Gimnasia top the table as Boca & River both falter ahead of Libertadores ties

Written by Darren Paul

Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata continue their fine start to the season, as Newells and Racing Club are both held to frustrating draws, whilst Platense stun Independiente to go third in the standings. 

Nestor Gorosito’s Gimnasia sit atop the Liga Profesional de Fútbol standings after their 1-0 victory over Sebastian Beccacece’s Defensa y Justicia at home. Gimnasia have a lot to thank Rodrigo Rey for as the 31-year-old stopper put on a clinic with a number of fine saves to deny a Defensa side looking for their first win of the campaign. The pick of Rey’s stops was in the second half, as a brilliant freekick from Kevin Gutiérrez was met full stretch, tipping the shot onto the post and to safety. 

Gimnasia were in their element in the second half and after having the upper hand they broke the deadlock after 71 minutes. A corner wasn’t dealt with, and the youngster Tomás Muro found himself with space to fire a volley that took a hugh deflection, leaving Unsain helpless as the ball looped in at the far post. Defensa had their chances to clinch a draw late on but more fine work from Rey kept them at bay and see’s Gimnasia’s brilliant early form remain intact. 

Newell’s Old Boys slipped from top of the tree this weekend with a 2-2 home draw against Patronato. The hosts made the perfect start and after seven minutes took the lead. Victor Gustavo Velázquez met Julián Fernández’s corner with a well struck header, bouncing the ball just infront of the visitor’s keeper Facundo Altamirano and into the Patronato goal. Newell’s had a chance to extend their lead after Patronato’s defender Juan Cruz Guasone was caught in possession, but Ramiro Sordo’s effort was dragged tamely wide. 

Sordo would not make such a mistake just minutes from half time as a low cross from Francisco González was met first time at the far post to double the host’s advantage. 

Ten minutes into the second half Patronato were able to pull a goal back. Some lax defending allowed Jonás Acevedo to chip through a perfectly weighted ball that Sebastián Medina commandingly headed home. Newell’s would have multiple chances to put the game to bed, but their efforts were met with poor finishing and strong goalkeeping before Raúl Lozano tied the contest in the 95th minute, converting with a firmly placed shot into the top corner a ball played in after a good move down Patronato’s left side. The draw sees Newell’s fall to second in the table, whilst Patronato sit in 13 with eight points from six matches. 

Platense moved up to third in the table this weekend after they consigned Independiente to their second 3-1 defeat in as many weeks, ahead of the Classico de Avellaneda this weekend. 

Independiente started the better of the two teams and were rightfully rewarded with the lead after 22 minutes. Lucas Romero played a ball into the area aimed at the edge of the six yard box, which Leandro Benegas headed down across goal to be slid home by Lucas Rodríguez to put the hosts on the board. 

Platense pulled level on the cusp of half time, a turnover in the final third punished as Alexis Sabella turning in a Rodrigo Contreras cross at the near post. The hosts had their chances, and could have regained the lead were it not for the fine goalkeeping of Marcos Ledesma, but it was Platense who would double their lead. Horacio Tijanovich saw his deflected shot squirm through at Sebastian Sosa’s near post, after Sosa made parried a save to deny Nicolás Morgantini. Platense put the icing on the cake in the 91st minute thanks to Vicente Taborda’s sharply struck finish from just outside the area low past Sosa as Independiente searched for an equaliser. 

Banfield occupy fourth after the weekend thanks to a 3-0 drubbing of Boca Juniors at La Bombonera. Banfield could have taken an early lead as Ramiro Enrique got in behind the Boca backline but Javier García, Boca’s keeper and captain was alert to the danger, closed down the striker and saved the blushes of his defenders. After Boca were denied what would have been a fortuitous opener thanks the give reactions of Enrique Bologna, Banfield took the lead on the 21 minute mark thanks to the goal of the weekend from Giuliano Galoppo. Boca’s defence was carved open and Enrique was free to play a cross into the area which Galoppo acrobatically scissor-volleyed into the bottom corner. 

Boca were taken apart again after 34 minutes, a slick counter attack was finished off as Enrique slid home Agustín Urz’s cross at the far post and Enrique would double his tally for the day, getting in behind the Boca line and finishing high into the goal past the onrushing Garcia to clinch the three points for Banfield. 

Boca had their chances to get back into the contest in the second half, Aaron Molinas saw his curling freekick tipped onto the bar by Bologna and the resulting follow-up attempt being cleared off the line, but the damager had already been done and Banfield were well worth their commanding victory. 

Huracán round out the top five after downing 10-man River Plate 3-2 at home. After a slow opening half-hour River found themselves a man-down as Jonathan Maidana retaliated against Matías Cóccaro holding him down following a coming together on the sideline. After sustained pressure the hosts found the opener on 37 minutes as Jonathan Galván fired a shot in at the near post past two River defenders to give the hosts the lead heading into the break. River’s defence was unlocked again on the 63rd minute mark as a long ball over the top was beautifully brought down by Franco Cristaldo and following a rapid one-two with Rodrigo Cabral, Cristaldo slotted the ball home.  

River found their way back into the contest just six minutes later as their forwards queued up to head home Ezequiel Barco’s cross at the back post with Leandro González Pirez the player to bag the goal. Huracán though would regain their two goal cushion at the penalty spot three minutes later, Matías Cóccaro was clumsily brought down in the area and Cristaldo was on hand to hammer home the penalty. 

River pulled the game back to within a goal thanks to the Manchester City bound Julián Álvarez. Álvarez rose above the crowd with a cushioned flick on header but it wasn’t enough as Huracán held out for an important victory. 

Racing Club de Avellaneda continue their inconsistent start to the season and dropped out of the top three following their 1-1 away draw at Sarmiento de Junin, thanks, in no small part to the stellar goalkeeping of Sarmiento’s stopper Sebastián Meza. Meza, at just 22, stole the show and arguably a point for Sarmiento as he held Racing at bay for 74 minutes and looked unbeatable for much of that time.

Racing had much of the chances in the first half, mixing up shots from distance and more direct efforts from inside the area but it would Sarmiento who would take the lead six minutes into the second half. Racing idol Lisandro López was being shown out of play on the byline before he fired in a cross that struck the hand of Emiliano Insúa and Pablo Echavarría wasted no time in pointing to the spot. The resulting penalty was placed into the bottom right corner by Jonathan Torres who sent Gastón Gómez the wrong way. 

Racing looked to pile on the pressure as Sarmiento were happy to soak it up and kill the clock before subsitute Gabriel Hauche put in a cross that Enzo Coppeti headed crisply into the bottom corner past the diving Meza. Meza would hit his face on the post but would be fine to continue, despite being bloodied in the save attempt. The remainder of the game saw Racing push desperately to clinch the victory whilst Sarmiento battled to save their point, which they did thanks to more sound goalkeeping from Meza. 

Carlos Tevez is still in search of a first victory as manager of Rosario Central as new Aldosivi boss Leandro Somoza would claim his side’s first win of the season, in his debut at the helm. Aldosivi nearly had the dream start, as Andrés Ríos shot past Central’s keeper Gaspar Servio but found his shot blocked smartly on the line by Cristian Báez. Rios would not be denied just after the half-hour mark as Servio bobbled a shot attempt from Patricio Boolsen into the path of Rios who hammered home the rebound. 

Servio would make amends later in the period with a stunning save denying a long-range effort from Rios that the stopper saw late. 

The second half started with Central putting on the pressure as they did last week, forcing a fine save from José Devecchi in the Aldosivi goal, but the set piece pressure told as Báez bundled the ball over the line to tie the game with half an hour remaining. 

Leandro Maciel would clinch the contest for Aldosivi with just seven minutes left, as he converted a low struck cross from Braian Martínez high into the goal. The goal came from an appalling defensive breakdown by Central’s back line, which afforded Maciel too much space after a late run from deep. 

Aldosivi’s win brings them level on points with Central, but still bottom of the table on goal difference, thanks in part to their hammering to Racing last weekend. 

Around the League: 

Argentinos Juniors kicked off the weekend with a 2-1 away win over Central de Cordoba, a 76th minute penalty from Miguel Torrén clinching their third win of the season to get the weekend started. 

Saturday was filled with low scoring matchups, with Tigre and Talleres sharing the spoils with a 1-1 draw as Godoy Cruz got by Colon 1-0 and Atletico Tucuman took an away win from Velez by the same scoreline. 

Sunday saw a bounty of goals as Union de Santa Fe took down Lanus 3-0 at home before Barracas Central overcame San Lorenzo 2-1 at home, before Arsenal also took a home win 2-1 over Estudiantes de La Plata.