Racing Club 1
Newell’s Old Boys 1
🏟️ El Cilindro, Avellaneda
These days, it seems like there’s a new injury announced daily at Frank Kudelka’s Newell’s Old Boys and his team didn’t escape from Avellaneda without another name to add to the ever-growing list of absentees. Pablo Pérez, superb since returning to Newell’s, is facing three weeks on the sidelines following his substitution due to injury on 68 minutes.
However, all is not lost for the Newell’s coach who remains unbeaten in 2020. With both teams looking up at the Copa Libertadores spots in the Superliga, it was the away side who had the first real chance. After a superb long ball from Cristian Lema to pick him out, Sebastian ‘Tucu‘ Palacios (‘Tucu’ refers to his birthplace of Tucumán) had an audacious lob bounce off the bar and then down towards the line. Unfortunately for Newell’s, it didn’t go over. Although they looked comfortable in possession, that was the best that La Lepra could muster in the first-half. However, they went into the break a goal behind against the run of the play. Iván Pillud’s dangerous cross caused havoc in the Newell’s box and after a scrappy clearance, Leonel Miranda blasted a shot through the hands of Alan Aguerre to grab his first goal of the season for Racing on 38 minutes.
Newell’s rallied in the second half. Big Cristian Lema rose high from Braian Rivero’s hopeful cross to force a fantastic save from Gabriel Arias in the Racing goal. Four minutes later though, he was picking the ball out of the net when Sebastian Palacios broke at ferocious speed up the field after Newell’s had quickly cleared a Racing corner. With Racing’s last man left flat on the ground, stunned by the former Independiente man’s turn of pace, Tucu was left one-on-one with Arias just seconds after Racing were in the ascendency. He finished cooly from the edge of the box as Arias rushed out to bring La Lepra level with 24 minutes to play.
Both teams had chances to win it in the final quarter and it could have easily been a big three points for Racing were it not for the heroics of Newell’s goalkeeper Alan Aguerre. While Leal hit a shot badly wide at the other end, Aguerre made a leaping save to deny a spectacular effort from ex-Manchester City man Benjamín Garré. He also made himself huge to stop Matías Zaracho grabbing a winner.
As the entertainment drew to a close, it was that man Sebastian Palacios for Newell’s who nearly capped off an impressive performance with his second goal. Just as his equaliser had played out, he broke again from a Racing corner, galloping up the other end with the ball in his stride. Running on empty, his legs just about took him into the box but he didn’t have enough to accurately finish and dragged his shot wide of the far post.
Frank Kudelka can be proud of his team’s performance against a Racing side who are experiencing a good run of form themselves under new coach Sebastián Beccacece. On another day, with absentees Formica, Cacciabue, Gabrielli and Moreno restored, Newell’s might have won this one.
La Lepra now look forward to a home game to finish the Superliga season against one of the poorest sides in this year’s league, Godoy Cruz. With the Copa Superliga, which runs between March and June, set to define relegation and continental spots, a revitalised Newell’s Old Boys may now be looking forward to grabbing a spot in the Copa Libertadores rather than looking behind at the threat of relegation as has been the case for most of this season.