Néstor Gorosito’s head and neck (not to mention most of his back) must be absolutely sweltering under that mullet. His new team managed to keep cool enough in their 2009 Torneo de Verano debut, though, that after going 1-0 down to Independiente shortly before half time, an impressive River Plate (in so far as a side can be impressive at this time of year) came back in the second half for a 1-1 draw on Tuesday night. In the absence of any meaningful football to write about, here’s a brief report.
After thrashing Racing on Saturday in Mar del Plata, Independiente arrived in Mendoza for this match with River already waiting, and the game conformed far more to expectations of a pre-season friendly than did the weekend Avellaneda clásico. That is to say, neither side looked fully bedded in, and both made some pretty basic errors at times. River, though, had far the better of the play.
Gorosito’s tactical tinkering from the River side that finished bottom of the Torneo Apertura was minimal. Matías Abelairas was the enganche and youngster Gustavo Bou partnered Santiago Salcedo up front. Hilario Navarro made his debut for Independiente, saving well early on from Bou in the rather dull opening exchanges of a half River comfortably had the upper hand in.
It was Independiente who took the lead at the end of the first half, in spite of River’s good showing. Darío Gandín smacked a right-footer against the crossbar from the edge of the box, and Hernán Fredes was on hand to tuck home the rebound.
River dominated the second half, the toil of two matches in four days, combined with the journey from Mardel to Mendoza in between getting too much for Independiente, seemingly. Gorosito sent Gustavo ‘Tortugol‘ Fernández (‘The Tortoise-goal’) on for his debut. After saving well from Diego Barrado, Navarro made a hash of a cross from Mauro Díaz, and Fernández, who’d been causing Independiente’s backline problems since his introduction, was on hand to score his first senior goal for River.
The 18-year-old scored four goals for River’s ‘fifth division’ youth level against an AC Milan youth side in September during a youth competition in Turin, and could well be one to watch, if he’s given the chance in the Clausura. If River’s performance was anything to go by, it might be a bright 2009 with Gorosito in charge. But few Millo fans will be cheering too loudly just yet.