BUENOS AIRES - Striker Rodrigo Lopez
scored twice as Estudiantes beat Arsenal 2-0 to win the
Argentine Apertura championship for their fifth league title
Uruguayan Lopez headed both goals in the final 16 minutes
as Estudiantes retained a two-point lead over Velez Sarsfield,
who also won 2-0 away to Racing Club in their final match.
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It was a nervous finish for Estudiantes with Velez taking
a 23rd minute lead at Racing Club through striker Juan Manuel
Martinez and increasing it to two goals when midfielder Maxi
Moralez converted a free-kick in the 57th.
A win for Velez and a draw for Estudiantes would have
taken the teams into a title play-off since goal difference is
not taken into account.
Arsenal goalkeeper Cristian Campestrini had an excellent
game before finally succumbing when Lopez, who had come on in
the second half for injured captain Juan Sebastian Veron,
headed home from a corner in the 74th minute.
Former Velez striker Lopez, who has seen little action
this season due to injury, added another header two minutes
from time then earned himself a yellow card for taking off his
shirt in wild celebration.
"You have to give these players a standing ovation. We had
lots of problems with injured and exhausted players but they
managed to overcome them and the merit (of this title) is
entirely theirs," coach Alex Sabella told reporters.
It is Sabella's second crown as Estudiantes coach after
steering them to the Libertadores Cup, the South American
title, last year.
It is the second time, including 2006, that Estudiantes
have won the league title with Veron as captain. The club won
their first title in 1967 with his father Juan Ramon Veron and
Carlos Bilardo in the team.
Bilardo, who went on to become Argentina coach, steered
them to two more titles in 1982 and 1983 with Sabella in
Velez, widely regarded as the best team of the
championship, have Uruguayan striker Santiago Silva as the top
scorer with 11 goals, one more than team mate Martinez.
Silva could be overtaken, however, with seven matches
still to be played, two later on Sunday and five on Monday.
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