BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Boca Juniors equalised six minutes into added time to snatch a last-gasp 2-2 draw at Atletico Rafaela and cling to the lead in the Argentine championship on Sunday.
Striker Nicolas Blandi salvaged the point for Boca with an overhead kick from a corner in a dramatic climax to the match in Santa Fe province.
Boca have a key Libertadores Cup match in Chile in midweek and fielded several young reserves including Blandi, who could have put Boca two up early in the second half but for a penalty save by Guillermo Sara.
“It was a very important match for us youngsters who don’t get to play regularly,” Blandi told broadcasters Futbol Para Todos.
Striker Pablo Mouche put Boca ahead after half an hour with a shot between Sara and the near post from the left at the end of a lightning counter-attack.
Defender Fabricio Fontanini headed the equaliser for Rafaela on the hour and, when the match looked like ending in a 1-1 draw, Boca substitute Enzo Ruiz gave away a penalty for handball in the fourth minute of added time.
Striker Dario Gandin converted the penalty with his seventh goal of the championship but the drama did not end there with Boca fighting back to regain their point.
Champions Boca have 25 points from 13 matches and now share the lead in the Clausura standings with Newell’s Old Boys, who were 2-1 winners at Olimpo.
Racing Club beat Estudiantes 2-0 in the stand-out match of the weekend as young trainer Luis Zubeldia continued to mastermind their recovery from a disappointing spell under former Argentina coach Alfio Basile.
“In Argentine football these days it’s very important to score the first goal, fortunately we got it,” Zubeldia told a news conference, pointing to a trend in the domestic game where teams scoring first generally secure at least one point.
Defender Lucas Aveldano put Racing ahead late in the first half with a neat backheel through a packed penalty area after a free kick from the right.
Colombian Gio Moreno, coming on in the second half, scored a peach for the second with a lobbed finish over Argentina goalkeeper Mariano Andujar in the final minute.
Estudiantes holding midfielder Rodrigo Brana was sent off five minutes from time for a second booking.
Former Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino’s young Newell’s side bucked the trend by coming from a goal down for their 2-1 victory in Bahia Blanca.
Lanus, another of the three Argentine sides in the knockout phase of the Libertadores Cup, went ahead after six minutes at Godoy Cruz in Mendoza and won 1-0.
Velez Sarsfield, among the Libertadores favourites, fell behind to Argentinos Juniors at home on Saturday and ended up losing 2-0.
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