A controversial comeback against San Lorenzo sees finger-pointing in La Primera to the new head honcho of Argentinean football
Undoubtedly two of the greatest talents in the Primera have both suffered lulls in form in the past but Pity Martinez and Gustavo Bou have restarted the league season on fire with River Plate and Racing reaping the rewards.
Perhaps the victim of his own unquestionable quality, River Plate supporters have always expected more from Gonzalo Pity Martinez, and his tendency to go from world-beater to no-hoper has caused endless frustration at the Monumental.
Flashes of brilliance since his relatively big-money switch from Huracan, have all too often been followed by wasteful or anonymous matches and last year the 23-year-old drew the ire of the River crowd by celebrating a goal with a finger over his lips in an obvious reaction to his critics.
The turnover of players has meant Marcelo Gallardo has struggled to recover the level of performance that saw his side lift the Copa Libertadores in 2015 and while River are not quite there yet, there has been a marked improved since the restart.
Victory over Godoy Cruz in Mendoza was not only deserved but was a third straight win for River and at the centre of the success once again was Pity Martinez.
Two assists on Sunday demonstrated his creativity and passing ability but the winner last week against Belgrano and another goal and assist in the win over Lanus, show his increasing influence in front of goal.
River’s revival has breathed life back into a title challenge that had looked dead and buried at the end of 2016 and while Sebastian Driussi and Lucas Alario took the plaudits previously, it is Pity Martinez now shining brightest.
Bou is back
While Pity is still at an age where European clubs are likely to come calling, Racing’s Gustavo Bou is in the kind of form that leaves you wondering how on earth he is still playing in Argentina.
The knee injury Lisandro Lopez suffered in pre-season required a new leader stepped forward and while Racing are still getting reacquainted with manager Diego Cocca, Bou has dragged them to victory in difficult circumstances.
Saturday’s win away to Quilmes was sensational given La Academia trailed 2-0 at the break and were down to ten men but Bou’s free kick and cross for Lautaro Martinez swiftly brought Racing level before their dramatic winner.
The previous week against Godoy Cruz, Bou struck in stoppage time to snatch all three points and after a slight dip in form coinciding with Ricardo Zielinski’s reserved tactics last year, El Pantera is now firing on all cylinders.
Under Cocca’s leadership previously, Bou fired Racing to the title and although that looks a step too far this season, his individual performances may convince a European club to take a chance on the 27-year-old.
San Lorenzo suffer thrilling defeat
The match of the weekend took place in Victoria where two controversial late goals gave Tigre a shock victory over San Lorenzo sparking suspicion among Los Cuervos supporters.
For all of Diego Aguirre’s side’s attacking intent, San Lorenzo have looked fragile defensively all season but when Bautista Merlini scored his second goal of the game to put them 3-2 ahead in the 81st-minute it looked as though El Ciclon would be ensuring they remained only three points behind league leaders Boca Juniors.
However, a harsh 88th-minute penalty and an injury time winner from an offside position turned the game on its head and left San Lorenzo empty-handed.
So where’s the conspiracy?
The big winners with the result were Boca Juniors, who after their win over Defensa y Justicia extended their lead at the top of the league to five points, but for some the election victory for new AFA president Chiqui Tapia was no coincidence.
President of lower league Barracas Central, Tapia is well known to be an avid Boca fan and appointed club president Daniel Angelici as his vice-president alongside Independiente’s Hugo Moyano. San Lorenzo were one of only three clubs from the 43 eligible to vote that opted to abstain rather than support Tapia and this represented swift retribution.
Something untoward or not, San Lorenzo’s defensive record makes a title challenge impossible. Despite still sitting fourth, you need to go all the way down to Velez in 26th for a side that has conceded more.
Champions Lanus celebrate clasico win
After three straight defeats, Lanus needed a lift and although Jorge Almiron’s side are not yet back to their title winning level, the Granate proved too much for local rivals Banfield.
A calamitous defensive performance by Banfield’s Jorge Rodriguez paved the way but Pepe Sand further cemented his place in Lanus history with a hat-trick to claim bragging rights from the clasico del Sur.