Thursday, 12 August 2010

River scrape a win

Arsenal 1-2 Lanús
Quilmes 1-1 Colón
Argentinos Juniors 1-2 Huracán
Newell's Old Boys 0-1 Estudiantes
Racing Club 1-0 All Boys
Banfield 2-1 Olimpo
River Plate 1-0 Tigre
Gimnasia La Plata 0-0 San Lorenzo
Vélez Sarsfield 1-0 Independiente
Godoy Cruz 0-0 Boca Juniors

As you all know, relegation issues in Argentina are worked out on a three-season average. This is a not very thinly-veiled method designed to keep the big boys in the top flight even if they have a wobble one season. Well, for the traditional powerhouses of the country, Boca and River Plate, it's been a few seasons now since they were genuine forces. Boca are low down the average table, but not in any immediate danger. River Plate, however, are in bother. Just the three promoted sides - Quilmes, All Boys and Olimpo who haven't played in the top flight in the last three seasons and therefore have ratings of zero - are below them. With the truncated nature of the Argentine season - very much a sprint rather than a marathon - a good start is essential for those with title ambitions or those fighting at the bottom. River were the better side for long periods of their opener against Tigre and struck a post in the 24th minute, but were being held 0-0 as the game went into stoppage time. Ariel Ortega then found a cross for Rogerio Mori to head in a crucial winner.

Estudiantes are one of those sides with ambitions of the title, even if Mauro Boselli reckons Wigan is nicer than La Plata. A single goal was enough to get them off to a win after a needless and obvious handball midway through the second half gave Juan Sebastian Veron the opportunity to smash a penalty away to seal the three points. Santiago Silva was on the mark on opening day as Vélez beat Independiente who ended with ten men when Julian Velazquez was sent off after picking up a second booking. Champions Argentinos Juniors were beaten despite going ahead, Gonzalo Vargas springing the offside trap and finishing with a lovely dink over the advancing keeper. Two goals in two second half minutes turned the game. Marino Martinez got the first, a ricochet falling at his feet six yards out, and Cesar Montiglio lashing in the winner from a tight-ish angle. Any chance of an Argentinos comeback was dashed with Gabriel Perez sent off for a second caution with 15 minutes left. Banfield won the last Apertura and start this campaign with a win over Olimpo, though the new boys were in front within 30 seconds of the start, Alejandro Delorte getting his head on a deep cross. Banfield were back into it with a penalty half way through the first half, smashed straight down the middle by Walter Erviti, and they ended the half in front, Cristian Garcia nodding in from close range from a set piece.

Neither of the other new boys could manage a win, but Quilmes did at least get a point off Colón thanks to a late, late equaliser. Esteban Fuertes had Colón in front late in the first half, bundling the ball over the line after seeing it blocked twice and eventually pushed over the line with his face. Juan Morales rescued a point in the last minute of normal time with a tap-in at the back post as a cross evaded everyone in the box. A stupidly optimistic free-kick somehow found it's way through to Lucas Aveldano for Racing's only goal against All Boys, but that was enough despite the late dismissal of Claudio Yacob.

Boca Juniors were caught napping in defence to allow Roberto Russo round the back to latch onto a deep cross to put Godoy Cruz ahead, but the lead lasted just six minutes when Lucas Viatri ended some patient build-up play with a nice chested control, swivel and shot. Lanús beat Arsenal after going ahead through Marcos Aguirre who wove his way through the defence before firing in from close range. Mauro Obolo equalised, albeit thanks largely to some generous goalkeeping, but the game was won with a routine header from a corner from Guido Pizarro with quarter of an hour to go.

Next week, Estudiantes have a good chance to continue their good start with a home tie against Quilmes while day one winners Huracán and River Plate are lined up against each other. In this format, you can't afford to fall too far behind, so Argentinos need to get moving soon, but have a tough trip to Independiente in round two.

Colón v Banfield
Boca Juniors v Racing Club
Lanús v Newell's Old Boys
Tigre v Arsenal
San Lorenzo v Godoy Cruz
Huracán v River Plate
All Boys v Vélez Sarsfield
Estudiantes v Quilmes
Olimpo v Gimnasia La Plata
Independiente v Argentinos Juniors

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