Zárate unable to make impact as Boca hold Vélez & Gimnasia earn draw against Argentinos Juniors (VIDEO)

The build-up to Boca Juniors’ quarter final clash with Vélez was dominated by Mauro Zárate’s return to the Estadio José Amalfitani following his controversial move across Buenos Aires last year. And while the former Vélez favourite was in for some choice words from the stands, Zárate was unable to make much of an impression on the pitch.

Instead Boca were grateful to leave Liniers with a draw after holding Vélez to a stalemate that leaves Gustavo Alfaro’s side slight favourites to progress when the two sides meet again on Thursday at La Bombonera.

During a first half more eventful for the abuse directed at Zárate than anything else, only a heavy Matías Vargas touch that wasted a promising counter and a hopeful penalty claim for handball against Emmanuel Mas stood out as neither side carved out a clear opportunity.

Vélez continued to look the more likely first scorers after the break and Leandro Fernández glanced a header onto the top of the crossbar before Esteban Andrada was forced into a good stop to deny substitute Pablo Galdames.

Youngster Alvaro Barreal was the next to sting Andrada’s palms and while the first half penalty appeal against Mas was optimistic, the Boca’s defender’s inadvertent trip on Fernández late on looked a little more debatable. With Ramón Ábila taken off injured, Boca were posing even less of a threat and were yet to register a shot on goal but Vélez couldn’t find a breakthrough.

Nicolás Domínguez bent a curling shot against the crossbar with Andrada beaten but Boca held on and will now fancy their chances of a semi final spot at La Bombonera on Thursday.

Vélez Sarsfield  0 – 0  Boca Juniors

A little earlier in La Paternal, two of the more surprising Copa Superliga quarter finalists clashed but there was little between Argentinos Juniors and Gimnasia.

After a Matías Romero shot from the edge of the box and forced Alexis Martín Arias into a smart stop early on it was Gimnasia that began to assert some authority. Santiago Silva’s superb through ball found Horacio Tijanovich and the 23-year-old’s first time finish was desperately unlucky to hit the inside of the post and bounce across goal.

Silva would go close himself with a spectacular long range volley and before the break Gimnasia were given a huge boost by referee Néstor Pitana showing Argentinos defender Carlos Quintana a second yellow card for handball when the ball appeared to hit 31-year-old’s chest.

Despite being down to ten men, Argentinos improved after the break and a goalline clearance by Lucas Licht denied Elías Gómez an opener as the game gradually fizzled out.

Gimnasia would end the game with ten men too when Facundo Oreja was shown his second yellow card and it leaves the tie in the balance ahead of Thursday’s meeting in La Plata.

Argentinos Juniors  0 – 0  Gimnasia

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