Banfield claimed their first ever Argentine league title on Sunday, despite a 2-0 loss at Boca Juniors.
Newell’s Old Boys, who trailed Banfield by two points entering the final round, missed their title chance after going down 2-0 at San Lorenzo. A victory for Newell’s combined with Banfield’s defeat at La Bombonera would have given Newell’s their sixth championship.
Banfield were founded in 1896 by English, Irish and Scottish immigrants, so this success is long overdue.
“We lost today, but without a doubt we were the best. There’s no doubt we deserved the championship,” Banfield coach Julio Cesar Falcioni said.
Falcioni noted that Banfield conceded only 11 goals – four fewer than Newell’s – and had the league’s top scorer in Santiago Silva of Uruguay with 14.
“There’s no arguing about the numbers,” Falcioni said. “We were the best.”
Banfield’s celebration was set for their own stadium – across town in Buenos Aires.
“We don’t want to celebrate here on the field out of respect to Boca,” said Banfield player James Rodriguez, an 18-year-old Colombian known as “Jesse James” for his sharp shooting. “But in the dressing room, it’s crazy.”
Newell’s missed a wonderful opportunity, and every one seemed to know it.
“It’s very sad, above all because of the way the season ended,” Newell’s coach Roberto Sensini said. “Ending with a loss. We had a lot of hopes, but we couldn’t win.”
Boca Juniors and River Plate, the league’s two most high-profile teams, finished in the bottom half of the 20-team league. Boca finished with 27 points and River Plate ended the season with just 21 points in 13th place.
Six teams from Argentina have qualified for the Copa Libertadores. Estudiantes qualify as the defending champions. Velez get a spot as the 2009 Clausura champions. Banfield, Newell’s, Lanus and Colon claim the other spots.