Independiente still clung to faint hopes of reaching the Copa Diego Maradona final but had them extinguished in dramatic and controversial fashion as Arsenal snatched a 4-3 win in Avellaneda.
Lucas Albertengo capitalised on weak Independiente defending to score early against his former club and before Lucas Romero rifled in the home side’s equaliser from distance, El Rojo had their first grievance with Néstor Pitana after the referee failed to spot a possible handball against Arsenal defender Fabio Pereyra.
Pushing for a second Independiente found themselves behind again on the hour mark with Jhonatan Candia heading past Sebastián Sosa. Yet once again El Rojo clawed their way level, Jonathan Menéndez blasting into the top corner from 25 yards.
The real moment of controversy came when finely balanced at 2-2. The impressive Alan Velasco looked to have been clearly tripped in the penalty box yet when Pitana waved away appeals, Arsenal broke and instead the visitors scored, Ramiro Luna slotting in unmarked.
Independiente manager Lucas Pusineri fumed and was sent into the stands as Alan Franco soon followed, reducing the home team to ten. Though even with this disadvantage, Velasco managed to squeeze a shot past Alejandro Rivero setting up an end-to-end final few minutes.
Arsenal saw Candia receive his second yellow card to make it ten versus ten and as Independiente saw Nicolás Messiniti hit the underside of the crossbar from five yards out, Arsenal snatched it through Luna.
A wild game of football leaves both sides with no chances of progressing but could have a larger impact on Independiente with Pusineri’s position in serious doubt.
In the Complementación phase of the Copa, Vélez Sarsfield secured a vital win over Newell’s Old Boys to go level at the top of Group B with a game to play.
Newell’s may well wonder how they ended up losing the game with Vélez goalkeeper Lucas Hoyos denying Maxi Rodríguez from close range among a host of first half chances and even when beaten in the second half, the post keeping out Maxi’s skidding shot.
Fifteen minutes from time, a scrappy Miguel Brizuela goal at a corner forced Vélez in front and it proved enough. Vélez have a Copa Sudamericana semi-final coming up but know that a win over Godoy Cruz next weekend if Newell’s slip up against Racing will clinch a place in the Complementación final.
Racing will have nothing to play for but already know it will be Sebastián Beccacece’s final game in charge after the outgoing coach’s penultimate game in Santiago del Estero ended in a 2-2 draw.
Central Córdoba led after only nine minutes when Santiago Rosales eventually forced the ball into the Racing net after Gabriel Arias had twice saved.
It didn’t last long with the league’s leading free-kick expert Matías Rojas bending in a wonderful equaliser and Lorenzo Melgarejo putting Racing in front straight after half time.
Sebastián Ribas tapped in an equaliser and only a goalline save from Arias denied the Uruguayan another as it ended all square.
It also ended level in Paraná where Lanús were held to a 1-1 draw by Patronato.
An exquisite Gastón Lodico free-kick gave Lanús the lead only for an unstoppable, dipping long range strike from Junior Arias to equalise a minute from time.
With Lanús’ hopes of qualifying for the Complementación final now over, all focus is on next week’s Copa Sudamericana semi-final against Vélez.