Argentine football has had more than enough accusations of corruption and conspiracy theories in recent weeks but Independiente added further fuel on Sunday evening after an awful refereeing performance by Darío Herrera saw Boca Juniors pull off a smash-and-grab victory in Avellaneda.
Pablo Moyano, Independiente vice-president, and son of club president Hugo Moyano, a leading union figure and critic of president Mauricio Macri, believes that El Rojo are the target of a campaign and while such conspiratorial chatter is unlikely to gain much traction, the performance of referee Darío Herrera certainly was a contributing factor to the result on Sunday.
Ahead of the Copa Libertadores final second leg in Madrid next weekend, Boca Juniors were not quite at full strength but such is the squad available to Guillermo Barros Schelotto it was still a talented eleven looking to pick up the points against Independiente. However, despite this Boca were still second best for large parts of the game and only Independiente’s long standing profligacy issue and a couple of costly refereeing decisions prevented El Rojo being comfortable winners.
Nicolás Domingo and Emmanuel Gigliotti had both missed clear chances during an opening period of dominance and a flying save by Esteban Andrada denied Francisco Silva to keep Boca level. Herrera’s first error may actually have benefitted Independiente when the referee failed to show Gigliotti a second yellow card for a high boot but the first half’s major talking point was the penalty appeal waved away. Herrera was ideally placed to see Silvio Romero step inside Lisandro Magallán before being tripped yet allowed play to continue in the face of protests.
Independiente continued on the front foot after the break but against the run of play it was Boca who took the lead. Edwin Cardona had barely been on the pitch five minutes when the Colombian cut in from the left and rifled a low shot past Martín Campaña with only Boca’s second shot on target.
The goal didn’t change the momentum of the game with Independiente continuing to come forward and when Lisandro Magallán was sent off for a second bookable offence, Boca only dug in further to frustrate their hosts.
Despite packing the defence and looking to counter, Boca appeared to surrender their lead when Maxi Meza headed an equaliser. The midfielder out-jumping Andrada to flick the ball into the net only for Herrera to spot an infringement and chalk out the seemingly valid goal.
Pablo Hernández was next to spurn a glorious opportunity for Independiente and while Boca should have wrapped it up with a wasted three-on-one counter, there was still time for another penalty appeal. Guillermo Burdisso’s shot from the edge of the box took a deflection off the arm of Julio Buffarini only for Darío Herrera to look the other way once more.
Boca remain six points off leaders Racing Club, which is not insurmountable given their focus during the first half of the season has been elsewhere, while for Independiente another damaging defeat probably already leaves El Rojo too far off the pace.
Independiente 0 – 1 Boca Juniors
Boca’s Copa Libertadores rivals, River Plate opted for a much weaker side on Sunday but came up against a second-string Gimnasia, who themselves were preparing for a cup final after eliminating River from the Copa Argentina in midweek.
Victory in the league hardly made amends for the penalty defeat that saw Gimnasia book their place in the final against Rosario Central but it was a useful opportunity for a number of River’s academy products to gain experience.
Rafael Santos Borré, suspended from the Libertadores final and so one of the few regular starters in River’s eleven, slotted the Millonarios in front early and after a fine run by Cristian Ferreira, the Colombian was left with a simple tap-in to make it two.
Matías Gómez headed a goal back for Gimnasia shortly after the break despite the best attempts of Germán Lux to claw the ball back from the over the line but River held on to their advantage and two minutes from time, Matías Moya made it three.
Still with a couple of games in-hand if River were to win those, Marcelo Gallardo’s side would be back in contention.
River Plate 3 – 1 Gimnasia
Earlier in Mar del Plata, Jorge Almirón was minutes away from his first win as San Lorenzo manager only for Cristian Chávez to earn Aldosivi a point in stoppage time.
San Lorenzo have struggled for goals of late and so when Nicolás Reneiro curled a shot against the crossbar early on it looked as though it could be another frustrating afternoon. Even more so five minutes after the break when Lucas Villalba arrived at the back post to smash Aldosivi in front.
However, that wasn’t to be the end for the visitors and soon after 20-year-old defender Gianluca Ferrari headed them level. Not content with a point, San Lorenzo then led as Adolfo Gaich took advantage of some hesitant defending to burst in behind and slot past Luciano Pocrnjic.
But just as it looked as though Los Cuervos would be celebrating only a third win of the campaign, Chávez found some space and his low shot found the bottom corner despite a good hand on it from Nicolás Navarro.