Last weekend’s results may have denied the Superliga a dramatic decider between Racing Club and runners-up Defensa y Justicia but rather than the blood and guts of an all or nothing playoff, it was a celebration in Avellaneda with La Academia lifting their 18th league title and the visitors acknowledging a historic campaign.
A guard of honour for both teams before kick off and a 15th minute homage to captain Lisandro López from his adoring public at the packed Cilindro set the tone for what was more of a party than a football match at times.
And so it should have been after the achievements of both clubs.
Jonathan Cristaldo, one of the astute signings made under Diego Milito’s watch, drilled in a rebound to give Racing a deserved 53rd minute lead but Matías Rojas’ thumping header earned Defensa y Justicia a point.
A draw, a fitting end to both sides’ campaigns, in which the two only suffered two defeats and were heads and shoulders above the rest of the Superliga competition. Racing and their inspirational captain Lisandro López the worthy champions but as Eduardo Coudet recognised, Defensa y Justicia were more than worthy opponents and brought the best from him and his team.
Racing Club 1 – 1 Defensa y Justicia
Earlier in Parque Patricios, Huracán ended their woeful run of form to secure three points against Atlético Tucumán and ultimately nick the most undeserving of Copa Sudamericana spots.
Without a win in eight and with their Copa Libertadores campaign already looking precarious, Antonio Mohamed’s position was less than secure. Free-falling down the table, continental qualification looked unlikely and even after Andrés Chávez and Lucas Barrios secured second half goals to give El Globo a deserved that seemed the case.
However, Talleres failing to win and Tigre leaping above Huracán but also getting relegated meant tenth was enough for Mohamed’s side.
Huracán 2 – 0 Atlético Tucumán
Independiente later made sure of their place with a come-from-behind win over Rosario Central in the Gigante de Arroyito.
A contentious penalty saw Néstor Ortigoza give Central the lead from the spot but former Newell’s midfielder Pablo Pérez, who had earlier rattled the woodwork, latched on to Cecilio Domínguez’s cross to calmly round Jeremías Ledesma to equalise.
El Rojo were level for five minutes and on the stroke of half time led, Martín Benítez finishing off a counter with a close range bicycle kick to turn things around.
A deserved win away from home to close out what has been a disappointing campaign for Independiente at least showed some signs of promise and Ariel Holan’s side will now give everything to challenge for the Copa de la Superliga.