Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Red card frenzy as Colón go top

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

Just two sides remain unbeaten in the Clausura after six rounds of matches and it's little surprise that those two - Colón and Godoy Cruz - are top. They're not away and clear though as three draws each in those six games sees them just a point clear. Colón drew with Rosario Central in a match blighted by three red cards. German Rivarola opened the scoring for Colón just before the break, but they were pegged back by Luciano Figueroa before the flurry of reds. Rosario's Jonatan Gomez went first, a second booking 20 minutes into the second half and he was joined by team-mate Guillermo Burdisso and Colón's Marcelo Goux after a fracas in the closing minutes. Godoy Cruz beat Argentinos Juniors thanks to two early strikes, Federico Higuain and Sergio Sanchez putting them two up in 20 minutes. Santiago Gentiletti pulled one back on the half hour, but neither side could find a crucial breakthrough in the second half.

While Estudiantes and Banfield both stride on in the Libertadores, both dropped points at the weekend. Newell's beat Banfield in a game which came to life after the break, the first half a tepid affair. Cristian Nunez broke the deadlock with 25 minutes left and Joaquin Boghossian made it 2-0 for Newell's ten minutes later. Ruben Ramirez replied almost immediately, but Newell's held the champions off for the last ten minutes or so to seal the win. Martín Palermo put Boca ahead at home to Estudiantes with a first-half penalty and that looked to be enough for all three points until Leandro Gonzalez snatched a point deep into stoppage time. Vélez finished with nine men and conceded two penalties as they lost their first game of the season at Huracán. Rolando Zarate put Velez ahead just before the break, but they imploded after the interval. Gustavo Balvorín equalised from the penalty spot just after the restart before Leandro Velazquez was first man off, picking up a second yellow on the hour. Patricio Toranzo converted Huracán's second spot kick 12 minutes from time and Federico Laurito made it three two minutes later. Santiago Silva pulled one back three minutes from the end, but the Vélez fightback was halted with Maxi Morales's late dismissal.

Two off at Independiente as well, one per side, as they beat Racing Club. Dario Gandín struck from the penalty spot four minutes from half time and the game was up for Racing when Gabriel Hauche was sent off 15 minutes into the second half. Patricio Rodriguez picked up a second yellow in stoppage time, but too late to allow Racing back into the game. Two more off at San Lorenzo as they beat Tigre in among a late frenzy of action. The game was meandering to a goalless outcome when Emiliano Alfaro popped up nine minutes from time to relieve some of the pressure on Diego Siemone. Nelson Benítez was then sent off, reducing Los Azulgrana to ten, but Tigre were reduced to ten themselves barely a minute later, Ribair Rodriguez following Benítez down the tunnel.

Atlético Tucumán and Arsenal occupy the bottom two places after both were beaten by three goals. Diego Morales scored twice for Chacarita as Arsenal went down hard at home while Lanús shared the goals out against Atléti. Sebastian Blanco got the first late in the first half with Diego Lagos and Santiago Salcedo adding the second and third later on. River Plate were grateful to Gustavo Canales for his last minute equaliser which rescued a point from a seeming lost cause after Marcos Perez had put Gimnasia into a lead which they looked well capable of keeping after just eight minutes.

International breaks are for wusses down South America way. While the national team are in Germany for a friendly, there's a full programme of league action this midweek:

Rosario Central v Arsenal
Vélez Sarsfield v Boca Juniors
Racing Club v Huracán
Estudiantes v Argentinos Juniors
Godoy Cruz v Lanús
Tigre v Independiente
Chacarita Juniors v Gimnasia La Plata
Atlético Tucumán v Newell's Old Boys
River Plate v San Lorenzo
Banfield v Colón

It'll be real test of the league leader's credentials as Colón travel to take on Banfield, but the whole league is so tight, anyone putting a run together - in a good way or a bad one - can go from one end of the table to the other in a matter of days. Two points covers first - Colón - to eighth - Banfield, and trying to pick anyone out on form is nigh on impossible. In many ways, the crunch game of the round is San Lorenzo's trip to River Plate, but not for the right reasons. Both sides are under pressure to perform.

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