Cristaldo brace helps Velez maintain pace

BUENOS AIRES - Jonathan Cristaldo scored twice as title holders Velez Sarsfield heaped more misery on Huracan to remain in touch with leaders Estudiantes in the Argentine Apertura championship on Sunday.

Striker Cristaldo's second goal in the 2-0 win was a brilliant overhead kick from the edge of the box that dipped in over the keeper.

Cash-strapped Huracan, who lost the Clausura title by a point to Velez in July, sit bottom of the Apertura on a single point from six matches having lost half their first team in the close season.

Juan Sebastian Veron's Estudiantes opened a two-point lead with a 2-1 victory over struggling giants Boca Juniors on Saturday.

South American champions Estudiantes have 16 points, two more than Velez and Banfield, who beat Newell's Old Boys 2-1 on Friday.

Boca have five points, the same as their equally troubled arch-rivals River Plate, who squandered a two-goal lead by conceding twice in the last seven minutes to Gimnasia-La Plata in a 2-2 home draw.

River's 35-year-old former World Cup forward Ariel Ortega pulled a leg muscle and will miss out on a first international appearance in six years in Wednesday's friendly against Ghana in Cordoba.

Independiente beat Racing Club 2-1 away in their derby, the biggest in the country after Boca-River, in the Buenos Aires suburb of Avellaneda.

Following a superb ticker-tape welcome for Racing by their light blue and white clad fans, it was the Reds of Independiente who were the better side in the first half.

With some brilliant counter-attacking play, Independiente forged ahead with two goals by striker Dario Gandin in the opening half hour and could have had more.

Independiente coach Americo Gallego, a World Cup winner with Argentina in 1978, boasted afterwards: "We looked like Barcelona."

However, Racing took control in the second half and following midfielder Damian Ledesma's 48th minute goal were unlucky not to get an equaliser.