested goalkeeper Ezequiel Unsain and deservedly led just after the half hour mark. Almada, handed his first start by Gabriel Heinze in a somewhat unfamiliar false nine role, spun away from Leonel Miranda and after dashing towards goal drove the ball into the bottom corner for a sensational maiden senior strike.
The goal sparked a reaction from Defensa y Justicia and in an effort to prevent Alexander Barboza’s goal-bound header creeping in, Vélez midfielder Nicolás Domínguez nodded into his own net. Not content with just the equaliser the home side led before half time as for the second time in as many weeks, Matías Rojas produced a superb free-kick to put El Halcón ahead.
Rojas would add a second at the end of a brilliant counter to double the home side’s lead but with Almada, somewhat fortuitously, pulling one back at the second attempt, Vélez set up a nervy finish.
Heinze’s side may well have snatched a point as they piled forward in the closing stages but Defensa y Justicia held on for the win and might yet form an unlikely title challenge.
Defensa y Justicia 3 – 2 Vélez Sarsfield
Huracán followed that victory by climbing into third with a win over Lanús although admittedly the points were secured in slightly less entertaining fashion.
The only goal of the game came moments after half time as Nicolás Thaller stuck out a boot and unfortunately toe-poked a low cross into his own net.
Lanús may have become a little harder to beat since Luis Zubeldía took over but still are still lacking creatively and so for all the home side’s efforts they were unable to find an equaliser.