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Soccer-San Lorenzo fail to wrap up title, race goes down to wire

Reuters

By Rex Gowar

BUENOS AIRES, Dec 1 (Reuters) - San Lorenzo missed the chance to sew up the Argentine league title on Sunday after a 0-0 draw with Estudiantes sent the race down to the final round of games.

With Lanus dropping points in a 2-2 draw at home to Boca Juniors, the Saints would have been crowned league champions for the 12th time, and first since 2007, with a win.

Estudiantes hit the bar in the dying minutes of the first half and San Lorenzo were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty in the second but neither team could break the deadlock.

San Lorenzo playmaker Juan Mercier told reporters: "The way we played, we weren't good enough to be champions."

Coach Juan Antonio Pizzi said his team had to focus on their own performance and not worry what their title rivals were doing.

"To be champions we must win, regardless of the other results," said Pizzi. "We're capable of beating any team at any ground."

San Lorenzo go to Velez Sarsfield for their last match holding a two-point lead in the Inicial, the first of two championships in the season.

They have 32 points from 18 matches, two points more than Velez, Lanus and title holders Newell's Old Boys, who lost 3-1 at All Boys on Saturday.

Arsenal, crushed 4-1 by Belgrano on Saturday to lose their unbeaten home record, are still mathematically in the fight on 29 points.

If two teams finish equal on points, there will be a playoff since goal difference is not taken into account.

The last round was scheduled for next weekend but Lanus have obtained a postponement of the key matches because they come in the middle of the two legs of their Copa Sudamericana final against Brazil's Ponte Preta.

The Argentine Football Association announced on its website (www.afa.org.ar) on Sunday that it was postponing two matches -- Velez Sarsfield at home to San Lorenzo and Lanus at Newell's Old Boys -- until Dec. 15.

The remaining final round fixtures will go ahead next weekend as planned.

AFA rules state that a club can ask for the postponement of a league commitment if they have reached a "decisive" match in a continental competition.

Lanus coach Guillermo Barros Scelotto, who had said his team would seek the postponement, rested several first choice players against Boca ahead of Wednesday's Sudamericana final first leg in Sao Paulo.

The return leg of the competition, South America's equivalent of the Europa League, is at Lanus the following Wednesday.

Boca, who have had a disappointing championship, were unable to beat a Lanus side down to 10 men after 52 minutes and nine with eight minutes remaining after two red cards and they are out of the running on 28 points. (Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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