For 864 Superliga minutes, 1,128 in all competitions, Boca Juniors goalkeeper Esteban Andrada hadn’t conceded a goal. That was until Cristian Insaurralde came off the bench for Newell’s Old Boys at La Bombonera and with his first touch headed La Lepra level. A first goal of the season conceded and a share of the points sees Boca remain top of the table for now but Newell’s impressive start keeps them in contention.
With the Superclásico Copa Libertadores semi-final first leg on Tuesday Boca could have done without facing one of the Superliga’s form sides but such is the strength of Gustavo Alfaro’s squad that Newell’s were still facing a side packed full of quality.
That threat was evident in the opening stages and while Esteban Andrada had to be alert to keep out one skidding long range effort it was Boca who led on the half hour mark. Mauro Zárate’s corner to the back-post found Carlos Izqueirdoz and the defender’s towering header beat Alan Aguerre.
Newell’s had struggled to create any clear chances but on the stroke of half time, Maxi Rodríguez miscued an attempted chip over Andrada when a counter had caught Boca short at the back.
Boca looked the more likely next scorers and given their impenetrable defence, Newell’s appeared to be heading for a second defeat of the season. Yet ten minutes from time a smart move down the right saw Julián Fernández cross and super-sub Insaurralde head past Andrada.
There was still time for Newell’s manager Frank Kudelka to be shown a red card and a final moment of controversy when Jan Hurtado was adjudged to have fouled Aguerre before bundling the ball in the net. The whistle had clearly gone even before the Venezuelan had finished but replays didn’t appear to show much wrong-doing.
It was just enough for a point but Newell’s continue to impress this term and look far from the relegation-threatened side that they were only a few months ago. Boca may feel that they should have chalked up another win though there is no time to dwell on that with the biggest game of the year only days away.
Boca Juniors 1 – 1 Newell’s Old Boys
River Plate warmed up for the Superclásico with victory over Diego Maradona’s Gimnasia.
Despite resting almost his entire starting eleven ahead of Tuesday, Marcelo Gallardo’s side were able to grind out a 2-0 win thanks to goals from Jorge Carrascal and Ignacio Scocco in either half.
Three defeats from three for Maradona who is quickly realising that keeping Gimnasia in the Superliga might just be an impossible task. The defensive frailty was evident after 20 minutes when Carrascal ran in behind to rifle River in front and the wastefulness at the other end is a recipe for failure. Horacio Tijanovich spurned a glorious opportunity when opting to try and round goalkeeper Enrique Bologna and Manuel Guanini forced the River reserve goalkeeper into a fine save but there is a toothlessness to the Gimnasia attack which makes victory all the more difficult.
Unable to find an equaliser the game slipped well and truly away from Gimnasia in the 73rd minute as the ball fortuitously bobbled into the path of Scocco who emphatically finished past Martín Arias.
River could ultimately have won more comfortably in the closing stages but it was a perfect afternoon for Gallardo. The polar opposite to Maradona and his Gimnasia side that could be 14 points adrift from safety but the end of Sunday.
Gimnasia 0 – 2 River Plate
Saturday’s other game saw Arsenal bounce back to winning ways with a comfortable 3-0 win over struggling Estudiantes.
A nightmare opening 45 minutes for Estudiantes defender Jonatan Schunke saw the 32-year-old defender at the centre of the action. An inadvertent handball blocked Juan Kaprof’s effort allowing Gastón Álvarez Suárez to open the scoring from the penalty spot and an outstretched boot diverted Fernando Torrent’s low cross into his own net.
Trailing two-nil at the break, the game was put out of reach shortly after the hour mark when Juan Kaprof bundled in Arsenal’s third and while Arsenal are riding high in third, Gabriel Milito comes under increasing pressure at Estudiantes – five defeats from seven is a worrying run of form for El Pincha.