Final TournamentSunday, March 23, 2014
Racing returns to victory after seven games
Finally some relief for coach ‘Mostaza’ Merlo
Coach Reinaldo “Mostaza” Merlo will finally have a calmer week after Racing beat Belgrano 2-0 with a top-match performance by Sebastián Saja to end a negative run of seven games without victories.
With a fantastic performance from captain, top-scorer and goalkeeper Sebastián Saja, Racing cut its negative run of seven matches without victories as it defeated Belgrano 2-0 yesterday at the Juan Domingo Perón stadium in Avellaneda in a game for the ninth round of the Final Tournament.
The victory also gave some relief to coach Reinaldo “Mostaza” Merlo, whose continuity as the team’s boss was in doubt at the beginning of the week after the recent poor results. The club officials met on Monday to discuss if Merlo should continue in charge of the squad and decided to give him a last chance.
The players showed their commitment with the coach yesterday as they took a deserved victory, although the visitors were the best side during the first minutes.
Belgrano had many scoring chances in the first half to break the 0-0, but Saja blocked all of them.
The match turned around in the 33rd minute, when Racing’s Valentín Viola and Belgrano’s Luciano Lollo struggled for the ball inside the visitors’ box and it hit the defender’s hand. Referee Saúl Laverni awarded a penalty, which Saja shot to put the host ahead. It was the third goal for the goalie, who is the team’s top scorer in the tournament.
“The goal gave us some calm and we finished a great match,” said Saja after the game.
Racing dominated the ball during the rest of the encounter, while Belgrano was hardly hit by the penalty and its performance decreased.
Merlo’s team had a perfect opportunity to extend its lead in the 80th, when Belgrano’s Jorge Velázquez hit Diego Villar with his elbow inside the box and Laverni awarded another penalty for the host. Velázquez was shown a straight red card and Saja shot again. However, this time the ball hit the left post defended by Juan Carlos Olave and Saja failed to seal a perfect day for him.
Racing finally found its second goal two minutes before the end of the match, when substitute Gabriel Hauche received the ball inside the box from Viola and sent it home.
“The important thing was to win the game, especially after losing many of them. I think we’ve played better in other games in the tournament, but we did not win those,” said Merlo. “I asked the players to do their best during the match to get the three points. Now, we must improve because there is still a long way to go.”
Racing played with: Saja; Esteban Saveljich, Yonathan Cabral, Matías Cahais, Claudio Corvalán; Villar, Bruno Zuculini, Gastón Campi, Rodrigo de Paul; Luciano Vietto and Viola.
Belgrano’s team was: Olave; Pier Barrios, Lollo, Lucas Aveldaño, Juan Quiroga; Emiliano Rigoni, Guillermo Farré, Esteban González, Jorge Velázquez; César Pereyra and Fernando Márquez.
In Rosario, Sebastián Abreu, with a penalty, and Walter Acuña scored in Rosario Central’s 2-0 victory over All Boys at home.
Miguel Ángel Russo’s side ended a negative run of five matches without wins, while All Boys continued with its irregular season, but it is still out of the relegation zone.
At the Diego Armando Maradona stadium in La Paternal, Argentinos Juniors and Newell’s Old Boys drew 0-0 in a boring game.
Newell’s was satisfied with the points as it used most of its reserve players because it competed in the Libertadores Cup on Thursday. Argentinos could not find the way to turn around its poor performances and continue in the relegation zone.
Today, Godoy Cruz hosts Arsenal at 3pm, San Lorenzo visits Gimnasia (LP) at 5pm, River Plate plays at home against Lanús at 6.15pm and Boca Juniors travels to Quilmes at 9.30pm.
Herald with agencies