Soccer-Chichizola penalty saves keeps River in title hunt

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By Rex Gowar BUENOS AIRES, May 5 (Reuters) - River Plate goalkeeper Leandro Chichizola saved a late penalty to secure a thrilling 3-2 win over Racing Club that put his team joint top of the Argentine first division on Sunday. River and Gimnasia are neck and neck on 31 points apiece with two matches to go in the Final championship after the side from La Plata were held 0-0 at Lanus. If the pair win their remaining matches there will be a title playoff because goal difference is not taken into account. The two are two points ahead of Estudiantes and Godoy Cruz. River midfielder Ariel Rojas gave away the penalty four minutes into added time when he stunned a packed Monumental by blocking a header with his arm. Racing goalkeeper Sebastian Saja, his team's joint top scorer with three goals from penalties, took the spot kick but Chichizola dived to his left and blocked it. Substitute Valentin Viola went for the rebound with a diving header but the ball skimmed over the bar to the relief of the River fans. "As a kid you dream of moments like that," Chichizola, who also saved a penalty in a 0-0 draw at Estudiantes three weeks ago, told reporters. "We'd have ended up out of everything (if the penalty had gone in)," he said referring to the title race. "Now it's hugely important to win at Argentinos (Juniors next weekend)." River captain Fernando Cavenaghi ended a personal seven-match goal drought with two goals, his first a 24th-minute penalty to put his team ahead. Midfielder Diego Villar headed Racing's 38th-minute equaliser from a Rodrigo de Paul free kick but Carlos Carbonero restored River's lead before halftime, rifling a shot from the edge of the box into Saja's net. Cavenaghi put River two goals ahead with a neat backheel from Colombian winger Carbonero's low right cross early in the second half. Striker Gabriel Hauche hauled Racing back into the match by making the score 3-2 in the 72nd minute with a fine finish to a fast counter-attack. River centre back Jonathan Maidana was sent off on the stroke of 90 minutes for bringing down Viola on the edge of the box as the match went into its dramatic denouement. It was River's seventh home win in a row and the first during that spell in which they conceded any goals. River are looking for a record 35th league title and first since 2008, while Gimnasia are dreaming of their maiden crown. (Editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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