There is nothing ordinary about the life of Diego Maradona but after thousands of Newell’s Old Boys supporters surrounded the Gimnasia hotel to pay tribute to the man who played five games for their club in the 1993 Apertura and then proceeded to give him a throne from which to watch the game, the most surprising thing was that Maradona’s Gimnasia beat Newell’s 4-0.
Bottom of the table Gimnasia and almost dead-certs for relegation had only scored four league goals prior to Monday night while Newell’s had scored in every game and with a win could go one point off the top of the table. Despite the welcoming atmosphere, the result was beyond doubt, right?
Wrong. Newell’s produced their worst performance of the campaign and were punished by a Gimnasia side who appeared energised by the reception given to their legendary, if somewhat comatose coach in the armchair.
Leandro Contín’s heavily deflected shot from distance gave Gimnasia their breakthrough just before half time and just after the break Maximiliano Caire burst through the static Newell’s defence to double the lead.
There was no response from Newell’s, who have been so impressive under Frank Kudelka this season, and instead the home side found themselves further behind. Contín drew a save from Alan Aguerre and Horacio Tijanovich nodded in a simple third to an unguarded net.
For such a goal-shy side previously Gimnasia looked likely to add more and did so when Matías García managed to bend the ball in direct from a corner.
Gimnasia remain rooted to the foot of the relegation table, still some way from safety but will be praying that this is a turning point ahead of the weekend’s clásico; Newell’s hoping this was just a blip.
Newell’s Old Boys 0 – 4 Gimnasia
Later at the Monumental, the Copa Libertadores finalists met the Copa Sudamericana finalists and River Plate took all three points to join Boca Juniors and Argentinos Juniors at the top of the table for at least 24 hours anyway.
Cólon, without the injured Luis Rodríguez, offered very little as an attacking threat and aside from a penalty claim for a collision between Milton Casco and Wilson Morelo failed to create many opportunities. What Pablo Lavallén’s side did manage to do was frustrate River and despite the hosts dominating large parts the closest they came to a first half lead was Matías Suárez clipping the ball just wide.
That changed soon after the break when Suárez crossed from the left and Nicolás De La Cruz arrived at the back post to drill a half volley beautifully past Leonardo Burián.
Marcelo Gallardo introduced Juan Fernando Quintero as the Colombian steps up his comeback from injury and the playmaker swiftly created the second. Quintero’s stinging long range shot was saved by Burián but Rafael Santos Borré was alive to the rebound and his effort was palmed into the net by the goalkeeper.
Whether Santos Borré or Burián are credited with the goal is up for debate but Colón’s consolation went down firmly as an own goal, Gabriel Esparza’s cross deflecting off Lucas Martínez Quarta and wrong footing Franco Armani.
It didn’t matter and while debate raged over Colón’s penalty claim, River were deserved winners. Any one of five teams to play on either Tuesday or Wednesday could overtake River at the top but regardless, this season Gallardo has his side in the Copa Libertadores final and the Superliga title race.
River Plate 2 – 1 Colón
The only side with worse record than Gimnasia coming in to round eleven was Godoy Cruz but welcoming Santiago García back into the side after injury, El Tomba came from behind to beat Aldosivi in Mendoza.
It took the Uruguayan less than ten minutes to mark his return with a goal but Godoy Cruz’s defensive fragility was laid bare once again with Aldosivi quickly turning things round. First, Emanuel Iñiguez drilled a low shot past Roberto Ramírez and then Gonzalo Verón volleyed in when a corner bobbled into space.
Having lost all but one of their league games Godoy Cruz looked to be heading for defeat number ten until the 71st minute when Kevin Gutiérrez squared for substitute Tomas Badaloni to equalise.
And soon after García grabbed his second, controlling Badaloni’s nod-down to volley past Luciano Pocrnjic.
In La Plata, Gabriel Milito was able to breathe another sigh of relief as Estudiantes followed up their win last week with victory over Rosario Central.
Draw merchants Central only suffered their first defeat of the season last time out but were behind midway through the first half when Edwar López curled in from the edge of the box.
Estudiantes extended their lead shortly after the break, Argentina under-20 international Facundo Mura finding the bottom corner from 25 yards and after Mariano Andújar preserved the lead with a wonderful save, Inter Miami-bound Matías Pellegrini wrapped up the points on the counter.
And Patronato remain level with Central in the final relegation spot after they suffered defeat away to Atlético Tucumán.
A wonderful Fabián Monzón free-kick gave Atlético the lead but the home side needed the frame of the goal to save them twice from Patronato drawing level before Leandro Díaz sealed the win late on.