It was only Néstor Gorosito’s second competitive match in charge of River Plate, but their first win of 2009 already seems like it’s been a long time coming, following the disappointments of the Torneo de Verano. On Thursday night, in their first Copa Libertadores group game against Paraguayans Nacional, they were disappointing again, but Diego Buonanotte won it for them with almost the last kick.
River started the stronger of the two sides, with Gustavo Fernández given his debut up fron. The hosts dominated possession in the first half but with each chance that went begging, they lost a little confidence, and gradually Nacional began to come into it, and Juan Ojeda had to make a couple of stops before the break arrived.
In the second half Gorosito made changes designed to help River make the breakthrough that had eluded them in the first. Robert Flores, the young Uruguayan on loan from Villarreal, replaced Matías Abelairas at the break, whilst just before the hour one debutant was withdrawn for another – Fernández jogging to the sidelines to allow Cristian Fabbiani, finally arrived from Newell’s, to take his bow.
After Fabbiani’s introduction River’s defence fell victim to the temptation to simply launch long balls his way, and the home side created very little in the way of chances on goal. With eight minutes to go, Argentine striker Hébert Arriola could have made things really embarrassing for River, but ran out of space after rounding Ojeda. And then at last, the goal arrived for River.
There was plenty wrong with it – Cristian Fabbiani knocked down a high ball from Mauro Rosales using his left arm before turning and shooting – that was saved by Ignacio Don, another Argentine in the Paraguayan goal, but Buonanotte, who’d been offside when Fabbiani’s initial shot was taken, was on hand to stab it over the line. At last, Gorosito has a win. It wasn’t pretty, but the fans will be hoping it’s something to build on.
Unfortunately, AOL have decided to mess around with their servers tonight, meaning I wasn’t able to get online until nearly 2am and now I have managed it, a lot of websites aren’t viewable. This includes video-hosting sites, so I can’t yet post vids of any of the Copa goals so far – either from last night or from tonight. Assuming the server issues are fixed tomorrow night, I’ll get them up then.