Argentinos Juniors held by Racing, Independiente put five past Central, Cauteruccio fires Estudiantes to victory & Crespo earns point on Defensa y Justicia debut (VIDEO)

Superliga champions Racing Club’s defence was already all but over and La Academia may have put an end to Argentinos Juniors’ title dreams on Saturday night with a draw in La Paternal.

Diego Dabove’s Superliga underdogs are only two points behind leaders River Plate but having missed the chance once more to apply pressure may find themselves five adrift on Sunday evening. With only five games remaining, Los Bichos hopes of a first title since the 2010 Clausura now hang by a thread.

Things started perfectly though at the Estadio Diego Armando Maradona on Saturday as it took the home side less than five minutes to break the deadlock. Gabriel Hauche, the object of Racing’s desire during this window, raced clear down the left, his cutback found Carlos Quintana and although Gabriel Arias kept out the defender’s initial effort, new signing Edwar López was on hand to tap in the rebound.

Racing were bossing possession but failing to carve out any clear opportunities with Sebastián Beccacece frantically patrolling his technical area as ever.

Despite Beccacece’s change in approach, Racing’s equaliser came via a familiar route as a corner from the left was flicked in at the near post by 20-year-old substitute Tiago Banega.

Darío Cvitanich missed a good chance to win it for Racing but neither side could find a winner and La Academia will be more concerned by Lisandro López leaving the field with a calf injury ahead of next week’s clásico de Avellaneda.

Argentinos Juniors  1 – 1  Racing Club

Independiente are certainly in better mood ahead of that derby after a tremendous 5-0 win over Rosario Central at the Estadio Libertadores de América.

New manager Lucas Pusineri was dealt the trickiest of starts with games against River and Boca and after taking a point from those two games, the visit of a Central side looking to go second was clearly the opportunity for victory before the clásico. However, with only flashes of potential in the two games prior, no one could have foreseen the manner in which El Rojo swept aside their visitors.

Alexander Barboza, whose Independiente career to date has been underwhelming to say the least, fired in the opener after two minutes and it set the tone for a dominant 90 minutes of attacking football.

By the time Cecilio Domínguez flicked the ball into the path of Juan Sánchez Miño to cross for Leandro Fernández to head the second just after the half hour mark, Independiente had already created several good chances and were playing with a freedom not seen since the best days of Ariel Holan’s tenure.

Fernández turned provider soon after with his cross from the left finding Braian Romero for a simple tap-in and even the half time interval didn’t slow the momentum.

Captain Silvio Romero was desperate to get on the scoresheet and his deflected effort looped over Jeremías Ledesma, making it four and taking Romero to eleven for the season.

Independiente continued to attack with menace and another swift counter produced the fifth as substitute Andrés Roa cut inside onto his right foot to find the bottom corner.

Sánchez  Miño ensured the clean sheet remained intact with a goal line clearance to deny Marco Ruben late on and while El Rojo won’t be getting carried away the atmosphere ahead of the clásico is far brighter.

Independiente  5 – 0  Rosario Central

Things are looking far rosier in La Plata too as Estudiantes supporters welcomed Marcos Rojo back before kick-off and then defeated Unión, making it just one defeat in ten.

Recent signing Martín Cauteruccio gave El Pincha a deserved first half lead and soon after the break was alert again to pounce on a rebound, this time after Nahuel Estévez’s long range effort had clattered against the crossbar.

Javier Méndez gave Unión a chance with a goal back twelve minutes from time but no sooner had the visitors closed the deficit was Jonathan Bottinelli sent off. Youngster Franco Calderon then conceded a penalty and it allowed Mateo Retegui to seal the victory, pushing Estudiantes up to eighth.

Estudiantes  3 – 1  Unión

Hernán Crespo made his debut as Defensa y Justicia manager and will have been almost as relieved as goalkeeper Ezequiel Unsain that Juan Lucero salvaged a point.

Unsain’s horrendous blooper, which will be replayed over and over, had gifted Atlético an early lead and looked set to hand the home side three points.

Lucero had seen one effort harshly ruled out for offside in the first half but a defensive mix-up seven minutes from time, allowed the 28-year-old to all in a thoroughly deserved equaliser.

Atlético Tucumán  1 – 1  Defensa y Justicia