BUENOS AIRES - Argentinos Juniors, the
modest team that launched a teenage Diego Maradona 34 years ago,
won the Argentina Clausura championship on Sunday.
Argentinos celebrated their third title and first in 25
years after a 2-1 win at Huracan while fans of the home team,
who had had two players sent off, fought with police on the
terraces after the final whistle.
Argentina midfielder Juan Mercier put Argentinos ahead in
the 23rd minute and Facundo Coria ended a sweeping
counter-attack for the second in the 77th. Alan Sanchez pulled
one back for nine-man Huracan with a brilliant goal in the 88th.
Huracan centre back and captain Paolo Goltz was dismissed in
the 66th minute and Pablo Jerez in the 83rd.
"Without a doubt our greatest virtue was that we played very
good football," midfielder Coria told reporters.
Argentinos coach Claudio Borghi, a member of captain
Maradona's 1986 World Cup-winning squad, added the title to
those he lifted as a player with the club in 1984 and 1985.
Fans also caused trouble at Colon, where Estudiantes de La
Plata, the only team who could have snatched the title from
Argentinos, crushed the home side 4-1 with a hat-trick by
striker Mauro Boselli, championship top scorer with 13 goals.
Estudiantes fans, who began throwing stones and other
objects over the high perimeter fence on the pitch near the end
of the match and looking for fights, were doused by powerful
police hoses on a chilly autumn evening.
The reigning South American champions lost their grip on the
championship the previous weekend when they were held 0-0 by
Rosario Central and Argentinos came from 3-1 down to beat
Independiente 4-3 and go a point ahead.
Argentinos finished the 19-match championship with 41
points. Estudiantes took 40, surprise team Godoy Cruz from
Mendoza 37 and Independiente 34.
Banfield, winners of the Apertura in the first half of the
season, finished fifth with 32 points. Apertura runners-up
Newell's Old Boys, the team that took most point overall in the
season without winning a title, were sixth with 30.
The championship stood out too for the poor showing by four
of the big five Buenos Aires teams, notably River Plate and Boca
Juniors, who finished 13th and 16th. Independiente were the
River bowed out in a 5-1 home defeat on Saturday by Tigre,
who had never won before at the Monumental, which doubles as
Argentina's national stadium.
Boca, for whom Juan Roman Riquelme and Martin Palermo had
their off-field differences and shone intermittently on the
pitch, ended up with the worst defence having conceded 35 goals
in their 19 games.
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