Don’t ever let anyone tell you that the Peruvian second division is boring. This week, we had a total of 30 goals with an average of 4.29 per match. That is more than the Spanish second division (26 goals at 2.36 per match), and just below the Championship (32 at 2.67 per match). The Southern Hemisphere’s spring seems to be affecting the Peruvian tournament in positive ways.
While one would hope that the high average was due to good matches, it was probably more likely due to the obvious gulf in quality between the teams. This week we had “The Regulars” and “The Amazing.”
Los Caimanes welcomed Deportivo Coopsol at the Municipal de la Juventud to start things off. The game was unfortunately played behind close doors, which did not make a recording of it accessible for us to analyze. From what we can tell, the home side had the advantage at the beginning of the game. Slowly but surely, Coopsol managed to pull ahead via Enzo Borges, who scored in the 24th minute. Los Caimanes fought hard to find the equalizer but were unable to. Both teams are stuck in the middle of the table. Neither one fights for relegation or the playoffs.
Cultural Santa Rosa returned home to their Estadio Los Chankas to a warm welcome from their fans to face Carlos A. Manucci. It took the local government most of the year and about half a million dollars to remodel the stadium, which seemed to be in prime condition for its maiden match. Both entered the pitch, with the Santarosinos only having a slight advantage over the visitors. The only goal came at the end of the match when it seemed that the parity between the two would not be broken.
Mario Tajima proceed to centre the ball with his right foot into the box where Breno Naranjo awaited him. Santa Rosa’s keeper launched himself forward between Naranjo and the defender, Jhen Corahua, in an attempt to deflect the ball with his fists. Unfortunately, the ball bounced from his fists to Corahua’s back and became a very unfortunate own goal. Cultural Santa Rosa’s chance are existent but slim as it isn’t able to shorten the gap between it and the coveted seventh place.
The only draw of the week, a basic 1–1, happened in Huaral where Hualgayoc was able to steal a point from what otherwise is a very difficult visit against Unión Huaral.
The first game of this category was Sport Victoria’s defeat at the hands of Alianza Atlético. Sport Victoria worked hard but was unable to score in the first half. This was not due to a lack of chances, but mostly down to the team’s poor organization. The visiting side re-organized itself during the recess and came back ready to start playing offensively. The first goal came via a set piece that Jorge Ramirez headed over an out-of-place goalie. The next two goals were a penalty from Jair Córdova and Joao García. El Vendaval is still safe within the play-off zone while Sport Victoria continues to save itself from relegation by one point.
Victoria’s relegation adversary, Sport Loreto, visited Atlético Grau at the Miguel Grau in Piura. Los Albos dominated the game for all of the match. Loreto’s defence was both its salvation and the culprit of its demise. The game was a scoreless draw by halftime which in about 20 minutes into the first half saw seven goals. The expulsion of Loreto’s Javier Salazar was the beginning of a spring rain of goals. Yilber Aponzá scored a hattrick, his teammate Gino Navarro scored a duo, and Charles Adibe scored the last. Sport Loreto did also manage to score two with the help of Manuel Olaya yet by the end of the day its fate was sealed.
Vallejo returned to its usual self this week. All its goals trickled in comparison to Grau’s seven. Andy Pando shined throughout this match as he was the author of two goals, one in the 23rd minute and the second on the 59th. Before him, Jeremy Rostaign had scored the first in the 18th. After, Carlos Orejuela and Alexander Sánchez scored two more. The trick was a constant siege from the home team which found Salinas unprepared.
Unfortunately, Cesar Vallejo’s heir apparent, Cienciano destroyed the Famous Thirteen of Pacasmayo who risked life and limb by traveling to Cusco. It is not everyday that you see a game with ten goals, yes, you read that right, ten goals. El Papá started things off early with two goals before the first ten minutes where even through. Ignazio Panzariello, Matías Sen, and José Mesarina where simply wonderful for the locals. Cienciano scored nine goals and Serrato Pacasmayo managed to score one on behalf of all their troubles.
In the end, the table did not move much. The top seven continue to be the same ones while the two aspirants, Grau and Santa Rosa, have not managed to shorten the gap between them and the playoff zone. Alfredo Salinas, Sport Victoria, and Sport Loreto don’t seem to be able to break away from the relegation battle either. Meanwhile Serrato Pacasmayo and the Famous Thirteen still have another two matches before they are relegated mathematically.
Trouble in the Horizon
There is only one fact that unites all teams no matter where on the aggregate table they find themselves, financial problems. The Peruvian FA’s justice committee announced that 12 out of 15 teams would not be eligible to participate in the play-offs if they did not pay off the various debts they had to their players, their taxes, and other obligations to businesses involved in the tournament. This week, ten of 14 clubs played with 15 players or less.
This goes to show how big of a deal the financial problems are. If the play-offs where tomorrow only Cesar Vallejo, Cienciano, and Deportivo Coopsol would be able to participate. Would the organizing committee dare bar everyone else from ascending? The champion of such a small bracket would be promoted automatically and the other two would earn the right to play the promotion play-off against the Copa Perú representatives. Whether these threats will become a reality or not we will only know in a few weeks.