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Sunday, 19 August 2007

4745: Argentina Apertura 2007 Weekly

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by : Cody Strunk

The new Argentinean season got underway with surprise results commonplace on the opening weekend of the campaign.

With arch-rivals River Plate not in action in the opening round of matches, pre-season title favourites Boca Juniors missed the chance to put down an early marker in being held to a goalless draw at home to Rosario Central.

There was even less to cheer about for fans of defending champions San Lorenzo, who opened their account for the season with a 1:0 defeat at Newell’s Old Boys. The loss was particularly hard to take given that substitute Leonel Vangioni winner came just a minute from full-time, which in turn came three minutes after Newell’s centre-back Nicolas Spolli had been dismissed for two bookable offences.

The other likely title contenders, Estudiantes, got off to a flier with a 3:0 win at Banfield, with all the goals coming in the last 16-minutes. Their cause was helped when Banfield were reduced to 10-men just after the hour mark following a debut red card for Paraguayan defender Jose Devaca, with goals from Ezequiel Maggiolo, an own goal from veteran defender Javier Sanguinetti (ironically brought on following Devaca’s dismissal) and an injury-time penalty from Juan Sebastian Veron seeing the visitors home.

Velez Sarsfield are an outside bet as possible title contenders this term and Ricardo La Volpe’s team began with a 1:0 win at Colon, with a Damian Escudero goal early in the second-half proving sufficient. The win was all the more impressive given that they had new Uruguayan defender Pablo Lima sent-off just two-minutes into the match.

The game of the opening round for goals and entertainment was undoubtedly that between Independiente and Lanus, with the former winning 5:3. A Lautaro Acosta header put the visitors in front on 15-minutes, but Independiente were back level within a minute through German Denis. The prolific Denis had Independiente ahead on 34-minutes, only for Sebastian Salomon to pull Lanus level three-minutes later. Striker Victor Sosa made it 3:2 to Independiente in first-half injury-time, but Adrian Peralta tied things up again on the hour mark. The defining moment of the game came with barely 10-minutes remaining, when striker Jose Sand was given a straight red card for the visitors on his club debut. Two goals in five-minutes from Independiente’s star player, Daniel Montenegro, was enough to ensure a winning start for new manager Pedro Troglio.

It was generally a good weekend for the four newly promoted clubs, with only Olimpo going down to defeat, with two late goals within a minute of each other from Facundo Sava and Cristian Pellerano giving visitors Racing Club the points. A Martin Galmarini goal on 64-minutes secured Tigre a winning start at Gimnasia La Plata, although a red card for Diego Castano (his third in seven matches) on 73-minutes made for an anxious finish for the new boys. San Martin San Juan also claimed a 1:0 win from their trip to Argentinos Juniors, a 25th minute header from Luis Tonelotto proving to be enough. Huracan began their campaign with a 1:1 draw at home to Arsenal de Sarandi, with a Walter Gomez free-kick putting Huracan ahead on six-minutes, but Sebastian Carrera equalising for Arsenal on 19-minutes.

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