Red cards and poor time keeping

Boca, who went into the weekend second bottom in the table, beat top-of-the-table Vélez. Second placed River played their worst game of the tournament, failed to score, but still went top.

At the same time, the Millionaires are in the relegation playoff zone. Lanús had four, or maybe five, chances to score in the space of just over 10 seconds but failed. Tigre hadn’t won in three, but then scored three to take three points. Choy Gonzalez juggled the ball 3 times to get around poor Leonel Galeano to score the goal of the weekend.

Arsenal, who really couldn’t be much further removed from their cockney namesakes, are second in the table. Godoy Cruz, meanwhile, are the second-best placed team to qualify for next year’s Libertadores competition.

In and amongst these anecdotes, curiosities, symmetries and golazos from the weekend, however, the dark side of Argentine football was on show. Indiscipline.

There were eight red cards, and only nine games were played. The La Plata derby between Estudiantes and Gimnasia was postponed - few games are guaranteed to add to the tally of bookings and expulsions, even if – bizarrely – the infamous bad boys of Argentine football, Estudiantes, are in fact the cleanest side in Argentine top flight right now with a clean-kneed two yellow cards in the league.

Racing had two sent off. So did All Boys. So too did Colón. Boca and Vélez somehow failed to produce a red card despite the growling and stern looks, but Godoy Cruz kept the tally up with a single red card. Lanús, meanwhile, had a man sent off, but ended the game with 11 on the pitch.

¡¿Cómo?!

A fresh, yet pervasive, evil has been identified in the game. Under new AFA rules, punctuality is a top priority - so much so, that this new rule about punctuality came into effect on Matchday 4.

The regulation states that if teams are not out to start the second half 15 minutes after the end of the first, the coach – who is ultimately in charge of the team – will be sent off.

If said coach displays recidivist tendencies, he will be handed a lengthy ban.

So it is that in the second match of the weekend, the high-pressure derby of the south, Lanús against Banfield, the home side came out late. Approximately 90 seconds late.

Luis Zubeldía, the 29 year old granate coach, was duly sent off.

‘At last!’ exclaimed the Twitterati. ‘A rule that is enforced!’

Half times have become something of an issue in the Fútbol Para Todos era, with the public broadcaster putting a timer up in the corner of our screens the second the first period of play is up.

In the old days, under the former broadcaster, there were insidious suggestions and allegations that the breaks lasted longer than they should to allow extra advertising seconds.

Under the new contract, with the government broadcasting all top flight games free on public television, that scourge would be consigned to history.

The only problem is that it wasn ’t. The timer in the top corner simply gave us all a more accurate idea of just how long we were waiting for play to recommence – hitting the 20-21 minute mark was very common.

Efforts to improve aspects of the game are perfect, and we should applaud them, which we do. Time-keeping was pathetically poor. This issue, however, seems to be low down on most fans’ wish list of improvement to the game.

Diving, time-wasting and two-footed tackles are a fair bit higher.

Either way, rules are there to be broken, and time-keeping being what it is in this country, Luis Zubeldía will do doubt be joined by other coaches in the forthcoming weeks. They can’t say they weren’t warned.

ResultsHuracán 1-1 Newell’sLanús 0-0 BanfieldTigre 3-0 QuilmesColón 1-3 Godoy CruzSan Lorenzo 3-1 All BoysIndependiente 1-2 ArsenalArgentinos 0-0 RiverBoca 2-1 VélezOlimpo 1-0 RacingEstudiantes v Gimnasia (to be played 29/09/10)

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