After a historic second placed finish in the Superliga, Defensa y Justicia have another shot at silverware in the Copa but have work to do in order to reach the quarter finals after a first leg defeat to Gimnasia in La Plata.
In the knowledge that the team and even possibly manager Sebastián Beccacece won’t be around much longer, an eager Halcón are aiming for another shot at glory but the familiar problem of failing to take chances and perhaps some poor officiating cost them against Gimnasia.
Only a wonderful double save from Alexis Martín Arias denied Defensa y Justicia an early opening goal as the Gimnasia keeper stopped Nicolás Fernández’s close range volley and then sprung up to claw the ball away as the forward closed on the rebound.
A bright start for the visitors should have been given a further boost but it was instead Beccacece’s side that were weakened when Lucas Licht went unpunished for a forearm smash that left Julio González bloodied and ultimately unable to continue. How Darío Herrera felt the challenge was only worthy of a yellow card was a subject that the Defensa y Justicia players and staff made very clear.
Gimnasia had posed a threat of their own with the powerful Jan Hurtado twice forcing Ezequiel Unsain into action, the first a stinging drive from 35 yards and the second flicked goalwards at the near post. It was this effort at the end of the first half that produced the corner from which Gimnasia would score and that too was not without controversy. Defensa y Justicia felt a free-kick should have been awarded prior to Hurtado’s effort and while still haranguing referee Herrera, the corner was swung in, and Santiago Silva bundled in unmarked.
Defensa needed a reaction after the break and that never really appeared allowing Gimnasia to hold onto their lead and take a useful advantage to Florencio Varela on Sunday.
Gimnasia 1 – 0 Defensa y Justicia
Unión took a decent step towards the next round with a 2-1 win over Tigre in Victoria.
A bright start from the visitors saw Nicolás Mazzola finish off a swift counter, a move which initiated from Tigre losing possession to a bobble on the uneven turf and two minutes later the lead was doubled. The first owed much to luck but there was nothing fortunate about the quality of Mauro Pittón’s free-kick that whipped into the top corner.
Tigre would pull a goal back through substitute Carlos Luna fifteen minutes from time but almost immediately find themselves down to ten men thanks to Néstor Moiraghi’s recklessly high-boot planting into Diego Zabala’s thigh.
The Superliga season ultimately ended in relegation for Tigre but there was plenty of fight during their terrific run-in and that will need to be evident once more to overturn this defeat when they travel to Santa Fe next Saturday.