The match started with an unpleasant surprise that seemed to foreshadow a future similar to a disappointing past. Barely two minutes into the match, Leandro Benitez put the "Pincharatas" up with an exquisite header. River did not take long to react, though, and put the score back on term just four minutes later, thanks to a potential shot taken by Fernando Belluschi. But Belluschi's good game wasn't over just yet: at the 23rd minute of the first half, Fernando assisted Marco Ruben, who was finally able to score this season. With River showing a good display of football, the team had a few more opportunities to enlarge the goal difference between the two, but did not manage to put the ball past the net.
At the beginning of the second half, River was not showing the same positive display. Despite not playing well either, Estudiantes were able to attain more possession and had a few good chances. To make things worse, Fernando Belluschi was expelled at the 32nd minute due to going in with a dangerous sliding tackle. Not much long after, the Uruguayan Salgueiro tied the match. With less than ten minutes left, everything seemed to indicate that the game would finish in a 2-2 draw, leaving River with barely three points and far from the top of the rankings. Fortunately for us, that wasn't the end of the story. Alexis Sanchez, arguably our best incorporation this season, was able to enter the field and put on the superhero costume. With constant pressure, the Chilean foward managed to steal the ball from an Estudiantes defender and easily put it past Mariano Andujar (Estudiantes' goalkeeper). Sanchez also assisted Radamel Falcao in the 92nd minute, in what was the goal of the week (and probably of the season as well).
The Player Review -
Juan Marcelo Ojeda: The ex-Rosario Central goalkeeper might have not been as great as in the last two matches, but he did not do bad either. In fact, both of Estudiantes' goals were fantastic and impossible for him to stop. One thing I noticed from him, though, is that he seems to have "butterfingers". Since his debut for River, I've been noticing that he stops shots very well but doesn't seem to actually sustain the ball. Still, Ojeda's image has been much more positive than negative so far. One important thing: Juan Pablo Carrizo is rumoured to return to River for 6 more months due to Lazio's failure to make the first payment. If he does return, Ojeda's regularity will be postponed till next season.
Paulo Ferrari: The new team capitan played an average game. He contributed to the team with his speed, but still didn't do anything too great. Better regular than bad, right?
Nicolas Sanchez: Very similar to Ferrari. An average game for Sanchez, who improved after a few bad performances.
Cristian Nasuti: El "Tano" did a good job before being substituted during half-time. After a long time out due to injuries, Nasuti returned and convinced more than Eduardo Tuzzio. Will he start again on Sunday?
Cristian Villagra: *Sighs*. I thought Cristian was finally putting on a decent performance, but he still failed to impress me. In fact, he committed an error during Estudiantes' second goal. It wasn't directly his fault, but if we would have ended up tieing 2-2, I'd be ready to chop his head off right now! Seriously, though: don't we have any left-backs in our lower divisions?
Fernando Belluschi: I was surprised to see Belluschi's good level of play today. Today's game was the closest he's gotten to his old form for a long time. Besides the goal (1-1) and the assist (2-1), he ran around the whole field and was very active. It was disappointing to see him get expelled after such a good performance. According to the TyC Sports commentators, he only deserved a yellow card. Depending at the way you look at it, it could have been the correct or incorrect decision. No matter if it's right or wrong, Belluschi will miss out on Sunday's game vs. Racing.
Oscar Ahumada: I did not like Ahumada too much today. One negative point was the he intentionally hit an Estudiantes players in our area during a corner kick in favor of the opposition. Luckily the ref did not see it, else we would have been left with 9 players and a penalty against us. In other words, with better vision by the refferree, we could have lost the game due to Ahumada's stupidity.
Augusto Fernandez: The youngster, made in River's lower divisions, did a fine job (as usual). His speed and jukes contributed a lot to the team, and completed a good performance with a very offensive midfield (Ariel Ortega and Fernando Belluschi alongside). Much of the fourth goal was thanks to him, after making a good play with Lima and eventually passing it to Alexis Sanchez.
Ariel Ortega: El "Burrito" might have not played as well as in the other matches, but he is still an important part of the team. He gave a few good passes today, but his tiredness from the long series of games was more than obvious.
Marco Ruben: The ex-Rosario Central striker improved today. He seemed to be more active and actually looked for the ball a lot more. This may be the reason he finally was able to score (with an excellent header). Still not perfect, but an improvement nonetheless.
Radamel Falcao Garcia: The Colombian did not have a very good match, but he still put the ball through the net. I am very impressed by him physically. Am I the only one to notice that he always runs around and apparently never gets tired?!?
The Substitutes -
Federico Lussenhoff: El "Colorado" entered during half-time to substitute Cristian Nasuti. This substitution was only made for precaution, since Nasuti had been inactive for a long time now. Either way, both players delivered a good performance.
Alexis Sanchez: The Chilean did a fantastic job and scored one goal (3-2) and assisted another (4-2). Unlike vs. San Martin (SJ), Alexis seemed to have a good connection with his teammates. His constant pressure and willingness to recuperate the ball help out tremendously (just look at how his first goal for River was made!). Next to Belluschi, I think Sanchez was the man of the match.
Rene Lima: Rene came in towards the end of the game to help defensively, but he actually contributed to scoring the fourth goal! The defensive midfielder impresses everytime he comes in, and could have an important future with "la banda".
On Sunday we will face Racing Club, who's football has been going uphill lately. Will we be able to conquer a new win? Only time will tell.
*Note: Click on the text in red to view each of the six goals of the match.