A Superliga title race that looked done and dusted for Boca Juniors is now on the brink of turning into one of the world’s biggest chokes
Half-an-hour of replays at the final whistle and almost two days of debating was the reaction to Boca Juniors not being awarded a penalty at the death against Independiente.
This speaks volumes of the Argentinean sports press and of the generous refereeing Boca usually enjoy but as the reigning champions slipped to a second consecutive defeat, few seemed to be discussing the more valid point – Boca just aren’t and haven’t been playing very well.
Independiente weren’t great either and a moment of quality on the counter, finished well by Martín Benítez sealed it but Boca were again devoid of creativity. Guillermo Barros Schelotto will point to injuries but he also has undoubtedly the deepest squad in Argentina at his disposal.
Boca were probably good value for a draw and could have been awarded that injury time penalty for handball but with back-to-back defeats and a lead now only of four points, anything less than victory against Newell’s next week and the alarm bells will be sounding louder than ever.
In part because of the form of Godoy Cruz. The Mendocinos chalked up a fifth straight win from the visit of Temperley to the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas and are now all but set up for at least Copa Libertadores football in 2019.
Not conceding many and scoring goals for fun, mainly through Superliga leading scorer Santiago García, Godoy Cruz are now also winning on the road and Boca will just be grateful that manager Diego Dabove only took over half way through the season.
That victory on Sunday confirmed Temperley’s relegation at long last, on a weekend that concluded all business down at the bottom of the descenso table.
Arsenal were gone two weeks ago and in a relegation battle that has lacked any drama whatsoever, Temperley, Olimpo and Chacarita Juniors joined them.
All four have been rooted in the drop zone all season. Olimpo’s defeat at home to San Martín ensured there was to be no repeat of the miraculous escape of last season and Chacarita Juniors were eventually confirmed after Colón handed Los Funebreros another loss and Vélez Sarsfield earned a point against San Lorenzo.
Chacarita’s promotion had come as something of a surprise so a swift return to the Nacional B is no surprise while Arsenal, Temperley and Olimpo will be no loss to the top-flight.
Vélez’s late draw against San Lorenzo ensured Gabriel Heinze’s side remain in the Superliga and saw San Lorenzo remain in the Copa Libertadores places.
Independiente and Talleres, who slipped to a third consecutive defeat complete the top five and competition remains fierce just below in the Copa Sudamericana spots.
Huracán lead the way from Racing Club in seventh, who suffered defeat to Defensa y Justicia, and as Unión and Argentinos Juniors both dropped points, it is River Plate, now the form side.
Marcelo Gallardo’s second half substitutes were instrumental in earning a 2-0 win over Rosario Central and with a fifth consecutive win, Los Millonarios now look almost certain to grab one of those Sudamericana spots.