“We didn’t play well and won despite being outplayed,” was the honest assessment of Sebastián Beccacece as the Independiente manager edged out former club Defensa y Justicia in the Copa Argentina.
After an unconvincing 1-0 win over Atlético Tucumán last weekend, Independiente repeated the trick in Quilmes with a poor performance that produced just enough to see off Defensa y Justicia and set up a quarter-final tie with Lanús.
The cup is Independiente’s only remaining route into the 2020 Copa Libertadores having been eliminated from the Copa Sudamericana by Independiente del Valle and it is this that has in part put so much pressure on Beccacece.
Despite only being in charge for 12 games the Independiente manager is walking a tightrope. His team are yet to find an identity and although two wins in this vital week have averted a complete meltdown, many are still critical of Independiente’s performances.
Those critics won’t have been subdued by Thursday evening and Beccacece admitted as much but crucially Independiente are in the next round.
A scrappy goal on the stroke of half time was enough as Gastón Silva got the faintest of touches on Domingo Blanco’s free-kick and flicked the ball past Ezequiel Unsain.
Independiente were on the back foot throughout with Martín Campaña forced to make a number of saves to keep Defensa y Justicia out. One through his own making after a poor first half clearance fell straight to Nicolás Fernández and another immediately after half time when smothering Alexis Castro.
Even after Defensa y Justicia had Nicolás Fernández sent off in the 76th minute they remained the better side but just as they did in Tucumán at the weekend, Independiente held on.