Defensa y Justicia may no longer be in the position to challenge for honours with the departure of Sebastián Beccacece and most of the starting eleven that finished as Superliga runners-up last season but that didn’t prevent El Halcón booking a place in the Copa Argentina last 16.
Substantially weakened since pushing Racing Club in the title race, it was one of Defensa y Justicia’s new signings, Marcelo Herrera who headed Mariano Soso’s side ahead on the stroke of half time against Gimnasia.
However, a rash lunge on Matías García shortly after the break saw the goalscorer sent off and ten minutes later Maximiliano Comba skipped away on the counter to fire the equaliser past Ezequiel Unsain.
Neither could find a winner and while Unsain could do nothing to stop Comba’s leveller, the Defensa y Justicia goalkeeper proved to be the hero in the penalty shootout. As his teammates successfully converted all four taken from the spot, Unsain saved from Horacio Tijanovich and then from Víctor Ayala to seal the win and set up a last 16 tie with either Independiente or Patronato.
Gimnasia 1 – 1 Defensa y Justicia
3-4 on penalties
Lanús joined Defensa y Justicia in the next round but were made to work hard by B Nacional side Independiente Rivadavia in Sarandí.
The Mendocinos were seconds away from forcing another shootout when Marcelino Moreno stabbed in a stoppage time corner to give El Granate victory. Lanús await the winners of San Martín de Tucumán’s clash with Argentinos Juniors.
While Estudiantes will play either their Buenos Aires-based namesakes or Barracas Central after Gabriel Milito’s side defeated Club Atlético Mitre in Neuquén.
Matías Pellegrini, the 19-year-old tipped to join new MLS club Inter Miami in January, slid in the opening goal after 21 minutes and recent signing Federico González tapped in a second during the second half to make certain of the win.