Off the mark

Falcao challenges with Mercado

In his second match in charge, Diego Simeone has his first win as River Plate manager. The Torneo de Verano continued in Salta on Friday night, as Simeone’s side met his former playing club Racing, and won 2-0 thanks to some good play and a couple of red cards for La Academia. Elsewhere, the invitational Copa Ciudad de Tandil continued as Olimpo beat Argentinos.

Simeone’s River side included a few changes from that which took to the pitch against Independiente last week, amongst them the inclusion of Radamel Falcao García, but was most noted for two qualities. One was the experimentation with a 3-3-3-1 formation, which Olé called ‘very European,’ and the other was the ‘superoffensive’ way in which the side was set up.

In the first half, however, it was Racing who started with the better chances, as Falcao found himself isolated up front for River and Paraguayan Erwin Avalos had a good chance for Racing from a corner, before Franco Sosa sent a free kick in which looked good, but was well gathered by Juan Ojeda in the River goal. On the half-hour came Racing’s best chance, as Claudio Fileppi escaped the attentions of Danilo Gerlo before sending a ball in which Chilean striker rose to head at the far post, only to see his attempt cannon back off the crossbar.

River’s three deep forwards – Damián Lizio, Diego Buonanotte and Sebastián Sciorilli – were struggling to make their presence felt against the more experienced Claudio Yacob and Martín Romagnoli in the middle of the park for Racing, whilst Academia midfielder Gabriel Méndez had a good opportunity late in the half to set up Avalos, but instead shot from a narrow angle, and missed.

In the second half, River woke up a little and Falcao found himself more involved, first getting into a good position for a headed chance, and later sending a shot against the post before being called back for offside. Racing then had a good shout for a penalty turned down when Ojeda brought down Navia, and a few minutes later, with just 13 left on the clock, River benefitted again when referee Lunati got one right and gave the Millonarios a penalty which Paulo Ferrari, the man who’d been fouled, tucked away after Gabriel Mercado had walked for the foul.

River swiftly doubled the advantage, Marco Rubén applying a cool finish to a fast-paced counter-attack, and Racing captain Claudio Yacob saw red in the closing moments for a hard challenge in the middle of the pitch. In all, Racing were unlucky to lose – Simeone’s plans were offensive, but River’s players less so, and they were more than a little lucky to get the goals when they eventually came. Football, however, often places little truck with what’s deserved, and for El Cholo, it’ll surely be a relief to have got the first win regardless of the circumstances.

A clash between two of the Primera A’s relegation-threatened sides, meanwhile, produced the second finalist of the Copa Ciudad de Tandil (Cup of the City of Tandil) in Buenos Aires Province. Olimpo de Bahía Blanca beat Argentinos Juniors by a solitary goal from Leandro González after 56 minutes. Roberto Marcos Saporiti’s side will take on Quilmes in the final, after the Cerveceros got past Nueva Chicago on penalties following a 1-1 draw on Thursday night. The final will be on Monday evening, whilst a third-place playoff between Argentinos and Chicago will take place on Sunday at 8pm.

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