By DAVID MOSSE
Nacional entered Saturday’s clash with Defensor Sporting needing only one point to secure the Clausura title, and when Richard Porta opened the scoring after just six minutes, Los Tricolores looked set to finish the job without much drama. But Sporting went down fighting, creating a number of chances and dominating large portions of this pulsating encounter at the Estadio Gran Parque Central.
Fortunately for the home side Nico Lopez sprang to action midway through the second half, scoring two sensational goals just minutes after coming on as a substitute to seal the 3-0 victory. The final 20 minutes did indeed turn into a celebration with the Nacional fans going delirious, while Sporting couldn’t wait to get off the field, knowing it had lost to the best team in the competition.
Goalkeeper Leonardo Burian further enhanced his reputation by coming up with a number of big saves to preserve the lead, while Tabare Viudez provided much of the inspiration, participating in all three goals. Even veteran Argentine Marcelo Gallardo played his part after replacing Mauricio Pereyra. In fact, manager Juan Ramon Carrasco nailed all three substitutions with Anderson Silva contributing as well.
Here’s a rundown of all the weekend scores from some of South American’s top leagues:
Penarol took the field with nothing to play for, but Diego Aguirre’s side battled back from one goal down to take the lead against Central Espanol before a last-minute equalizer resulted in a 2-2 draw. It could prove to be a crucial point for Central in the relegation battle and Matias Vecino was the hero, while Cristian Palacios, Rodrigo Viega and an own goal Andres Fernandez accounted for the rest of the scoring.
River Plate was brought back down to earth on Sunday, as Centro Atletico Fenix notched a comprehensive 4-1 victory to distance itself from the relegation zone and move closer towards a Copa Sudamericana berth. River had been riding high after consecutive emphatic victories, but Maxi Perez scored twice, while Juan Manuel Ortiz and Alejandro Silva also found the back of the net for Rosario Martinez’ side.
Montevideo Wanderers 1, Liverpool 0
Bella Vista 0, CA Cerro 1
El Tanque Sisley 4, Miramar 1
Rampla 0, Danubio 0
Racing Montevideo 3, Tacuarembo 2
Velez Sarsfield concluded a terrible week by falling to Tigre 2-1 on Sunday, and Ricardo Gareca’s side might finish this round level on points with Godoy Cruz at the top of the table. Gareca rested some starters in preparation for the midweek Copa Libertadores clash against Penarol, and El Fortin paid the price despite a sensational goal from Ricky Alvarez. Denis Stracqualursi and Gaston Diaz scored for Tigre.
River Plate remains in serious danger of being relegated after failing to pick up a victory for the fourth consecutive round. Los Millonarios can actually consider themselves lucky to come away with a point on Sunday after being thoroughly outplayed by Olimpo. Martin Rolle and Martin Aguirre squandered the best opportunities for the home side, while Erik Lamela was the lone bright spot for River.
Atletico Colon 1, Argentinos Juniors 2
San Lorenzo 1, Arsenal Sarandi 1
CA All Boys 1, Quilmes 0
Racing Club 1, Atletico Banfield 3
Estudiantes 0, Independiente 2
Boca Juniors 1, Newell’s Old Boys 0
Botafogo bounced back from a disappointing loss to Palmeiras the previous week by knocking off Santos 1-0 on Saturday in the second round of the Brazilian Championship. Caio Junior’s side did benefit from Santos resting several starters in preparation for Wednesday’s Copa Libertadores clash against Cerro Porteno. Fabio Ferreira scored the only goal late in the first half with a shot from inside the area.
Cruzeiro and Palmeiras played to a 1-1 draw in one of the more entertaining games of the round, as midfielder Luan gave the visitors the lead before young Cruzeiro striker Ramon atoned for an incredible miss earlier in the game by equalizing 15 minutes from time. Palmeiras is managed by former World Cup winner Luiz Felipe Scolari and has earned four points from its first two games, while Cruzeiro is winless.
Internacional 0, Ceara 1
Avai 1, Atletico Mineiro 3
Sao Paulo 1, Figueirense 0
Atletico Paranaense 0, Gremio 1
Bahia 3, Flamengo 3
Corinthians 2, Coritiba 1
Vasco 3, America 0
Atletico Goianense 0, Fluminense 1
What did you think of this week’s results? Impressed by Nacional winning the title? Think Velez Sarsfield will fade in Argentina?