Neither of the Buenos Aires giants River Plate and Boca Juniors managed a victory on the opening weekend of the Superliga but with Copa Libertadores progression secured during the week both made relatively easy work of opponents on Sunday.
River Plate put three past a beleaguered Lanús, who for a rare occasion since Luis Zubeldia returned to take charge looked every bit a relegation candidate and were fortunate not to lose by more, while Boca Juniors raced into a two-goal lead against Patronato and then kicked back.
Were it not for on loan Boca goalkeeper Agustín Rossi, River could have had a hatful against Lanús but instead had to make do with three.
Ezequiel Muñoz’s careless trip on Rafael Santos Borré allowed the Colombian to open the scoring from the penalty spot after 23 minutes and when River sliced through the visitors with ease to have Matías Suárez double the lead soon after the game already looked over.
Ganar, gustar, golear! As the River saying goes. And while Los Millonarios were winning and enjoying themselves, only a string of saves by Rossi and a failed panenka attempt by Nicolás De La Cruz from a second penalty prevented River from administering a real thrashing.
Suárez flicked in a third from a stoppage time corner but the result had been beyond doubt for a long time and with it River were perhaps suggesting that this year perhaps Gallardo could balance the Libertadores obsession with a league challenge.
That is of course the challenge facing Boca Juniors too, who are desperate to get their hands on the Libertadores trophy after the humiliation of last year. The Superliga is secondary but Gustavo Alfaro has the squad to compete and even with a host of changes his side were too strong for another of the Superliga’s endangered sides.
Patronato needed to make life difficult for Boca in Paraná but found themselves two-down inside quarter of an hour and already staring down the barrel of a defeat that leaves Mario Sciacqua’s side bogged down in the relegation zone.
Frank Fabra served up a reminder of why the Colombian was one of the best full-backs in Argentina prior to his serious knee injury with both assists. The first releasing Eduardo Salvio to finish past Matías Ibáñez with a diving header at the second attempt and the second spotting Carlos Tevez unmarked at the back post to slot in.
From that point Boca cruised and with the win joined rivals River on four points after two rounds. A break next weekend for elections allow both to rest but with the Superclásico just around the corner, things are warming up nicely.
River Plate 3 – 0 Lanús
Patronato 0 – 2 Boca Juniors
One of the sides that both River and Boca surprisingly trail even at this very early stage is San Lorenzo after Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side snatched victory in La Plata.
Unlike their fellow grandes, San Lorenzo crashed out of the Libertadores last Wednesday following a limp second half display against Cerro Porteño and while scarcely improved against Gimnasia, Los Cuervos held on for a second consecutive league win.
A splendid point-blank stop by Nicolás Navarro to deny Claudio Spinelli was just one of the San Lorenzo goalkeeper’s key contributions and it meant that one weak defensive header at the other end by Leonardo Morales allowed Bruno Pittón to smash in the game’s only goal twelve minutes from time.
Unión followed up their battling point away to Racing last week with a win over Defensa y Justicia. Recent signing Walter Bou angling a shot inside the far post to open the scoring and Yeimar Gómez scrambling an ugly winner either side of Fernando Márquez’s header for the visitors.
And Banfield secured the win that coach Hernan Crespo so badly needed. Only one previous Superliga victory since being appointed, the former Argentina striker had done a number of positive things with the club but didn’t have points to show for it and while one win won’t change that, Sunday was important.
Former Argentina teammate Gabi Milito and his Estudiantes side were the visitors and when Jesús Dátolo saw a 38th minute penalty saved, Crespo must have thought it was going to be another of those days for his side.
However, Estudiantes goalkeeper Mariano Andújar who had saved the spotkick conceded another before the break and at the second time of asking Nicolás Bertolo gave Banfield the lead.
That proved enough and before a week off from Superliga action Crespo and his players will have been given a boost.