Millonarios show some character

El Muñeco celebrates River's equaliser
El Muñeco celebrates River's equaliser

In probably the most unexpected development of the domestic league’s fourteenth round, River Plate played with spirit and intelligence to overturn a deficit and actually win a football match on Sunday afternoon. 1-0 down after only two-and-a-half minutes at home to Atlético Tucumán, it looked like the same old story for River. But they turned the match on its head with two goals in five second half minutes, and got a third shortly after. Has Leo Astrada got them playing properly at last?

Emanuel Gigliotti headed Atlético in front after a half-cleared corner was crossed back into the box in the third minute, and normally for River, that would be that. Having won only once in their previous eleven matches, it didn’t look good, even though Diego Buonanotte had already gone close before the visitors opened the scoring. The pattern was a deeply entrenched one: opposition score, River lose spirit and crumble.

Except that for some reason, that wasn’t how it went on Sunday. For the first half, admittedly, only Buonanotte really seemed to be showing much stomach for the fight, but the half time introductions of Roberto Pereyra and Martín Galmarini gave River a new resolve. Galmarini helped create the equaliser, knocking it down from a doubtful position for Marcelo Gallardo to hammer into the net.

Minutes later, River were ahead. Buonanotte got the goal his first half performance had deserved. Pouncing after the ball was cleared off the line from a Mauro Rosales header, Buonanotte cut back into the box and smashed a shot into the top far corner which, had a defender or the goalkeeper got in the way, would have probably taken them into the net with it. After that it was plain sailing for a change for River, and substitute Daniel Villalba was able to add another goal to his impressive start to his career after a fantastic pass from Buonanotte. It’s just possible that Leonardo Astrada’s River Plate might have seen some light at the end of the tunnel created by previous managers.

Later on Sunday, Boca Juniors could only draw 1-1 away to Arsenal. Chilean Gary Medel scored to put the Xeneize ahead after 27 minutes, but Arsenal equalised after fighting back in the second half through Cristian Alvarez, who got a free kick over the wall and into the bottom corner from the edge of the box. With this result, Boca are eleven points away from a Copa Libertadores qualification place (Newell’s Old Boys are currently in the last qualifying spot) with just fifteen left to play for.

Elsewhere so far in the fourteenth round, Independiente beat San Lorenzo comfortably in the Nuevo Gasómetro to continue their recent resurgence. Darío Gandín, Martín Gómez and Lionel Núñez scored the goals for El Rojo, whilst the hosts’ Alejandro Gómez was sent off with nine minutes left. Previously in the weekend, Newell’s won 1-0 away to Chacarita and the other three matches were all home wins: Tigre beat Godoy Cruz 2-0, Banfield saw of Vélez 3-0, and Colón beat Argentinos 2-0.

On Monday afternoon and evening, Racing host Estudiantes, Gimnasia La Plata play Huracán and Lanús visit Central.

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