San Lorenzo win through

God must have been smiling on the Saints

With LDU Quito already lying in wait in the quarter-final after knocking out Estudiantes on Tuesday night, River Plate and San Lorenzo met in the Monumental to decide their all-Argentine last sixteen tie and, in a phenomenal match, it was San Lorenzo, the only one of Argentina’s ‘Big Five’ never to have won the Copa Libertadores, who progressed after it finished 2 – 2 in El Monumental. San Lorenzo found themselves two goals and two men down shortly after half time, but rallied to go through in extraordinary fashion.

Trailing 2-1 from the first leg in the Nuevo Gasómetro last week, it was inevitable that River came out all guns blazing at the start, and they’d already had one superb goal disallowed (correctly) for offside by the time they levelled the aggregate score just eleven minutes in, Matías Abelairas claiming it after his right-wing free kick evaded everyone on its way into the net. That goal, which put River ahead in the tie on the away goals rule, obliged San Lorenzo to come out in search of one of their own, and with Diego Simeone’s naturally offensive gameplan River were never going to try and just sit on their lead.

There developed a first half in which the ball swung rapidly from one end to the other, but the main incident was the sending off of Diego Rivero just before half time for taking out an opponent with a horrible challenge. Down by one goal and one man, San Lorenzo were in need of inspiration at the break. Ramón Díaz didn’t appear to have provided it, because in the second half they didn’t improve much at first. River soaked up what pressure the visitors could muster and countered dangerously, and they got their reward when, an hour into the match, Radamel Falcao García chased a ball over the top into the San Lorenzo box and was elbowed in the face by Jonathan Bottinelli. The defender saw red for the foul and River, of course, had a penalty, which Sebastián Abreu comfortably tucked away to put his side 2-0 up on the night against ten men, 3-2 ahead on aggregate, and through the last eight with half an hour remaining.

Or, so they must have thought. San Lorenzo, now under more of an obligation to attack than ever before, came roaring back and got their first lucky break when a free kick went their way on the left wing. The ball went across and Gonzalo Bergessio was there to stab it over the line. Now 3-3 on aggregate, and with away goals also level, the tie was heading for penalties. Just four minutes later, San Lornenzo won a corner which former River favourite Andrés D’Alessandro floated in and Bergessio again rose above his marker to send a header past Juan Pablo Carrizo which made it 2-2 on the night, 4-3 on aggregate and, crucially, left River needing two more goals in the final quarter of an hour due to the away goal rule.

The response from River was wave after wave of attacks which got closer and closer to a goal, but which agonisingly never quite reached fruition. Diego Buonanotte had a penalty appeal turned down, then minutes later, the linesman flagged for a San Lorenzo goal kick when his shot had clearly hit a defender on its way over the bar. Mauro Rosales, sent on for Augusto Fernández when River were 2-0 up and coasting, flashed a shot across goal which, at the far post, Falcao failed by inches to connect with. When Rosales powered a bullet of a header into the net in the 88th minute, River’s players barely bothered to celebrate. It was as if they already knew the linesman was flagging for Abelairas’s fractional offside as he ran on to deliver the cross.

So the week that was to define the seasons of several of Argentina’s title-challenging clubs is complete. At the end, Estudiantes and River are the clear losers – both lost in the league at the weekend to allow the chasing pack closer, and both are now out of the Copa to boot – whilst San Lorenzo and Boca remain on course for a semi-final clash if they can negotiate tricky quarter-finals. For River, it’s yet another year of waiting to add a third Libertadores, but for Ramón Díaz’s San Lorenzo, the club’s first ever win in this competition is still a possibility, thanks to an amazing half hour from nine men who had looked beaten.

For the goals, check back on Friday evening.

10 thoughts on “San Lorenzo win through

  1. I think never in my life saw a game like this!
    San Lorenzo was absolutely out of the Cup, 0 – 2 and two men less and they turn it over. If I were a River fan in this precise moment I would smash my eggs in the refrigerator and then kill myself cutting my veins with a photograph of Palermo..!
    For those guys here in an english blog who perhaps sometimes have wondered why River’s nickname is chicken…, well, here is the best answer.

  2. I’m watching the TV an the River fans who came out of the stadium are absolutely crazy with Aguilar, the president of the club. They want almost to set the Monumental on fire!
    This must be one of the funniest night of my life!

  3. Thanks for rubbing it in.

    This is two games in a row where River’s decision not to have defenders on the posts for corners has cost them goals. You won’t see many other clubs doing that, and for good reason.

  4. A heartbreaker for the River faithful and the fans of the Saints must be in heaven. Simeone will have a hard task to get his team remotivated now. What a match and with too many subplots to keep track of. A “monumental” disaster for River.

  5. Bostero for the record San Lorenzo were down one man, not two.

    Anyway the silver lining is River can focus all energies on the Clausura. They have a very favourable remaining schedule, where they should really get 3 points in almost all of them. If they play well, of course.

  6. I’ve been saying that Bergessio is the Argentine Rooney and I think tonight he was even better than Rooney in that Euro played in Portugal.

    I think with Bergessio, Racing would have been already saved from relegation and promoción alltogether. I really miss him and what a way to turn a game around.

    He alone is the reason why San Lorenzo are doing so weel in both, the league and the Copa. He was immense for them at Potosí (when they were 2 goals down and almost out of the cup) and then he scored to winner against Racing to start a run in the Clausura, where they are up there with a couple of other teams.

    Oh…how I miss him!

  7. Unbelievable result. I dont understand how its Aguilars fault. If a bunch of overpaid muppets cant hang on to a 2 goal lead with 30 mins to go against 9 men, theres a problem. But that why we support La Maquinita, attack attack attack, unlike the boring long ball bosteros. Now we can concentrate on the clausura and let the peasants fight for the libertadores.

  8. I know what you mean about Bergessio, Seba, but I wish you hadn’t compared him to Rooney again, I hope a certain someone isn’t going to move his bizarre arguments about the likelihood of Rooney moving to an Argentine club onto this story now…

    He was superb, though.

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