When River Plate had Paulo Díaz sent off after 13 minutes against Central Córdoba what had been viewed as a routine home victory suddenly became far more problematic. However, like a pack of merciless blood hounds on the scent of a first league title under Marcelo Gallardo, ten-man River still proved too much for their relegation threatened visitors.
Frustration and concern were etched on Marcelo Gallardo’s face when referee Néstor Pitana brandished a red card for Díaz’s petulant hack on Gervasio Núñez. And when Matías Suárez was denied a strong shout. for a penalty soon after, River could have been excused for thinking it wasn’t going to be their afternoon.
After all, all four of River’s defeats this season have come at the Monumental. Far from the stronghold that it has so often been in cup competitions, dropped points against inferior opponents in the league have cost the Millonarios in the past.
Yet there is a difference with River this season and just before the break, Suárez wonderfully set up the now prolific Rafael Santos Borré to tap in his eleventh of the campaign. Gallardo’s jig down the touchline an indication of just how important a goal it was.
After the break, River remained the better side and it was the visitors that looked as if they were down to ten. Suárez came within the width of the woodwork from adding an exquisite second after lobbing Diego Rodríguez but Ignacio Scocco ensured supporters celebrated victory with a golazo regardless.
In stoppage time, Scocco left former Boca midfielder Marcelo Meli on his backside and then skipped around Rodríguez to roll in the second.
Relief. Victory for River and with a three-point lead at the top, Gallardo is five games away from his first league title.
River Plate 2 – 0 Central Córdoba
Old enemies Boca Juniors now appear to be River’s main challengers as victory over Talleres kept Miguel Ángel Russo’s side in contention.
Still missing goalkeeper Esteban Andrada, stand-in Marcos Díaz has answered his critics and following his man of the match display against Independiente last week, the former Huracán number one was again instrumental.
Díaz launched the counter from which Sebastián Villa opened the scoring after 13 minutes and it was another swift boot upfield that created Boca’s second, Villa this time provider for Carlos Tevez to slot past Guido Herrera.
Talleres managed to remain in the game and Diego Valoyes heading a goal back ten minutes from time set up a nervy final few moments for Boca.
Russo’s side however held on and while there is room for improvement the pace of Villa and Eduardo Salvio either side of whichever number nine will give any side problems during the run-in.
Talleres 1 – 2 Boca Juniors
Elsewhere, Lanús climbed to third with victory over bottom of the table Godoy Cruz.
Marcelino Moreno’s drilled shot from 25 yards broke the deadlock on the hour mark and 39-year-old José Sand wrapped it up from the penalty spot.
Fifteen defeats this season for Godoy Cruz drags them into the thick of the relegation picture for next season but that is a far more immediate concern for Colón, who hover just above the drop zone after a damaging defeat to Banfield in Santa Fe.
A game that looked destined to finish goalless was disrupted 13 minutes from time when Reinaldo Lenis’ shot sneaked past Leonardo Burián and with it earned the visitors victory. For all of Colón’s shots they failed to work Mauricio Arboleda a great deal and even a debut to Brian Fernández couldn’t inspire. El Sabalero have to hope that the new strike force finds form and fast.