There was much debate of who would be Argentina’s number nine when Fernando Batista selected Maxi Romero, Facundo Colidio and Adolfo Gaich for his under-20 squad but while two of those have already made moves to Europe it has been San Lorenzo’s Gaich that has claimed the spot. The powerful 19-year-old struck a sensational second half hat-trick to help La Albiceleste to a 3-0 win over Venezuela and with it put Argentina in serious title contention with two games remaining.
Venezuela have been one of the better sides in Chile and posed a serious threat to an Argentina side that has struggled for fluency and goals but the defence marshalled by Nehuén Pérez shackled the physical Jan Hurtado in a way that no other side had previously managed and it was instead the number nine at the other end who did the damage.
That isn’t to say that Gaich was the only Argentina player to impress. Pedro de la Vega, who rattled the crossbar with an early curling effort, was superb, while Gonzalo Maroni and Newell’s midfielder Aníbal Moreno shone once more.
After a tight, goalless first half, Gaich fired Argentina ahead with a low shot past Carlos Olses and soon after steered a header into the far corner from De La Vega’s right wing cross.
Argentina were cruising and eight minutes from time, Moreno thread a pass in behind the Venezuelan defence for Gaich to run on to and slot in for his hat-trick.
Uruguay’s earlier win over Brazil leaves the holders top but Argentina in second only a point behind will know that a win over their rivals from the other side of the Rio de la Plata on Thursday will edge Batista’s side closer to the title. Argentina face Uruguay before a final day showdown against Brazil on Sunday.