As Arsenal’s players and staff raged at full-time there was hardly a positive atmosphere coming from Independiente either as Leandro Fernández’s stoppage time equaliser did little to lift the tension at the Estadio Libertadores de América.
Independiente supporters were pushed to the limit by last week’s clásico defeat and with Alan Franco potentially the latest to head out the door the lack of any incomings has left the squad to be propped up by academy players.
The latest to take advantage were an Arsenal side making a surprise challenge for CONMEBOL cup competition qualification and Sergio Rondina’s side were about 30 seconds away from securing an important win.
A well worked set-piece that resulted in Gastón Álvarez Suárez smashing Arsenal in front after quarter of an hour looked to be enough.
The home team had toiled all evening in the rain to create clear chances and referee Nazareno Arasa awarding a soft free-kick deep in injury time was a final roll of the dice for Independiente. Substitute Leandro Fernández stepped up and bent a wonderful strike past Daniel Sappa only for his celebrations to earn him a second yellow card.
That didn’t matter but Arsenal were furious at the officials and when the full-time whistle blew seconds later, Sergio Rondina led the charge toward Arasa.
Independiente 1 – 1 Arsenal
Earlier in La Plata, Defensa y Justicia pulled off a surprise win over Estudiantes to give manager Hernán Crespo his first win since taking charge of the Halcón.
A bright start from the home team saw Marcos Rojo go close before Gastón Fernández’s ill-judged panenka saw a 19th-minute penalty wasted.
That was almost immediately punished, Francisco Pizzini slipping his first goal for Defensa y Justicia through the legs of Mariano Andújar.
The goal boosted the visitors’ confidence and just after the hour mark Rubén Botta curled in a second as Crespo’s side looked to end any hope of an Estudiantes comeback.
Mateo Retegui managed to pull one back late on but it was only a consolation for Estudiantes, who suffered their first defeat in six matches.