BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - The proud footballing suburb of Avellaneda was licking its wounds on Sunday after its two big teams, Independiente and Racing Club, were both crushed 4-0 in the Argentine league championship.
Independiente, with high hopes after their promotion, conceded four goals in the second half against leaders Velez Sarsfield at their Libertadores de America ground in a second successive defeat on Saturday.
Striker Lucas Pratto, whom Velez hung on to despite efforts by title holders River Plate to sign him last month, gave Velez a two-goal lead to take his tournament tally to three.
“I’d like to be the (championship) top scorer but we’ve lost 14 goals with Mauro Zarate’s departure,” Pratto said referring to his former strike partner who left Velez for West Ham United in England. “We need to replace that quantity of goals.”
Midfielder Leonardo Rolon scored the third with what is known in South America as an Olympic goal, curling the ball into the net directly from a corner, and substitute Lucas Romero completed the rout.
“I’m to blame because I’m the soul of this team,” said Independiente coach Jorge Almiron. “They were better than us in everything.... (but) we’ll recover.”
Velez are the only team with a maximum nine points after three rounds of matches. Godoy Cruz or River can edge to within two points of Velez if one of them wins their clash in Mendoza on Sunday.
Racing, whose busy off-season recruiting included the return of striker Diego Milito, made a fine start to the tournament with two wins and had fans dreaming of the title but were brought down to earth in a 4-0 rout at Tigre on Friday.
There was last-minute drama for both the Rosario teams in their matches on Saturday.
Rosario Central beat Gimnasia 2-1 at home with a penalty in stoppage time by defender Rafael Delgado and neighbours Newell’s Old Boys were held 3-3 at home by Gimnasia.
Newell’s were 3-2 up against Belgrano with Maxi Rodriguez’s second penalty in the 87th minute but the visitors snatched a point when substitute Emiliano Rigoni scored their third equaliser of a yo-yo match at the Marcelo Bielsa stadium.
Writing by Rex Gowar; editing by Martyn Herman