BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Independiente boosted their fight to avoid relegation for the first time with a 2-0 home win over Racing Club in a passionate Argentine derby on Sunday.
Teenager Leonel Miranda gave the Red Devils the lead after two minutes and substitute Jonathan Santana made sure in the third minute of stoppage time at the Libertadores de America ground in the suburb of Avellaneda.
The win in the first major "clasico" of the "Final" championship lifted Independiente out of the bottom three in the relegation standings, a separate table of average points over three seasons that determines which three teams will go down.
Miranda stunned Racing with a low shot from outside the box that went inside Sebastian Saja’s right-hand post with the goalkeeper diving late as he was unsighted by Racing defenders.
Independiente dominated a strangely lethargic Racing in a tense exciting match and Santana took a pass from the right by Colombian striker Juan Caicedo to score the second with the referee about to blow the final whistle.
Racing’s substitute winger Diego Villar was sent off six minutes from time for a dangerous foul on Colombian midfielder Fabian Vargas.
Boca Juniors lost 2-0 at modest All Boys on Saturday, leaving coach Carlos Bianchi’s side with four points out of a possible nine.
Oscar Ahumada ghosted in behind the defence to chest down fellow midfielder Santiago Montoya’s high pass into the box and steer the ball past goalkeeper Oscar Ustari in the 51st minute and striker Angel Vildozo converted a penalti 10 minutes later.
Boca’s former Argentina playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme is working on his fitness preparing to come back from a seven month break from football to help the coach with whom he shared in a string of titles in previous spells at the club.
Title holders Velez Sarsfield, winners of the "Inicial" championship in the first half of the season, fell 1-0 away to Lanus, a team fast emerging as serious contenders for the "Final" title.
Velez, however, fielded a majority of reserves resting first team players for Tuesday’s match away to Penarol of Uruguay in the Libertadores Cup, which coach Ricardo Gareca has said is the champions’ priority this year.
Striker Silvio Romero scored to take his tally to three and Lanus lead the standings with a perfect record of nine points from three matches and eight goals scored to none conceded.
Godoy cruz are second with seven points and Independiente are one of three teams on six, including River Plate, who can catch Lanus if they beat Tigre at home in Sunday’s late match.
(Writing by Rex Gowar in London, editing by Ed Osmond)
- Fourth defeat in a row ends Diaz’s stay at Independiente
- Farias stuns Boca to give Independiente 5-4 win
- Independiente and Genoa fined for transfer system misuse
- Crowd violence mars Sante Fe derby, leaders beaten
- Independiente coach Gallego admits relegation worries