River and San Lorenzo kept up their respective records at the start of the season regarding goals: San Lorenzo still haven’t scored, and River still haven’t conceded in the league. Ramón Díaz and Andrés D’Alessandro both returned to the Monumental for an opposing team for the first time and had contrasting receptions from the home crowd, but both were on the end of the defeat all the same, as River kept touch with the early leaders.
Much talk during the week had centred on the reception Díaz could expect after his public rejection of River at the end of last year, but the club’s most successful ever manager needn’t have worried: as soon as he took his place on the bench the home fans started serenading him. D’Alessandro, by contrast, took the kick-off and was roundly booed for preferring San Lorenzo over River when he came back to Argentina last month.
Early on, goal attempts had to wait as the teams tried to take the measure of each other, but Radamel Falco García and Agustín Orión, who’d almost come to blows in the Torneo de Verano match in January, had a meeting before too long as the San Lorenzo ‘keeper went down to smother an attempted cross-shot from the Colombian forward, who’d been put through by Ariel Ortega. In response Juan Manuel Torres fed Néstor Silvera, and the visiting striker half-turned in the box and sent in a shot that Juan Pablo Carrizo easily held.
Just 23 minutes in, D’Alessandro, who was struggling in the hostile atmosphere already, had to leave the pitch after feeling a pain in one of his legs, and as he did so, finally heard some applause from his old fans. Aureliano Torres, also an able attacking player but not exactly in the playmaking mould of D’Alessandro, was the replacement. Four minutes later, it got worse for Díaz’s men, as Falcao beat Cristian Tula to a Matías Abelairas corner and headed strongly past Orión to make it 1-0 to River. San Lorenzo looked out of sorts thereafter and couldn’t force Carrizo into any action in the River goal for the rest of the half.
Eight minutes into a second half River were already dominating, they doubled the lead. Augusto Fernández picked the ball up wide right, spotted Abelairas on the far side and the youngster took the ball down and stroked it past Orión off the post.
Díaz made some adjustments after that but they had little effect, and River had more chances to go further ahead than San Lorenzo had to pull one back. Falco lost out another one-to-one with Orión, Fernández flashed a shot narrowly over after Abelairas had seen the ‘keeper push his attempt into his colleague’s path, and Diego Simeone sent young Chilean wunderkid Alexis Sánchez on to receive his obligatory kicking – this time from Jonathan Bottinelli, who should have been sent off but only got a booking for one particularly hard challenge. Juan Manuel Torres and Adrián González also got bookings for fouls on the little Chilean.
Silvera sent a shot just wide late on for San Lorenzo, but River had long since won and exerted their superiority in this match. The most impressive performance of Simeone’s short stewardship keeps them in touch with Vélez at the top of the table, and leaves Díaz’s team still uncertain about where their goals are going to come from in this championship…