The title race might have been over already but a dramatic final day saw four sides battling it out for survival as Patronato’s victory over Argentinos Juniors inflicted a painful relegation on Tigre, Belgrano and San Martín de San Juan despite all three securing wins.
Ahead of the final round of fixtures only San Martín de Tucuman were certain of playing Nacional B football next season and so four sides were fighting over one remaining place in the Superliga. Patronato held the advantage knowing that victory over Argentinos Juniors in Paraná would render all other results meaningless and thanks to Gabriel Carabajal’s first half brace they did just that.
A sensation curling effort followed up by a backpost header inside the opening half an hour settled nerves in Paraná and sent a shockwave to the three other grounds around Argentina praying for dropping points.
Gabriel Hauche rifling one back for Argentinos Juniors just before the break may have answered those prayers but more was needed.
Patronato 2 – 1 Argentinos Juniors
In San Juan, San Martín were doing their part as unlikely goalscorer Marcos Gelabert scored twice to give Rubén Forestello’s side a healthy lead over Talleres and in the Monumental, Tigre were demonstrating why the promedios is such a flawed system, giving an admittedly understrength River Plate hell.
Despite falling behind early to Robert Rojas’ close range header, Tigre continued to trade blow-for-blow with River and after Lucas Janson had already seen one shot rattle the crossbar the forward sent a looping header over Germán Lux to equalise.
Belgrano had yet been able to find a way past Godoy Cruz in Córdoba but as it was all three were simply waiting to hear something positive from Paraná.
River Plate 2 – 3 Tigre
Time ticked on and still Argentinos Juniors couldn’t find an equaliser as Patronato hung on to their slender lead.
Tigre meanwhile set up an enthralling finale in the Monumental. Diego Morales curled the visitors ahead with less than ten minutes to go, Diego Maradona’s great nephew Hernán López came off the bench to score a debut equaliser for River only for Juan Ignacion Cavallaro to restore the lead.
Mauricio Cuero slotted Belgrano in front against Godoy Cruz and even though Junior Arias pulled one back for Talleres, San Martín were holding on for the three points they hoped might be enough.
Belgrano 1 – 0 Godoy Cruz
Victory for Tigre secured a top-nine finish and a place in the Copa Sudamericana only for the devastating news to come through that Patronato had won.
For San Martin and Belgrano, their wins had come too late and the league table demonstrated that but for Tigre, their admirable efforts this season just weren’t quite enough to turn things around. Relegation to the Nacional B means that El Matador can’t take their place in the Copa Sudamericana but could perversely still book a Libertadores spot through the Copa.
Patronato did just enough and after veteran goalkeeper Sebastián Bértoli announced his retirement after helping the side stay in the league, El Patrón will need a new hero to stave off relegation next year.