Due to the complexities of the Argentine relegation system a number of playoffs were needed to determine which of the teams finishing between 17th and 19th in the 2010-11 relegation table would suffer relegation.
The first game was between Gimnasia y Esgrima de La Plata and Huracán who finished on identical points averages either side of the automatic relegation line. The losers would be automatically relegated while the winners would face a two legged playoff against San Martín de San Juan who finished 3rd in Primera B Nacional.
The other two legged playoff would feature never previously relegated River Plate who finished 17th in the relegation table against Belgrano de Córdoba who finished 4th in B Nacional.
|Gimnasia y Esgrima (LP)||2-0||Huracán|
|Winner: Gimnasia y Esgrima (LP)|
The disempate was played at Boca Juniors Bombonera stadium and as expected Huracán continued their dismal run of form with a 2-0 defeat meaning that they suffered automatic relegation while Gimnasia found themselves facing their 3rd relegation playoff in three seasons. In 2009 and 2010 they survived epic encounters with Atlético Rafaela, who ascended to the Primera as champions of Primera B Nacional in 2011.
|Belgrano de Córdoba||2-0||River Plate|
|River Plate||1-1||Belgrano de Córdoba|
|Winner: Belgrano de Córdoba (River Plate relegated)|
Belgrano left River Plate on the brink of their first ever relegation with a 2-0 home win in the first leg meaning that River would need a two goal margain of victory in the return leg in order to remain in the Primera Division. Cesar Mansanelli put the hosts ahead with a first half penalty and Cesar Pereyra put them a step closer to the Primera División with a goal early in the second half prompting a pitch invasion from the River Plate fans who berrated their own players. Belgrano held on for the two goal win and had AFA handed out a similar punishment to those they had to other teams for pitch invasions and violence from fans this season, River could have ended up playing the return leg behind closed doors. Predictably the Argentine football autorities decided to ignore the pitch invasion and allow the River Plate fans to support their team in the most important league match in their history.
River needed to win the second leg by two clear goals in order to stay in the Primera División and they got off to the perfect start with a goal from Mariano Pavone after only five minutes. Belgrano got the ball into River's net in the first half however it was correctly disallowed for offside. River were the more composed side for the remainder of the first half and created the better goalscoring chances however they couldn't find the vital second goal before half time.
In the second half Belgrano striker Cesár Pereyra misser a one-on-one with River goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo but some shambolic defending from the home team gifted an equaliser to Guillermo Farré. Mariano Pavone had a chance to pull one back from the penalty spot but he chose power instead of accuracy and his shot was easily saved by Belgrano goalkeeper Juan Olave. River never really got close to finding the two goals they needed and with a few minutes to go referee Sergio Pezzota was forced to abandon the game due to rioting amongst the River Plate fans. It seems that the rioting fans were completely unaware of what happened in Gimnasia's playoff two years ago when they were playing 9 vs 11 and found the two goals they needed to survive in the dying minutes.
After the referee abandoned the match a large number of River Plate hooligans set about attacking the police and destroying their own stadium, while innocent River Plate fans and Belgrano supporters found themselves trapped inside the stadium waiting for the situation to calm down.
|San Martín (SJ)||1-0||Gimnasia y Esgrima (LP)|
|Gimnasia y Esgrima (LP)||1-1||San Martín (SJ)|
|Winner: San Martín SJ (Gimnasia relegated)|
San Martín won the first leg 1-0 with after Oliver Paz Benítez deflected a shot from San Martín's Brazilian striker Roberval into his own net. Considering Gimnasia's amazing escape against Atlético Rafaela two years ago few San Martín players could have been fully confident that a one goal advantage would be enough however Sebastian Penco calmed their nerves with a goal in the early minutes of the second leg to open up a two goal advantage. Things got worse for the home side midway through the second half when Milton Casco got himself sent off but José Vizcarra gave them a lifeline with a goal one minute later. Sebastián Penco was sent off with around a quarter of an hour remaining setting up a tense finale however San Martín held on for a famous aggregate win to return to the Primera División for the first time since 2008.
This result meant that the Primera División lost 4 teams from Buenos Aires and Buenos Aires Province and all of their replacements came from the interior, welcome diversification of the Argentine top flight. On the down side it meant that the Primera lost three of it's big derby games (Superclásico, San Lorenzo/Hurcán and Clásico Platense) and will only feature two big derby games next year (Clásico Avellaneda & Clásico Santafesino).
After the final whistle there were a few tears amongst the Gimnasia players and fans however they generally conducted themselves with dignity and scenes like the rampage after River's relegation at the weekend were avoided. There were two main factors in this, Gimnasia have been flirting with relegation for three years and in their hearts most Gimnasia fans must recognise that their team simply hasn't been good enough to deserve to survive a 3rd consecutive relegation playoff and the other factor is that they all witnessed what happened at River at the weekend and what a shitstorm of criticism it provoked and wished to avoid dragging the image of their club through the mud too.