As underdogs Defensa y Justicia’s challenge began to falter, Racing Club maintained their unerring form and on Sunday evening La Academia clinched the Superliga title with a 1-1 draw away to relegation threatened Tigre.
As Racing celebrated their 18th league triumph in Victoria and later with jubilant supporters in the centre of Buenos Aires, Defensa y Justicia were left to rue what might have been as a first ever title slipped away. Needing to better Racing’s result to set up a final day showdown between the two clubs, El Halcón were held to a 1-1 draw of their own by Unión and subsequently denied the neutral what would have been a dramatic finale next weekend.
Racing certainly won’t mind and it would be difficult to deny that Eduardo Coudet’s side were anything other than worthy champions – having led the league since the fourth round of the season.
A tricky trip to face a Tigre side battling against relegation and suddenly in terrific form stood between Racing and the title and while La Academia didn’t secure the win that would have rendered Defensa y Justicia’s game meaningless, a draw was enough.
The protagonists in Victoria, Racing saw plenty of the ball and fashioned the clear chances as Tigre sat back and attempted to play on the counter. Darío Cvitanich uncharacteristally missed from yards out and captain Lisandro López drew a fine save from Gonzalo Marinelli but while it also remained goalless in Florencio Varela, Racing were heading for the title.
As Defensa y Justicia’s form in front of goal continued to elude them, Sebastian Beccacece’s side were given something of a break when referee Diego Abal failed to award Unión a penalty for a foul on Franco Troyansky. However, that luck didn’t carry over to Victoria as Racing finally found a way through close to the hour mark.
The league’s most prolific attack have scored some fine goals but none perhaps more fortunate than Augusto Solari’s decisive opener. Néstor Moiraghi’s clearance ballooning off Matías Zaracho, almost lobbing Marinelli only to hit the crossbar and drop for a suspiciously offside Solari to tap in.
The crossbar would come to save Tigre moments later when Lisandro López came within a whisker of sealing it on the counter but falling behind also gave the home side reason to attack as defeat would leave Tigre three points from safety.
When on-loan Racing forward Augusto Lotti gave Unión the lead against Defensa y Justicia the title race looked over yet there was to be further drama in stoppage time.
Tigre were knocking at the door and hit the woodwork while Defensa y Justicia had a goal ruled out for offside but a swing in both games was still needed.
Lucas Rodríguez eventually found the net, the Tigre defender’s free-kick sneaking through the wall to beat Gabriel Arias and seconds later, Matías Rojas equalised for Defensa y Justicia with a set-piece of his own. Only one more goal in either game could have been enough but a breathless finish came to an end and Racing were champions.
Defensa y Justicia pushed as far they could but ultimately had no answer to Racing’s consistency. A dream league title for the experienced figures like Lisandro López and only the beginning for youngsters like Matías Zaracho. Under the guidance of Diego Milito, La Academia will be all too aware of how quickly things can change but the club will also be hoping that this is the start of a new era.