There was a summit meeting tinged with sadness in Liniers on Sunday afternoon, as Vélez Sársfield, top with 13 points but having lost a fan a week ago to the ongoing violence in the country’s footballing climate, hosted River Plate for the right to top the table as the first third of the 2008 Clausura was reached. It was also a clash between two of the last three unbeaten sides left in the competition (Boca Juniors are the other), and now the hosts have lost that record, as River moved to the top with a 2-0 win.
Prior to the match, there was a public tribute from the home fans to Emanuel Alvarez, the Vélez fan killed en route to his side’s match with San Lorenzo last weekend. The home fans wore black t-shirts and the players took to the pitch to loud applause from both sides with banners reading ‘Justice for Emanuel’. Before the match, there was a minute’s silence in tribute.
After that, though, the football had to get underway, and River’s goals came early, as they started out looking to pick Vélez off on the counter-attack. The hosts came forward and saw a couple of chances go begging before Chilean wunderkid Alexis Sánchez (pictured left, celebrating) pounced in the eighth minute, taking advantage of the moment’s lapse in concentration from his marker to latch onto the ball and produce a finish across the face of goal that went in at the far top corner. Two minutes later, Radamel Falco García arrived in the box to double the lead.
Ten minutes gone, and having been the more adventurous side in the opening stages, Vélez suddenly found themselves 2-0 down in front of their own fans. Their gameplan, at least, couldn’t change, and they just kept on attacking. They came unstuck, though, when they encountered the barrier that had been erected to fill River’s goal and keep the ball out of the net: Juan Pablo Carrizo was having an absolute stormer.
Without having the ball for anywhere near as much, River actually looked more dangerous in the first half as a whole. Vélez’s need to throw men forward from such an early stage created a lot of space for River’s forwards, but Mauro Rosales in particular missed a good chance to give the visitors a third. With Diego Buonanotte, Sánchez and Falcao all playing well in Ariel Ortega’s absence through injury, River were demonstrating that as well as being ruthlessly efficient in the early stages, they were also capable of playing a bit of football themselves as the half wore on.
Vélez banged the ball long in increasing desperation, and River’s defence coped easily until the break. In the second half, the hosts attacked with more men and more intelligently, whilst River seemed to lose their way when trying to bring the ball out. The defence, though, were rescued when they let the home side’s forwards slip through by Carrizo’s sterling performance in the net, and the clean sheet was assured. Prior to Boca’s match against Colón, River were top on their own with 15 points.
I realized tonight while watching Futbol de Primera that the kid that was sitting next to me on a flight from Santiago to BA a little over a month ago was Alexis Sanchez. For what it’s worth.:)
Very funny, Johnny!
Really off topic here, but a similar thing happened to me in London.
I went to watch Ray Davies (The Kinks) and as I was queuing waiting for the doors to open, one guy wanted to go through the line and move to the other side of the room. He said: “Excuse me, mate” and so I moved.
He walked 5 metres and started signing autographs. I asked one guy behind me: “Who is he?”
“Paul Weller” he said.
First time I heard of him in my life, but he is a big star in the UK.
Fantastic anecdotes both of you. If any of our regular readers find themselves in close proximity to an Argentine footballer for any length of time (not Paul Weller, though), do feel free to conduct your own interview. I’ll be happy to give it an audience here on HEGS…
i got drunk with paul weller, peter kay and shelly from coronation street in the westbury hotel in dublin last year. wellers sound. i met maradonnas brother in locos para futbol in buenos aires in 06. Does that count??
I hope I didn’t create a monster here. Meeting Maradona’s brother is ok, but since it happened at gawdawful Locos Para Futbol, only half credit.:) Let me know when you meet Peter Green.
I’ve been with Maradona twice!
Back in 93 when he was getting ready to play in USA 94. I was with my brother and some friends at the opening of a car retail shop owned by Claudio García (former Racing Club and Argentina player -he scored in a 2-2 tie with England at Wembley-). I went because all of the Racing squad were going and then all of a sudden Diego showed up! I’ve got a picture -not digital- with him, Claudio García and my brother.
Then in 2000 I was one of the producers of a TV show (SportsCenter – ESPN) and we went to cover the press conference of his 40th birthday.
Since we were only testing our operations we had no rush to get back to the office and so we stayed there after the long conference was over and we got to eat Maradona’s birthday cake!
BEAT THAT, PEOPLE!
Ok big Seba !! I shook hands with Muhammed Ali in 1972. Larger than life !! But, yes not a futbol personality ! (I also beat Ed Pinckney in a game of pool and lost to Johnny Knoxville). :) I once had a shouting contest with Lester Maddox and flipped him off. :) I discussed the Velvet Underground with Lou Reed in a men’s john. I was once flipped off by Russell Crowe for making fun of his attire ! Ah, and I told Jennifer Lopez she had a nice ass !
hahahaha! You beat it! You beat it! But I still have some good 50 years to catch up! hahahaha!
I’ve been in the same room with Roger Federer in Wimbledon a couple of seasons ago but J-Lo beats me hands down!
yes locos para futbol is absolute pants but theres no good pubs in BA to wtach the footie in my opinion. ok im going to finish this argument right now. one of the chuckle brothers gave me his sweat soaked handkerchief after i met them on the hull to rotterdam ferry. end of