Ten years on from sending River Plate down to the Nacional B, Ricardo Zielinski reprised his role as the Millonarios bogeyman. El Ruso’s debut as Estudiantes manager ended in dramatic fashion as his ten men came from behind to defeat Marcelo Gallardo’s title favourites.
Despite the defence still looking shaky, River were on top in La Plata and when Fernando Tobio was sent off before the break for leaving a boot in on Rafael Santos Borré it looked likely that three points would be heading back to the Monumental.
Still waiting to incorporate new signings and without Nacho Fernández and Nicolás De La Cruz River lacked a little in attack but when Fabricio Angileri crossed for Matías Suárez to score the chances of an Estudiantes victory were slim.
Yet in the 78th minute a long ball into the River penalty box, straight out of Zielinski’s Atlético Tucumán playbook, was nodded down and substitute Mauro Díaz picked up the loose ball to ghost past Javier Pinola and equalise.
The draw would have been two points dropped for River yet worse was to come. Deep in stoppage time another free-kick swung into the penalty area found Fabián Noguera and the defender headed in the winner.
Boca Juniors fared only a little better needing a late Edwin Cardona free-kick to earn a point from the visit of Gimnasia.
Another poor display from Miguel Ángel Russo’s side served as a reminder to supporters that they want to see reinforcements arrive in the window. The misfiring attack had been unable to find a way past the Gimnasia defence and when Carlos Izquierdoz eventually headed Boca in front it was a little against the run of play.
The lead didn’t last long and Germán Guiffrey nodded Gimnasia level before the break. The onus was on Boca to find another gear but it was the visitors that led just after the hour mark, Brahian Alemán, the best player on the pitch, stooping to send a diving header past Esteban Andrada.
Out of ideas Boca looked unlikely to find a much needed second goal until five minutes from time when Edwin Cardona stroked a delicate free-kick from just on the edge of the box over the wall and into the top corner.
Earlier in Florencio Varela, Defensa y Justicia began the post-Crespo era. The Copa Sudamericana winning coach departed for São Paulo but with Pablo De Muner in temporary charge the Halcón earned a hard fought 3-2 win over Huracán.
Two goals in two minutes midway through the first half from Walter Bou put Defensa in charge and although Agostino Spina’s deflected shot looped over Ezequiel Unsain to pull one back for Huracán, the visitors comeback hopes were dented by Ezequiel Bonifacio seeing red before the break.
Yet the ten men began the second half positively and an error from Unsain gifted Andrés Chávez a simple equaliser.
Fifteen minutes from time Tomás Martínez, on his return to the club, slipped in fellow substitute Gabriel Hachen and with the help of a touch off the defender the 30-year-old lifted the ball into the net.