Soccer-San Lorenzo start title defence with shock Olimpo defeat

BUENOS AIRES, Feb 8 (Reuters) - San Lorenzo opened the defence of their Argentine league title with a surprise 2-0 defeat at modest Olimpo after conceding two goals in four second-half minutes in Bahia Blanca on Friday.

It was a body blow for the Saints under their new coach Edgardo Bauza four days before they visit Brazil's Botafogo at the Maracana in their opening group match of the Libertadores Cup, their top priority this year.

Striker Ezequiel Miralles opened the scoring in the 68th minute on his Olimpo debut, beating the defenders to a long ball into the box and poking home past goalkeeper Sebastian Torrico.

"Olimpo were giving us a bit of trouble with the long balls but I felt we had everything under control. Then came the move of the first goal and the match was over," Bauza told reporters.

The home side, whose small pitch troubled the visitors, went 2-0 up four minutes later when defender Ivan Furios headed past Torrico from a free kick by midfielder Leonardo Gil.

The dismissal of San Lorenzo central defender Santiago Gentiletti six minutes later for a second yellow card made it even harder for the Saints, winners of the Inicial championship in the first half of the season, to stage a comeback.

San Lorenzo have hired Bauza, who took charge after Inicial-winning coach Juan Antonio Pizzi left for Valencia, for his Libertadores Cup pedigree having led LDU Quito to Ecuador's first title in South America's elite club competition in 2008.

Velez Sarsfield, who are also in the Libertadores Cup, began with a 0-0 draw at home to Tigre in an empty El Fortin stadium with fans banned for one match after crowd trouble against San Lorenzo on the final day of the Inicial in December.

Estudiantes got off to a winning start in La Plata, beating Arsenal 1-0 thanks to an own goal by defender Diego Braghieri, but their coach Mauricio Pellegrino was sent to the stands for dissent by referee Nestor Pitana, who will be on duty at the World Cup finals in Brazil. (Reporting by Rex Gowar; Editing by Sam Holden)