The Superclásico looming on Tuesday and a place in the Copa Libertadores up for grabs both River Plate and Boca Juniors opted to rest their first choice elevens for Friday evening’s Superliga fixtures and Arsenal and Racing Club were able to take advantage.
River were hoping to close the gap on leaders Boca even with a weakened side in Sarandí but a dreadful opening 45 minutes saw Marcelo Gallardo’s side two-down. Ezequiel Piovi volleyed in from the edge of the penalty area after nine minutes and when Lucas Martínez Quarta miscalculated an offside trap, former River striker Juan Kaprof ran clear to round Enrique Bologna and roll in a second.
The apparent inability to balance continental competition with the league has left Gallardo without that particular title at River and for all El Muñeco’s success it looked as though history was repeating itself.
A likely heated dressing room with Gallardo saw River improved after the break and before the hour mark Lucas Pratto combined with Nacho Scocco for the latter to volley past Maximiliano Gagliardo.
The comeback looked likely but no sooner had River pulled one back, Arsenal restored their advantage, Nicolás Giménez rifling in.
Gallardo threw on Juan Fernando Quintero and the Colombian’s inswinging corner almost immediately after led to Scocco tapping in his second at the back post.
Matías Suárez and Exequiel Palacios were introduced as River attempted to snatch the points and once again the substitutes made an impact, Suárez’s cut-back turned into his own net by Fernando Torrent four minutes from time.
River couldn’t find a winner and in the circumstance it was perhaps a point gained but with the Copa Libertadores on the mind it was another example of River failing to find victory in the league.
Arsenal 3 – 3 River Plate
Boca were also understandably distracted but couldn’t muster a draw against Racing Club and instead tasted defeat for the first time this season.
Just like River it was largely a second-string eleven for Boca and devoid of any creativity, Gustavo Alfaro’s side were unable to open up a resurgent Racing. Aside from a few set-pieces and a Mauro Zárate free-kick that whistled over the crossbar, Boca failed to work Gabriel Arias and will be praying back at La Bombonera on Tuesday that the regular starters can make more of a dent in River’s backline.
Boca’s defence was breached for the second time this season midway through the first half when Jonathan Cristaldo crossed for Matías Zaracho to volley past Esteban Andrada from close range and that proved to be enough.
The rare sight of Boca and River playing on a Friday evening didn’t reveal much but with victory champions Racing are back in the title race, two points behind Boca and with Argentinos Juniors able to go joint top with a win over Independiente on Saturday.