[ARGENTINA]The curious decline of reigning Argentine champion River Plate seemed to finally come to a halt at the weekend, as the last-place team clawed back a three-goal deficit at home to Huracan. Meanwhile its great rival Boca Juniors scored a last-minute winner to maintain its challenge for the Apertura (opening) championship.
Coach Diego Simeone was taking charge of the River Plate team for the last time following his resignation Friday. He had promised to quit if River lost its two-game Copa Sudamericana quarterfinal to Chivas Guadalajara of Mexico, and this duly came to pass last week with a 4-3 aggregate defeat.
Simeone, the former Argentine national team midfielder with over 100 caps to his name, had lead River to the 2008 Clausura (closing) championship half a year after taking over. He'd also enjoyed coaching success with Racing Club and Estudiantes, presiding over the latter's 2006 Apertura championship win, the club's first trophy for 23 years. He'd been tipped to succeed Alfio Basile as Argentina coach until River's disastrous 1-6-7 record this fall that has seen them plummet to the foot of the standings.
River at least had the distinction of being one of only two teams in the league to score more than two goals at the weekend. It was only a shame that the other was its visiting opponent Huracan, which raced into a 3-0 first-half lead thanks to a brace from Hernan Barcos and a goal from Hugo Barrientos. Whatever Simeone said in his final halftime speech evidently had some effect. Comeback goals from Matias Enrique Abelairas, Garcia Radamel Falcao (a penalty), and Eduardo Nicolas Tuzziop leveled the score at 3-3, but still left River one point behind Rosario Central, and 19 points behind leader San Lorenzo with just five games of the opening championship to go.
The leader edged Gimnasia de Jujuy 2-1 thanks to a late winner from Gonzalo Bergessio, but Boca Juniors kept level with San Lorenzo on points by winning 1-0 at Arsenal de Sarandi thanks to a last-minute free-kick from Juan Roman Riquelme. Third-place CA Tigre is two points adrift of the top two after failing to hold a 2-1 lead at 10-man Colon de Santa Fe. Ruben Dario Ramirez equalized for the hosts in the final minute.
In this weekend's games San Lorenzo travels to fifth-placed Newell's Old Boys, while Boca entertains Velez Sarsfield, which is eighth.
Goals scored: 27 in 10 games (2.7 per game)