Crying for a Victory

At the moment there are few words to explain the emotional low to high of yesterday's match. Starting the match in the direct relegation, San Lorenzo, at home, needed to win again Newell's Old Boys of Rosario - a team at the other side of the table fighting for first place. Few other clubs can claim to have 30 000 supporters when their team sits in the lower middle-half of the table and fighting relegation; the anticipation in the stadium was palpable. Newell's first goal was a deep cut into the spirit of the nearly sold out Nuevo Gasómetro. The second caused hundreds, more likely thousands, of fans to break down into tears. Those who weren't crying were left to sardonic and sarcastic comments about their upcoming chance to 'see Argentina' - a reference to the travelling to the remote teams in the Nacional B tournament. During the 15 minutes between halves it was the only defence for many against the deep depression of facing three more and final matches in the Primera.

What happened next has been described as a 'miracle' and is worth seeing the full 10 minutes of highlights:

Vindication started for the player worthy of a large share of the first half scorn; Emmanuel Gigliotti had been eating up goal scoring chances, unable to put the ball into the back of the net or run more than 10m to win it back. But for every 45 minutes of playing as a 'burro' (mule), he manages to be a striker for an all important moment. He finished with the all important first and third goals.

Carruso, the technical director for San Lorenzo, made the necessary changes during the second-half bringing on "Pipi" Romagnoli - already a Ciclón legend from 2001 and starting on the bench because of a ongoing injury - and Carlos Bueno, the Urguayan striker for defender Alvarado. Buffarini - the ongoing savoir and stadium favourite of San Lorenzo in this tournament - was dropped back into right defence but with the determination to play anywhere on the pitch that gave his team the advantage. Running up the wing, it was Buffarini's perfectly placed cross that led to San Lorenzo's second all important goal off the head of "Charlie Good".

Gigliotti's third goal seemed to come out of the force-of-will of the thousands of supporters jumping and singing in the popular section. An explosive rupture in the tension marked by "GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL" followed; I must have been one of the few within the 30 000 incapable of reacting spontaneously with a river of tears. Friends and complete strangers everywhere, except the completely silent visitor section, were huddled in euphoric embraces, and in some cases precariously tumbling piles of bodies - fear and caution not being emotions worthy of the moment. In the final 8 minutes, the united hinchada of the Butteler sang with every ounce of voice left, only becoming silent minutes after the final whistle when its thousands of vocal chords and emotional highs finally gave out. Even after the gates were opened for the local side, many could not or did not want to leave the stadium, some were still in tears 20 minutes after the match.

San Lorenzo has not been 'saved' - the religious language appropriate for a such-named team of 'suffering' - and has yet to play direct rivals in the fight against relegation: Tigre away in two weeks. A difficult match, politically and footballistically, and without Buffarini, out on five yellow cards. For now, San Lorenzo is living in a miracle but three matches remain. Everyone is as important as a cup final.

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