To make things worse after the mid-week elimination in the hands of San Lorenzo, "los Millonarios" began losing the match. Things could have gotten even worse, though the posts were on our side and prevented 3 clear opportunities from being transformed into goals. River finally seemed to get on track with a fierce shot by Matias Abelairas the tied the match, though not much longer a defensive disconcentration let Gimnasia find the 2-1 lead before heading to the locker rooms for half time. The first 45 minutes ended and the Monumental stadium was pure havoc. The fans, who were already deeply hurt from the match vs. San Lorenzo, became frustrated from River's poor performance vs. a very mediocre team. The away side were completely controlling the match, River's midfield didn't seem as if they were present, and the defense was more fragil than glass. Something had to be done during half time if the team aspired to fight for the title this season.
Diego Simeone must have had an inspirational speech during the 15-minute break, because the team entered the field with a new attitude and a different style of play. This quickly led River to put the match back on level terms (2-2 by Buonanotte) and then flip the score (Matias Abelairas and Ariel Ortega). The squad ultimately ended up converting strong mumbles and insults from the crowd into applauses and cheer. Now, what was this change of performance due to? Oscar Ahumada entered the field during half time to replace Leonardo Ponzio and brought the missing defensive strength to the pitch. Ariel Ortega was also subbed-in, and added pace (what was missing on Thursday vs. CASLA) and created plays. He made several clear chances for the team, including to one-on-one's. Diego Buonanotte and Alexis Sanchez -two players who played from the start- heavily improved for the last 45 minutes, after both having a very poor first half.
Thanks to San Lorenzo and Boca Juniors's losses, River now find themselves more comfortable in the standings. With five games remaining, the top positions in the rankings look as follows:
1) River Plate - 30 Pts.
2) Estudiantes - 30 Pts.
3) San Lorenzo - 27 Pts.
4) Velez Sarsfield - 27 Pts.
5) Independiente - 26 Pts.
6) Boca Juniors - 26 Pts.
An exciting last portion of the tournament awaits us. Independiente, who have slowly crept up behind River and Estudiantes, are on a five match winning streak and must face us next Sunday. The other top teams will also be experiencing "clasicos" next weekend, with Boca receiving Racing, Estudiantes facing arch-rivals Gimnasia (LP), and San Lorenzo playing their derby vs. Huracan.