In the annals of clásico de Avellaneda history, Sunday’s meeting will live long in the memory for Racing Club supporters – the day that nine men snatched victory over rivals Independiente. It may not have been the prettiest game of football but there was no shortage of drama and Marcelo Díaz rolling in an 86th minute winner prompted the Cilindro to erupt.
La Academia had been much the better side during a first half in which until the 40th minute, it remained eleven versus eleven. Walter Montoya had rattled the crossbar and Independiente had offered very little in response. On one of El Rojo’s rare forays forward five minutes before the break, Cecilio Domínguez got in behind and when goalkeeper Gabriel Arias halted his progress with a hand outside the penalty area, referee Patricio Loustau had no option but to send the Chilean international off.
If Independiente had sensed an opportunity after the break they could scarcely believe their luck when literally seconds after kick-off Racing were reduced to nine. The first action of the half saw a long ball hoisted into the Racing half and as Leonardo Sigali contested with Leandro Fernández, the Racing defender’s forearm collided with the Independiente forward’s head. Without hesitation Loustau reached to his pocket for another red and the Cilindro was stunned.
Substitute goalkeeper Javier Garcia made two superb saves to deny Alan Franco at a corner and Fernández when slipped in behind but in truth Independiente, one week on from putting five past Rosario Central, lacked any idea of how to break down a determined opponent.
And instead four minutes from time it was Racing that snatched it. The ball broke for Darío Cvitanich perhaps with the help of an arm that Racing will certainly feel was their overdue share of good fortune and after being rolled into the path of Marcelo Díaz, the Chilean midfielder stroked it into the bottom corner.
Then all the fun of an Argentinian clásico came to the fore. Racing’s players bloodied and bruised, Garcia telling the ballboys to lose the balls and Independiente losing their minds and ending the game with two red cards of their own, Domínguez the first and then Lucas Romero being tempted into a second yellow by the wily Cvitanich.
Racing are still in contention for a Copa Libertadores spot and a result like this could really kick start Sebastián Beccacece’s time in charge but the manner of the clásico win means much more than that.
Racing Club 1 – 0 Independiente
Racing won’t be defending their Superliga title and it looks increasingly like a two-horse race after River Plate came from behind to beat Unión and restore a three-point lead over Boca Juniors.
Santa Fe hasn’t been the easiest hunting ground for River in recent years and it proved almost equally tricky on Sunday night.
When former Boca striker Walter Bou headed Unión in front just after half time, River’s title rivals sat up. Could this be the upset they so desperately needed?
No. Within minutes Ignacio Fernández had nodded River level and soon after that Juan Fernando Quintero’s corner caused panic in the Unión six-yard box allowing Robert Rojas to bundle in a second.
Franco Troyansky’s shot off the crossbar late on ensured a nervy ending but River held on and are now four games away from the title.
Unión 1 – 2 River Plate
Vélez Sarsfield’s hopes are well and truly over after another blank in front of goal ended in defeat to ten-man San Lorenzo.
A sweeping counter saw youngster Julián Palacios give San Lorenzo the lead just before the half hour mark but that momentum was lost before the break when Fabricio Coloccini was sent off for a challenge on Agustín Bouzat.
Gabriel Heinze introduced Thiago Almada and Ricardo Centurión in his effort to turn things round but Vélez could still not find a way past Sebastián Torrico.
A minute from time Lautaro Gianetti was harshly red carded to level it up and San Lorenzo claimed an important win to join Vélez on 30 points.