A chaotic evening in Avellaneda saw Independiente secure a vital win over Talleres but not without its fair share of late drama.
For 75 minutes it was the best performance Independiente have produced under manager Sebastián Beccacece and El Rojo were cruising to a comfortable win over a Talleres side that could have gone top with victory in Avellaneda.
With Pablo Pérez restored to the starting eleven, Independiente were much the better side and led after 34 minutes. The high-press won back possession on the edge of the Talleres penalty area and Pérez pulled the ball back for Cecilio Domínguez, another of those brought back into the team, to slot past Guido Herrera.
Despite suffering the blow of seeing Silvio Romero limp off, things got even better for the home side before the break. The usually reliable Herrera wandered from the Talleres goal in an attempt to cut out a long ball and having failed to get anywhere near, Juan Sánchez Miño was left with the simple task of rolling it into an empty net.
There was little change after the break except for one moment of panic that with hindsight was perhaps a sign of things to come where Nicolas Figal was forced to clear off the Independiente goal-line. Otherwise El Rojo remained on top and should have killed off the game when Domingo Blanco hit the crossbar from three yards out.
Pablo Pérez was withdrawn to a standing ovation and the feeling around the Estadio Libertadores de América was that the job was done. How wrong they were.
Switched off at a Talleres corner, Nahuel Tenaglia headed a goal back unmarked and suddenly Independiente were at sixes and sevens. The impressive Lucas Romero, who had controlled the midfield, was now struggling around the pitch with cramp setting in and it was no real surprise when Leonardo Godoy nodded in an 86th minute equaliser.
With the carrot of going top of the table, Talleres looked the more likely winners but it was instead El Rojo that found a second wind. The visitors failed to clear a corner and when Sebastián Palacios delivered a second cross into the box, Figal was left onside to power a header into the bottom corner.
There was still time for Lautaro Guzmán to be sent off late on pulling back Blanco when through on goal and it sparked handbags at full time and while it had been needlessly fraught, Independiente had secured victory.
Independiente 3 – 2 Talleres
Rivals Racing Club required a fair amount of good fortune of their own to escape the Gigante de Arroyito with a point after being outplayed by Rosario Central for large parts.
A wonderful Lucas Gamba goal gave Central the lead after 13 minutes but Racing were swiftly level in fortuitous circumstance, Lisandro López’s cross floating over the head of goalkeeper Jeremías Ledesma and inside the far-post.
Central remained on the front foot and aside from a Matías Rojas free-kick almost catching out Ledesma again and hitting the crossbar, the home side dominated the chances.
Gabriel Arias was kept busy in the Racing goal, Matías Caruzzo headed against the woodwork and Diego Zabala also struck the post from close range with the goal gaping late on.
The point failed to really help either side with Racing falling further off the pace of the title challengers and Central maintaining their unbeaten record but clocking up a sixth consecutive draw keeping them in relegation danger.
One of those sides Racing lost ground to is San Lorenzo after Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side bounced back from two defeats to see off Banfield and climb back into second.
A stunning volley from Bruno Pittón, the full-back’s fourth goal since joining, set San Lorenzo on their way very early and it proved enough even after Gerónimo Poblete was sent off before the break.
Banfield had their chances with Junior Arias clipping just wide during the first half and increased pressure coming against ten men after half time but they couldn’t find a way past Nicolás Navarro.
San Lorenzo are two points off Boca at the top while Banfield can ill-afford to waste chances given their position precariously above the relegation zone.
Rosario Central 1 – 1 Racing Club
Banfield 0 – 1 San Lorenzo
Vélez Sarfield missed their chance to join San Lorenzo after slipping to a 1-0 defeat against Defensa y Justicia in Liniers.
Quite how Gabriel Heinze’s side didn’t get something is down to the performance of goalkeeper Ezequiel Unsain and some extremely wasteful finishing, Maxi Romero being the main offender.
Unsain saved two point-blank efforts from Romero during the first half when the young centre-forward should have scored and after seeing such opportunities go begging it was inevitable that Defensa y Justicia would punish.
Vélez failed to clear a cross from the right and the ball was eventually worked into the path of Fernando Márquez who beat Lucas Hoyos.
With the home side looking for an equaliser there was time for Romero to miss the easiest chance of all, on this occasion from a few yards out not even needing the intervention of Unsain but failing to hit the target.
Two points dropped for Vélez and an excellent win on the road for Defensa y Justicia.
Huracán will be wondering the same after being held to a goalless draw by Atlético Tucuman. A host of clear chances missed, a marginal offside decision ruling out a Juan Garro header and Rodrigo Gómez hitting the post from a free-kick left El Globo feeling a little deflated.
Vélez Sarsfield 0 – 1 Defensa y Justicia
Huracán 0 – 0 Atlético Tucuman