Argentine football may throw up the unexpected on a regular basis but a relegation candidate against the runaway leaders proved to be the mismatch it appeared on paper as Racing Club eased to victory over Gimnasia.
Ricardo Centurión should probably already have had Racing two in front by the time the deadlock was eventually broken after half an hour. An Alexis Arias toe denied Centurión once before an almost inexplicable open goal miss and when it was looking like it could be one of those afternoon’s for the controversial forward, Centu headed in the most difficult chance of the lot.
Javier García in the Racing goal flapping at a cross had provided Gimnasia with their best chance of the first half but Nery Domínguez was back to clear and when Racing doubled their lead shortly after half time the result was put beyond doubt.
Gimnasia’s absent defending allowed Iván Pillud to push on from right-back and his low cross was turned in gratefully by Lisandro López in so much space it was as if the home side were waiting for the referee to blow for a non-existent decision.
The only remaining question was whether Racing could add to their lead and three minutes from time they did. Jan Hurtado hauled López to the ground at a free-kick and the Racing captain got up to score from the spot and seal the points.
Racing’s seven-point lead at the top could be cut by a few teams with games still in-hand but for now La Academia remain the team to beat and if Eduardo Coudet’s side can maintain this advantage until the end of the year, they will be very tough to catch.
Gimnasia 0 – 3 Racing Club
For the time being it is local rivals Independiente in second after Ariel Holan’s side secured a hard fought three points from the visit of Belgrano to Avellaneda.
While few could argue that El Rojo didn’t deserve their win over Belgrano, the home side did their best to squander their superiority with two penalty misses and the performance of referee Germán Delfino will rightly be questioned.
With Belgrano scrapping for survival it was expected that Independiente would be dominate and when the Superliga’s leading scorer Emmanuel Gigliotti twice went close to breaking the deadlock it seemed only a matter of time before the supporters in the Estadio Libertadores de América were celebrating a goal.
However, against the run of play it was Belgrano who led when Emanuel Britez collided with Sebastían Luna in midair prompting Delfino to point to the spot and allowing Leonardo Sequiera to slot past Martín Campaña. Minutes later Delfino was again at the heart of the action when he showed Juan Quiroga a straight red for a perceived aggressive challenge on the edge of the Belgrano penalty box and as if that weren’t enough, the official levelled things up sending Maxi Meza off for dissent.
Ten versus ten and Independiente were level before the break, Britez spinning in the six yard box to turn in a loose ball and while only one winner looked likely, the decisive goal wasn’t without controversy.
Braian Romero was introduced at the break by Ariel Holan and on the hour mark the forward tapped in Fabricio Bustos’ drilled cross only for replays to show that he was clearly offside.
Silvio Romero seeing a penalty saved by César Rigamonti before volleying against the crossbar and then Gigliotti also missing from the spot meant it was hard to argue Independiente were lucky but it could easily have been another afternoon of frustration for El Rojo.
Independiente 2 – 1 Belgrano
The Superclásico wasn’t the only derby being played in Buenos Aires on Sunday but Boca and River seemed to use up all the excitement as Banfield and Lanús played out a goalless draw in the Estadio Florencio Sola.
That stalemate was certainly helped by further examples of poor officiating since Lautaro Acosta had a perfectly valid opener ruled out for offside and Adrián Calello saw a marginal decision against Darío Cvitanich disallow his effort shortly after.
Lanús will certainly feel more aggrieved and came closest to snatching a winner in the second half when Nicolás Pasquini bent a free-kick against the crossbar but in a game of little quality neither side really did enough.