By DAVID MOSSE
It doesn’t get much worse for one of the proudest clubs in South America, as River Plate lost 2-1 at home to Lanus on Saturday, finishing the season on a seven-match winless streak. Los Millonarios now face the ignonimity of a relegation playoff against Belgrano, and defeat would certainly represent the worst moment in River history.
Juan Jose Lopez opted for a more attack-minded lineup, but Los Millonarios fell behind to a goal from Silvio Romero. Youngster Erik Lamela has been just about the only bright spot this season, and he equalized early in the second half before Leandro Diaz found the back of the net in stoppage time to crush River Plate’s hopes.
Matias Almeyda failed to establish control in the center of the park, while strikers Leandro Caruso and Mauro Pavone were unable to cause problems for a solid Lanus back-line. The introduction of Mauro Diaz in place of Roberto Pereyra midway through the second half had very little effect, and even Lamela faded near the end.
The final whistle brought angry recriminations from the stands with one supporter even suffering a heart attack. It was bedlam at the Monumental and changes are in order, as both Lopez and team president Daniel Passarella are very much in the crosshairs. And amazingly enough, the drama may not be over for River Plate.
Here’s a rundown of all the weekend scores from some of South American’s top leagues:
Boca Juniors’ problems may pale in comparison to those of archrival River Plate, but Los Xeneizes didn’t exactly enjoy a banner campaign. Christian Cellay scored twice, including a stoppage-time equalizer to salvage a point, but the 2-2 draw means Boca is out of the Copa Sudamericana. It was the last-ever match for Martin Palermo.
Velez Sarsfield didn’t rest on its laurels on Sunday, producing a fine display in front of its home fans to knock Racing Club out of the Copa Sudamericana. Argentinos Juniors were the beneficiaries, as El Fortin notched a 2-1 victory with goals from Victor Zapata and Augusto Fernandez. Gabriel Hauche was on target for the visitors.
Independiente 5, Atletico Huracan 1
Quilmes 0, Olimpo 1
Argentinos 1,Tigre 1
Godoy Cruz 1, CA All Boys 0
Arsenal Sarandi 1, Estudiantes 0
Newell’s Old Boys 1, Atletico Colon 0
Atletico Banfield 1, San Lorenzo 1
Defending champions Fluminense were jeered off the field on Saturday following a 1-0 loss to Bahia. Fred turned in a dismal performance and the veteran striker won’t be heading to the Copa America in great form. Abel Braga is still searching for his first victory since taking charge, as Fluminense now finds itself 12th in the standings.
Lucas Moura scored another sensational goal, as Sao Paulo continued its impressive start to the season with a 2-0 win over Ceara on Sunday. Paulo Cesar Carpegiani’s side made it five wins in as many games to remain in first place, but Carpegiani will be without the 18-year-old for several weeks, as Lucas heads to the Copa America.
Ronaldinho, meanwhile, has yet to find the back of the net against any of Flamengo’s big rivals after a scoreless draw with Botafogo on Sunday. Wanderley Luxemburgo’s side has drawn four straight games and is struggling offensively with Thiago Neves unable to produce the same form that led to a national team recall last month.
America 1, Cruzeiro 1
Figueirense 2, Atletico Paranaense 0
Gremio 1, Vasco da Gama 1
Palmeiras 5, Avai 0
Atletico Mineiro 2, Atletico Goianense 2
Coritiba 1, Internacional 1
Atletico Nacional looked set to claim the Clausura title after Dorlan Pabon and Carlos Renteria found the back of the net, but La Equidad’s Roberto Polo scored in stoppage time to level the aggregate at 3-3, sending the final to a penalty shootout. As it turns out, Polo’s dramatic goal only served to delay the suffering for Los Aseguradores.
Argentinean goalkeeper Gaston Pezzuti proved the hero, stopping three penalties, as Nacional won the shootout 3-2 to claim its 11th domestic title. It is the second triumph for manager Santiago Escobar, brother of former national team defender Andres Escobar, and the second time El Verde has beaten La Equidad in a final.
What did you think of this week’s results? Impressed by Nacional winning the title? Think River Plate can survive in Argentina?