The last round of matches in the initial group stage of the Copa Diego Maradona didn’t exactly bring with it a whole lot of drama but Atlético Tucumán and River Plate moved into the next phase as comfortable group winners.
Atlético, the only side with a 100% record intact, went into a two-goal lead midway through the first half away to Unión thanks to Augusto Lotti. Franco Troyansky pulled one back for the hosts before the hosts, who still needed something from the game to guarantee second and a place in the Fase Campeonato along with Atlético.
The goals didn’t stop after half time. Lucas Melano slid the visitors further in front only for Troyansky to once more pull Unión within touching distance but Kevin Isa rifled in a fourth for El Decano.
And in the 93rd minute the home side reduced the deficit for the third time through Juan Manuel García yet even deep in stoppage time there was time left for Guillermo Acosta to score a fifth for Atlético.
That score in Tucumán meant a win for Arsenal over Racing Club would be enough to sneak second on goal difference for Sergio Rondina’s side.
And with Racing clearly focused on the Copa Libertadores that is exactly what they did. Youngster Juan Cáceres’ trip allowed Alan Ruíz to score from the penalty spot just before the break and it proved enough.
The visitors saw Lucas Orban sent off five minutes from time but will hardly worry themselves with another domestic defeat when a Libertadores quarter final lies around the corner.
River Plate also have the Copa Libertadores on the horizon and had Group 3 already in the bag yet still had enough to beat Godoy Cruz 3-1 in Avellaneda.
Bruno Zuculini tapped in an early opener and Julián Álvarez added a second before half time.
That’s not to say that Godoy Cruz didn’t have their chances during the opening 45 minutes and it didn’t take long after the restart for a fine Tomás Badaloni header to reduce River’s lead.
A wayward Leonel González backpass presented Lucas Pratto with a glorious chance and the River centre forward rounded Nelson Ibáñez to make it three.
River’s attention now turns to their Libertadores quarter final with Gallardo’s former club Nacional but with five wins from six in the Copa Diego Maradona, the Millonarios remain one of teams to beat.
Group 6 promised the most ahead of Saturday’s fixtures with three teams vying for two spots but sadly delivered the least. A pair of goalless draws in La Plata and Paraná saw Huracán hold top spot with Gimnasia pipping Vélez to second on goal difference.
A harsh red card to Gimnasia midfielder José Paradela after 23 minutes opened the door for Huracán but a reckless challenge from the already booked Lucas Merolla levelled things up before half time and neither side could find a breakthrough.
With the scores level in La Plata, Vélez knew that a win over Patronato would be enough to secure a place in the Fase Campeonato.
Despite putting five past Deportivo Cali in midweek to progress in the Copa Sudamericana, Vélez’s reshuffled starting eleven couldn’t muster just the one needed in Paraná. A clandestine party and a police investigation into sexual assault with a number of players present was the worst possible build-up to Saturday’s game and the goalless draw sees Vélez slip into the secondary competition – all hopes pinned on next week’s Sudamericana quarter-final.