Getting serious

The first two-thirds of the fixture list for this weekend passed without too much to write home about, San Lorenzo picking up an easy win away to Central, Independiente brushing Olimpo aside with ease and only Argentinos Juniors’ 4-0 tonking of Newell’s raising any real eyebrows – and even then with the proviso that the losers are in real danger of relegation now. And then came Sunday, and River Plate’s visit to Tigre.

Having lost 1-0 to a rather ordinary Botafogo side in Rio on Wednesday, River’s bad away form continued, but no-one was quite expecting their run without an away victory to get quite this inept. In a match which kicked off at 11am due to security concerns, the visitors had Ariel Ortega and René Lima both sent off, Chilean wunderkid Alexis Sánchez stretchered off with what could be a very serious injury, and – here’s the really humiliating part – lost 4-1 to the newly promoted hosts, who are now in 4th place, five behind Independiente and two ahead of River.

Román Martínez, Matías Giménez (with a clear handball which was seen by everyone but the ref) and Néstor Ayala on two ocassions, the second of which came after Marco Rubén had grabbed the visitors’ consolation. Tigre are serious about Primera A – and River’s problems away from home seem to be just as deep.

Abroad, or rather right here in Barcelona, where I’m typing from, Leo Messi was man of the match and is today the talk of Catalunya after steering Barcelona to an agonising 2-1 victory over a surprisingly weak Sevilla side in Ronaldinho’s absence on Saturday night, scoring twice late on (the second from a penalty) before Freddie Kanouté got a stoppage time consolation for the visitors. For my view of the penalty, have a look here. Barça’s next match – which I’ll probably be attending in order to write about it here – is against the Argentine-laden Real Zaragoza, for whom Roberto Ayala, Andrés D’Alessandro and Pablo Aimar will be hoping to do rather better than their former club did in Tigre today.

And Carlos Tevez got off the mark for Manchester United, taking to the big game like… well, like Carlos Tevez to a big game, frankly, because derbies for Boca and Corinthians were always his happiest matches. Against the newly Mourinho-less Chelsea he opened the scoring at Old Trafford with a frankly slightly suicidal header before Louis Saha’s late penalty made it 2-0.

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