* San Lorenzo beaten at home by promoted Banfield
* Lose second match since Libertadores Cup victory
* Independiente and Racing both crushed 4-0 (Releads with San Lorenzo defeat)
BUENOS AIRES, Aug 24 (Reuters) - San Lorenzo lost 2-0 at home to Banfield on Sunday, four days after a pilgrimage to The Vatican to show off the Libertadores Cup to their most famous fan, Pope Francis.
The Saints fell to two good goals by promoted Banfield, who won for the first time, and are bottom of the Argentine league standings with no points from two matches having lost at Racing the previous weekend.
There were tepid celebrations in atrocious weather at a half full Nuevo Gasometro for San Lorenzo's first victory in South America's top club competition 11 days ago. The mood was not helped by the team having lost so many leading players.
Defender Santiago Gentiletti has moved to Lazio, midfielder Ignacio Piatti to Montreal Impact and playmaker Leandro Romagnoli is trying to negotiate his way out of an unwanted deal with Bahia having signed a pre-contract with the Brazilian club.
Midfielder Juan Mercier, one of the South American champions' best players during their Cup run, was sent off for a second booking for dissent six minutes from time.
Paraguayan striker Santiago Salcedo put Banfield ahead just after halftime and Ecuadorean midfielder Juan Cazares made sure of the points with a sweet lob over goalkeeper Sebastian Torrico in added time.
Buenos Aires' proud footballing suburb of Avellaneda, meanwhile, was licking its wounds after its two big teams, Independiente and Racing Club, were both crushed 4-0.
Independiente, with high hopes after their promotion, conceded four goals in the second half against leaders Velez Sarsfield at their Libertadores de America ground in a second successive defeat on Saturday.
Striker Lucas Pratto, whom Velez hung on to despite efforts by title holders River Plate to sign him last month, gave Velez a two-goal lead to take his tournament tally to three.
"I'd like to be the (championship) top scorer but we've lost 14 goals with Mauro Zarate's departure," Pratto said referring to his former strike partner who left Velez for West Ham United in England. "We need to replace that quantity of goals."
Midfielder Leonardo Rolon scored the third with what is known in South America as an Olympic goal, curling the ball into the net directly from a corner, and substitute Lucas Romero completed the rout.
Velez are the only team with a maximum nine points after three rounds of matches. Godoy Cruz or River can edge to within two points of Velez if one of them wins their clash in Mendoza later on Sunday (0030 GMT).
Racing, whose busy off-season recruiting included the return of striker Diego Milito, made a fine start to the tournament with two wins and had fans dreaming of the title but were brought down to earth in a 4-0 rout at Tigre on Friday.
There was last-minute drama for both the Rosario teams in their matches on Saturday.
Rosario Central beat Gimnasia 2-1 at home with a penalty in stoppage time by defender Rafael Delgado and neighbours Newell's Old Boys were held 3-3 at home by Gimnasia.
Newell's were 3-2 up against Belgrano with Maxi Rodriguez's second penalty in the 87th minute but the visitors snatched a point when substitute Emiliano Rigoni scored their third equaliser of a yo-yo match at the Marcelo Bielsa stadium. (Writing by Rex Gowar; editing by Martyn Herman)
- Sports & Recreation
- South America