Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Primera División de Argentina - week 17

Godoy Cruz 1-1 Rosario Central
Huracán 0-1 Banfield
Racing Club 1-0 Tigre
Argentinos Juniors 2-1 San Lorenzo
Atlético Tucumán 2-0 Colón
Boca Juniors 1-2 Independiente
Vélez Sársfield 3-1 River Plate
Newell's Old Boys 1-2 Arsenal
Lanús 2-0 Gimnasia La Plata

The Apertura season is coming to a disjointed close. Some clubs have already finished, some have one game remaining while most have two. So despite how the table looks, only three clubs are in with a chance of winning and one of those is very much an outside shot.

Banfield are back at the top and in the box seat to win the title given games to come against Tigre and Boca Juniors. The run-in certainly has been their friend; a single goal was enough to beat lowly Huracán before those two final, eminently winnable games. Santiago Silva it was with his 14th of the season to send his side back to the top because Newell's slipped up at home to Arsenal. Quarter of an hour in, Franco Sara scored a cracker on the break and he turned provider for the second, ten minutes from half-time, playing in Marias Perez who took it round the keeper and fired it high into the roof of the net. Joaquin Boghossian got one back after the break - and after a dog was removed from the pitch - but Arsenal held on for the win. The other side that could win are Vélez Sársfield, 3-1 winners over River Plate. In order to win, they need to beat Chacarita and Rosario Central while hoping Banfield fail to pick up another point and Newell's fail to beat either of Gimnasia and San Lorenzo. Maxi Morales put Vélez ahead with a fizzer from the edge of the box half an hour in. They had chances to extend the lead, but River got back level through Mauro Diaz on 75 minutes who chipped over the keeper from just inside the box. With time running out, Hernan López bundled the ball in at the back stick and Rolando Zarate powered home a header to seal the win.

Tigre remain three points adrift at the bottom, beaten by Racing for whom Sébastien Grazzini got the only goal of the game. It's going to take a mighty effort for them to avoid the wooden spoon now. Huracán and Gimnasia are the only sides Tigre can now overhaul and it's unlikely to be the latter of those despite defeat at Lanús. Sebastien Blanco scored a fine solo effort in the first half and Santiago Salcedo wrapped it up in second half stoppage time.

Everyone else is jockeying for mid-table position. Boca Juniors went down again, 2-1 at home to Independiente, a late Ignacio Piatti strike snatching all three points. Colón's title push ended with defeat in Tucumán with Luis Rodriguez getting both goals for Atléti, one from the penalty spot. The only red card of the round went to Argentinos Juniors' Gustavo Oberman who had, four minutes previously, grabbed what turned out to be the winner against San Lorenzo.

A round of midweek games began yesterday:

Huracán 0-0 Boca Juniors
Colón 1-0 Godoy Cruz
Independiente 1-1 Argentinos Juniors
San Lorenzo v Lanús
Gimnasia La Plata v Newell's Old Boys
Banfield v Tigre
Chacarita Juniors v Vélez Sársfield
Arsenal v Atlético Tucumán
River Plate v Racing Club

Colón finished their season with a win, Federico Nieto's penalty enough to beat Godoy Cruz. No goals between Huracán and Boca leave the former hanging on, three points ahead of Tigre who have a game in hand. Independiente's charge up the table started a bit too late and the draw with Argentinos Juniors ends their title push. Dario Gandín looked to have given them a win with ten minutes left, but Gonzalo Prosperi snatched a late equaliser which leaves Independiente too far adrift to win it.

Banfield ought to beat Tigre, especially at home, which means Newell's need to beat Gimnasia in order to take the title to the final weekend. Should Banfield win, then Tigre are all but bottom, no matter what Huracán do against River Plate. The relegation places are decided on an average of the last three campaigns and, frankly, there aren't enough minutes in the day to go through all the permutations.

We'll round up the penultimate games and preview the final weekend of this Apertura season on Friday.

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