As attention turned to the Champions League final and Gonzalo Higuain’s infuriating knack of going AWOL in major tournament finals, the Primera Division provided us with some real bumper over the weekend. Could River take a step closer to the unthinkable? Would Boca crack under pressure? What’s Brian Fernandez been up to? Here’s all the answers you need:
River miss chance to go top
Second-placed River Plate headed into their match against San Lorenzo on Sunday afternoon knowing that a win would launch them ahead of Boca Juniors, if only until their rival’s encounter with Independiente five hours later, and many expected Marcelo Gallardo’s side to take full advantage of the opportunity.
San Lorenzo had other ideas, however, and a sun-drenched, packed out Nuevo Gasómetro didn’t have to wait long to see their team take the lead. With just 12 minutes on the clock, Fernando Belluschi’s nifty cross (more of him later) was met with an exquisite on-the-turn volley by Nicolas Blandi, his 10th goal of the season.
River replied soon after, however, as they were gifted a penalty after Marcos Angeleri handled in the area. Sebastian Driussi put River back on level terms, but a nasty looking hip injury put an end to his afternoon just minutes later.
1-1 was how the score remained until ten minutes into the second half, as San Lorenzo’s winner was somewhat gifted to them by under-fire River keeper Augusto Batalla. Granted, the shot-stopper is only 21 years old, but River fans won’t be letting him forget this mistake, nor the other ones he has made throughout the tournament, any time soon.
On the contrary, San Lorenzo youngster Bautista Merlini received a standing ovation as he departed the pitch. The 21 year-old starred as an attacking threat despite having only made 4 appearances this season.
The plaudits of the day, however, have to go to the aforementioned Fernando Belluschi, making River’s players look like amateurs with this delicious double nutmeg or “caño” before providing his side’s winner:
— Diario Olé (@DiarioOle) June 5, 2017
Marcelo Gallardo, who cut a rather bewildered figure on the touchline, remained positive after the match.
“We are going to continue fighting it (the title). This defeat does not cloud all the good that has been done.”
After a true partidazo of football, San Lorenzo move into fourth while River stay second – enjoy all the goals below:
Los goles de San Lorenzo 2 – River 1. La buena definición de Blandi, el penal de Driussi y la mala salida de Batalla, posterior gol de Díaz pic.twitter.com/OiqQj45z20
— VarskySports (@VarskySports) June 4, 2017
Boca back in the driving seat with three to play
Having watched River fail to capitalise on the one-point gap that separated first and second, Boca Juniors went into their match with Independiente – dubbed their last serious challenge of the season – knowing a win would restore their precious four point lead at the top.
From the off, the boys in blue and yellow attacked with intent and were rewarded with a penalty half an hour into the game. Dario Benedetto, this week linked with Spanish side Sevilla, converted to continue his run of scoring.
It didn’t take much longer for Junior Benitez to meet a well-worked Cristian Pavon cross just before half-time to double the home side’s lead. Benedetto netted his second of the match – and 18th of the season – on the 75th minute to cap the game off.
A win that never looked in doubt, Boca look set to claim the title with just three games to play.
— Boca Juniors Ecuador (@BocajrsEcuador) June 5, 2017
“The team turned up when it needed to turn up”, said coach Guillermo Barrios Schelotto after the match. Full steam ahead towards the championship, then.
Brian Fernandez on the mend, hope for Rafaela and sackings at Tigre and Newell’s
Remember Racing’s talented forward Brian Fernandez, the player who made a blistering return from a drugs ban back in January? Well, he was back in the news not long after for a drink-driving offence, and, understandably tired of his antics, Racing loaned him out to Junin-based club Sarmiento for a ‘rehabilitation period’ of sorts.
And it looks like the move is having some effect, as the 22 year-old scored a cracking goal to lead his new side to victory when they faced Defensa y Justicia on Friday.
FECHA 27: Mejores goles.
-Brian Fernández a Defensa y Justicia. pic.twitter.com/sFdGuWgbRP
— Encuestas de Fútbol (@Encuesta5Futbol) June 5, 2017
Fernandez celebrated by asking for forgiveness, while team and now roommate Walter Busse shared stories of Brian’s toiletery habits in the post-match. Happy days.
Atletico Rafaela grabbed an unexpected victory away in Mendoza to keep their hopes of staying in the Primera Division alive, defeating Godoy Cruz 2-0. Tigre’s 3-0 defeat at home to Velez spelled the end of Facundo Sava’s time in charge of El Matador, having managed just 10 games, winning two, drawing one and losing seven.
Finally, Newell’s Old Boys boss Diego Osella bid farewell to the club after falling from second-place to fifth in a matter of weeks, as well as enduring a few notable fall-outs with club president Eduardo Bermudez over pay disputes. “It can’t go on like this”, said Osella after the match, while Bermudez seemingly brushed off his criticisms by sarcastically asking if Osella thinks “he comes from Barcelona or Real Madrid”. Get it? Me neither.