Luck ran out for Argentina’s U20 side this weekend as they were dumped out of the World Cup in South Korea, after a string of results elsewhere denied them qualification to the last 16.

It was business as usual in the Primera Division, however, with much of the talk prior to the weekend’s fixtures focused, understandably, on the sudden race for first position that has taken new life in recent weeks. For one, Boca’s inconsistency has seen them drop valuable points while a resurgent River side have their rivals in their sights, with two precious games in hand meaning they could soon overtake them and dash to the title.

Late penalty denies Boca victory, River fail to capitalise

With River hot on their tails, Boca faced Huracan in Parque Patricios on Saturday, knowing all eyes would be on them until River’s match on Sunday.

Coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto was able to field captain Fernando Gago who was back from injury, while Ricardo Centurion is still out with that which he sustained in the Superclasico. He also named William Barrios – praised for his efforts in their victory over Newell’s last week – in the starting XI.

The away side eased through most of the first-half and it was topscorer Dario Benedetto who took hold to score on 29 minutes – his 16th goal of the season:

It looked to be all wrapped up for Boca as the match entered the final seconds of stoppage time – yet referee Darío Herrera had other ideas, awarding Huracan a penalty after Boca ‘keeper Rossi, in my opinion, clearly fouled in the area.

Despite protests from Boca staff and players – coach Schelotto was himself sent to the stands, – as well as a desperate plea from midfielder William Barrios, who goalscorer Alejandro Romero Gamarra revealed asked him to miss the penalty, duly converted to level the scores and snatch two vital points from the visitors.

“I’m hurt by the defeat … The draw. It’s not about the pressure for the end of the tournament, in this case it was more for the rival”, said Schelotto after the game, suggesting that the idea of

One Boca fan was especially hurt it seemed, calling the police after the game to report that him and 50,000 others had been “robbed of victory”.

Having seen Boca fail to win, River then had the chance to go within one point of the league leaders with another game in hand on Sunday as they faced an in-form Rosario Central at a packed out El Monumental.

It wasn’t to be however, with neither side able to break the deadlock in a goalless draw – a real missed opportunity for Los Millonarios.

Coach Marcelo Gallardo called the game “horrible” and “ugly” afterwards, and said Wednesday’s match against Atletico Tucuman will be “fundamental” if his team are to put real pressure on Boca. A win there would put them within one point with four games to play.

Newell’s win behind closed doors, San Lorenzo fall from the pack

Newell’s Old Boys fans were granted a stadium ban this week after inciting violence against Rosario Central in their clasico face off two weeks ago. That followed a string of other offences and meant that their match versus Olimpo on Saturday was seen by a crowd of well, no-one, bar a few cameramen and club officials.

That didn’t stop the action however, as Newell’s ran out 3-2 winners to put their name back in the mix for a top finish.

The game took place behind closed doors and saw a minute's silence for the death of club legend Marcelo Bielsa's mother
The game took place behind closed doors and saw a minute’s silence for the death of club legend Marcelo Bielsa’s mother (www.rosario3.com)

San Lorenzo, meanwhile, all but said goodbye to their hopes of clinching their second title of the decade after going down 2-1 to Racing. Banfield, however, rose above them to fourth as they beat Temperley 3-1.

Elsewhere, Belgrano defeated Atletico Rafaela 2-1 to provide a lifeline in their mission to stay in the division. Sarmiento, on the other hand, fell below them as they went down 4-2 away to San Martin San Juan, in a game that included this brilliant team effort from the home side:

Jorge Sampaoli was also this week confirmed as Argentina’s new head coach, and took no time to show his face around the weekend’s matches. Here he is watching Racing beat San Lorenzo, before heading off to see Defensa y Justicia’s 1-0 win over Tigre. He even took the trip to watch River’s 0-0 Central, too. The man just can’t get enough.