Even at the Clásico Platense, Diego Maradona took centre stage on Saturday afternoon yet the former number ten couldn’t inspire his Gimnasia side to victory and instead Estudiantes snatched victory in El Bosque.
A midweek 4-0 win over Newell’s had given Gimnasia a timely boost ahead of the derby despite still sitting bottom of the relegation table. While Gabriel Milito in the opposite dugout had been talked out of resigning only a couple weeks ago and had now won back-to-back games.
With the stakes high there was little of action to note in the opening 45 minutes other than a flare-up between Lucas Licht and Gastón Fernández, that in turn prompted a fiery exchange between the Estudiantes forward and Maradona as the players left the pitch for the half-time interval.
Gimnasia began the second half brightly, Leandro Contín missing the target with the game’s first clear chance and it proved costly. Soon after Fernández combined with Mateo Retegui and the 20-year-old bent the ball from outside the box into the bottom corner.
That proved enough as Estudiantes kept a fourth consecutive clean sheet to wrap up the points. Maradona was left to hold his hands up apologetically to supporters after yet another home defeat, Gimnasia increasingly cut adrift and running out of time for a miracle.
Gimnasia 0 – 1 Estudiantes
There were no such concerns for River Plate, who followed up their places in the Copa Libertadores final and Copa Argentina semi-final, by moving top of the Superliga.
A 2-1 win over Aldosivi sent Marcelo Gallardo’s side level with Argentinos Juniors and although River may well not be there by the end of the round, the Millonarios are firmly in the title race for a change.
The better side in Mar del Plata, River had to wait until the 34th minute to lead when Matías Suárez squared for Nicolás De La Cruz to tap in.
And when Rafael Santos Borré clipped in a delightful second shortly after half time, River looked to be cruising to three points.
However, Aldosivi scrapping for points in the relegation zone pulled one back, Federico Gino stabbing in at the back post to round off a well worked move and for the final stages, River looked a little uncomfortable.
Ultimately it made little difference and River’s strong end to 2019 has Gallardo competing on three fronts.
Aldosivi 1 – 2 River Plate
Earlier in the Gigante de Arroyito, Rosario Central brought to an end their nine-game winless run in emphatic fashion, thrashing Godoy Cruz 5-2.
In the thick of the relegation battle and in need of points, Central led within minutes when a free-kick swung into the box bounced off Tomás Cardona into his own net. And things got better after quarter of an hour, another set-piece resulting in Emanuel Brítez firing in from close range.
Having come from behind to pick up only a second win of the season during the week, Nahuel Arena swiftly pulled a goal back for Godoy Cruz but more soft defending allowed Ciro Ruis to restore Central’s advantage.
Substitute Tomas Badaloni bundled a second on the hour mark but before the visitors could find an equaliser, Arena was shown a second yellow card.
With a man advantage, Central took back the initiative. Fabián Rinaudo’s deflected shot making it four and Nahuel Molina volleying a fifth three minutes from time. Godoy Cruz remain rooted to the foot of the table and with the win Central are out of the drop zone.
Finally in Santa Fe, Atlético Tucumán took advantage of Pablo Lavallén’s decision to field a second string side ahead of Colón’s Copa Sudamericana final next week.
Goals either side of half time by Augusto Lotti and Leandro Díaz were enough for the points.