The points were shared on Saturday night as Racing came from behind to snatch a draw from their hosts Velez in the second round of the Argentine Superliga, thanks to second half goals from Nery Dominguez and Ivan Pillud.
Racing entered the Estadio Jose Amalfitani with an unchanged eleven from that which stumbled through a scoreless draw with Union de Santa Fe last Friday night to kick off the Argentine league season.
Velez lost their opening fixture last weekend 1-0 away to Talleres de Córdoba, but they started the game full of fight and confidence ready to take the battle to the Argentine Champions.
Neither side had a proper foothold in the game through the first twenty or so minutes, with both teams’ efforts amounting to little more than half chances. The best of these half chances fell to Racing, a high tempo break saw Solari square to Cristaldo but his laid off ball was placed just over the bar by Zaracho.
Racing looked to wrestle control of the game from Velez for the next ten minutes, but with little more to show for it than some nice free kick routines between Matias Rojas and Licha Lopez.
Overall in the first half, Velez looked the more threatening of the sides. Racing were ponderous on the ball in their own half, slow to regroup in defence and criminally sloppy with their passing from the back.
The hosts broke the deadlock in the 33rd minute, a fast paced lay to take full advantage of Racing’s abysmal defending. Guidara hit a cross field ball to Dominguez on the edge of the Racing area, Dominguez controlled it brilliantly on the outside of his right boot before thundering home a perfect shot with his left, high into the top corner.
Racing looked to fight back, but as earlier had nothing to show for their efforts and their lax passing would cost them again.
Velez were on the scoresheet again in the 42nd minute. Racing were dreadfully out of shape but had possession at the back with Diaz. Diaz hit a dreadfully weak pass to the feet of Velez’s Bouzat who ran at the scrambling Academia defence before squaring the ball across the face of goal for Maxi Romero to scramble it home at the far post.
The first half finished with that scoreline, with Racing not having had a single shot on target and looking woefully second best to a jubilant Velez Sarsfield.
Racing made the first substitution ten minutes into the second half replacing Rojas with Montoya and the sub had an immediate impact. Montoya swung in a perfect corner that was headed goalwards by Zaracho and stabbed home by Nery Dominguez who scored Racing’s first goal of the season and his first for the club.
Nestor Pitana, one of the most experienced and respected referees in the world, had a tough time controlling the game as Velez in particular upped the physicality in trying to secure their victory.
It was super-sub Montoya who was the ultimate victim of this rough treatment. Scythed down by Cufre, the right winger fell awkwardly on his arm and left the game with a shoulder injury that looked potentially serious.
Montoya’s replacement Dario Cvitanich did not waste much time getting involved in the action as the clock ticked away and Racing’s chance at pulling out a victory dwindled. Velez, happy to sit and defend their lead were doing a good job of it and it would take a moment of magic to let Racing have a sniff of goal.
Luckily for Racing, they have a magician and his name is Ivan Alexis Pillud. Cvitanich collected the ball in the midfield and spotted the lung bursting run of the right back Pillud, who had once again worked tirelessly down the right flank all night with little reward for his efforts. Cvitanich played the perfect cross field ball and Pillud controlled it magnificently and deftly finished beyond the on rushing Hoyos to secure Racing a point and send the visiting fans into rapture, with just three minutes left in the game.
The final minutes were a chaotic mess as Velez desperately tried to steal a late winner and Racing fought tooth and nail to keep their point, which they did when Pitana, mercifully, blew up for full time after four minutes added time.
Velez will no doubt wonder how they let three points slip here and Racing will have some major questions to answer, but for the moment, all Racing fans will sit back and rejoice in the success of our cult hero. Ivan Pillud is every Racing fan on the pitch and now, after so long, has every Racing fan behind him.
Velez (DT: G Heinze) 4-3-3
Hoyos; Guidara, Giannetti, Abram, Cufre; Dominguez(Robertone), Gimenez, Aldames; Bouzat, Romero (Fernandez), Almada (Janson)
Racing (DT. E Coudet) 4-1-3-2
Arias; Pillud, Dominguez, Sigali, Soto; Diaz; Solari, Zaracho, Rojas(Montoya (Cvitanich)); Cristaldo, Lopez