BUENOS AIRES - Argentine giants River
Plate sank to the lowest ebb in their 110-year existence when a
2-1 home defeat by Lanus on Saturday plunged them into a play-off
for top-flight survival.
River, record 33 times league champions and never relegated,
will meet Nacional B (second division) side Belgrano over two
legs in the relegation-promotion play-offs after substitute
Leandro Diaz scored a stoppage-time winner at a packed
Striker Silvio Romero put Lanus, who finished the Clausura
championship second to champions Velez Sarsfield, ahead on the
half hour with a low shot into the bottom corner from the edge
of the box.
River equalised two minutes after half-time when teenage
midfielder Erik Lamela turned in right-back Paulo Ferrari's
cross, sparking a frenetic series of attacks by the home team.
Lamela and striker Leandro Caruso missed chances to win the
match for River before Diaz's sucker punch, a superb shot inside
the far post beyond diving Argentina goalkeeper Juan Pablo
Huracan, beaten 5-1 by Independiente, and Gimnasia finished
with the same three-season points averages and must meet to
decide which team is relegated and which faces a Nacional B side
in a play-off.
Gimnasia, who had gone two goals up, were held 2-2 at home
in La Plata by Boca Juniors after conceding a late equaliser by
defender Cristian Cellay from a header by Martin Palermo in the
striker's last match before retiring.
Quilmes, who lost 1-0 at home to Olimpo, were relegated.
River will meet Belgrano away in Cordoba on Wednesday with
the return in Buenos Aires the following Sunday.
Relegation is decided on points averages over three seasons,
with River paying for their poor results in 2008/09 and for
taking only four points from their last seven matches in the
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