Two goals in the final twenty minutes secured victory for Racing Club in their opening Copa Libertadores group game against Estudiantes de Mérida in Venezuela.
A bad week for Argentinian sides had seen none of the other representatives begin the group stage with a win and it looked as though Racing could suffer the same fate when Estudiantes took a shock lead after half time.
A bright enough start in Venezuela by Sebastián Beccacece’s side saw Matías Zaracho waste a couple of good chances but as the home side settled and La Academia lost their way it was in fact Estudiantes who perhaps should have led at the break.
A strong penalty shout for handball against Eugenio Mena had already been waved away when former Boca youngster Alexis Messidoro robbed Mauricio Martínez of the ball only to fluff his lines when one-on-one with Gabriel Arias.
However, Estudiantes didn’t lose momentum by the half time interval and soon after the restart José Rivas bundled in a cross from the left to break the deadlock.
Spurred into action Racing began to come into the ascendency and eventually found an equaliser, a quick throw-in released Nicolás Reniero, the former San Lorenzo forward’s initial shot was saved but after Zaracho poked it goalwards Reniero was alert to nod the ball over the line.
There now only appeared one likely winner with Estudiantes making little inroads at the other end and Racing applying increased pressure. That proved too much for the home side and with eight minutes remaining a defensive lapse allowed David Barbona, Eugenio Mena and finally Zaracho to combine and slot in a winner unmarked.
Not the most convincing of performances but an important win and should Racing follow it up with victory over Alianza Lima in Avellaneda next week, Beccacece’s boy will have a firm grip on Group F.