Independiente coach Gallego admits relegation worries
Independiente coach America Gallego conceded his club have been drawn into a relegation battle after their 2-1 defeat to Boca Juniors at La Bombonera on Sunday.
Boca stayed top of the Argentine standings by a point from Newell’s Old Boys, who beat San Lorenzo 1-0 at home in Rosario to leave another of Argentina’s big clubs worrying about relegation early in the season.
“Times are hard,” Gallego told reporters just two days after saying he was paying no attention to his side’s position at the bottom of the relegation standings.
Relegation in Argentina is determined by a team’s average points over three seasons. If a team’s results in two campaigns are poor, relegation can be a realistic concern from the start of a season.
Independiente languish at the foot of the relegation standings even though they are one from bottom of the present championship table.
The last three teams in the relegation standings go down at the end of the season in June. San Lorenzo are presently four from bottom.
“We keep dropping lower without getting results ... I’m not happy, we were Boca’s equals,” Gallego said.
“We made an analysis of the first half (at the interval) and promised we would overrun and pressure them in the second, and they scored within a minute. There’s no magic answer to that.”
Boca recovered from an own goal by defender Matias Caruzzo.
Shaven-headed Uruguayan striker Santiago “Tank” Silva equalised midway through the first half and the winner came one minute into the second half from midfielder Juan Sanchez Mino.
River Plate, who were relegated 15 months ago, are struggling to find their game back in the top flight and lost 2-0 at third-placed Velez Sarsfield, who are two points behind Boca.
The match was interrupted for eight minutes when River fans, angry with their team’s poor play, tried to break down perimeter fencing and were doused with police hoses.
In Rosario, striker Ignacio Scocco converted a late penalty to give Newell’s victory and spark a characteristic rant from hot-headed San Lorenzo coach Ricardo Caruso Lombardi.
Caruso, angry at the handball decision given against defender Abel Masuero, said referee Nestor Pitana had not even seen the incident and was influenced by the home crowd at the Marcelo Bielsa stadium.
“You can’t give a penalty like that, Masuero didn’t see the ball, it hit him,” said Caruso, who had to be restrained by police when he tried to approach Pitana after the final whistle.
“The crowd screamed penalty, the fans won this match, (the referee) took his cue from what he heard, he didn’t even see the play,” added Caruso, who later admitted Newell’s were much the better team.