Saturday, May 3, 2008

San Lorenzo: 2 - River Plate: 1 - Copa Libertadores 2008

River Plate lost 2-1 to San Lorenzo in a typical Copa Libertadores match, which was full of excitement, tension, fights, and controversial moments - all at once.

The home side began winning 1-0 thanks to Andres Silvera. Luckily, Radamel Falcao Garcia was able to find the net a few minutes later, allowing "los Millonarios" to tie the match for the moment. Despite eventually losing, this goal may end up being important since it was an away goal (if we win 1-0 in the Monumental, we would qualify automatically to the next round).

Everything went well in the first half. River were controlling San Lorenzo's attack, yet they still went out looking to score. Unfortunately, the proposition changed a bit in the second half, when Simeone opted to play a counter-attack style of football and allowed Ramon Diaz's team to reach Carrizo's goal more often. Although we suffered at times, it seemed as if "el Cholo"'s plans were going well towards the end of the match. We were leaving with a 1-1 tie, which would force San Lorenzo to look for a win in next week's game. But the game was not yet over: in the 87th minute, referree Hector Baldassi called a controversial penalty that Adrian Gonzalez exchanged for CASLA's victory. What happened exactly in the play? The ball bounced of Alexis Sanchez hand, who in my opinion had no intention to hit it. To top it off, he was pushed by a San Lorenzo player, causing his hand to clash with the ball. Not much time was left after this for "los millonarios" to find the draw, and the game ultimately ended 2-1.

The Player Review -
Juan Pablo Carrizo: The goalkeeper did not have fault in either one of the two goals, and once again made some fantastic saves. Placente had a potential shot in the first half that could have made things a lot worse for River, yet JP stopped the shot and kept River alive.
Paulo Ferrari: The best player on the field. When he attacked he was dangerous (made the assist in Falcao's goal), and when he defended he was lethal. No one could get past him, and he amazingly won several balls. In the past, he wasn't exactly known for his defending abilities, but I've been noticing a huge improvement in this aspect of Ferrari's style of play. He had a fantastic game, as simple as that.
Gustavo Cabral: Poor performance. He failed to do his job correctly. Nicolas Sanchez seems to be the better option for his position at the moment.
Eduardo Tuzzio: Tuzzio was solid, despite being verbally abused by Gonzalo Bergessio (the foward brought up the infamous conflicts Tuzzio had with ex-River defender Horacio Ameli). At times, he also fought with Andres Silvera.
Cristian Villagra: The best defender behind Ferrari. He completed his tasks and efficiently stopped several attacks.
Augusto Fernandez: The right-winger started off playing a great game, though his performance dropped as time passed. Either way, he had an overall good game, being a key player in the offensive part of the team, yet also knowing when to return to help in the defensive duties.
Oscar Ahumada: The defensive midfielder was not horrible, but did not impress me either. It wasn't his best game, though he didn't commit errors either.
Matias Abelairas: A key player in the circulation of the ball, especially in the first half.
Rodrigo Archubi: The ex-Lanus player was arguably the worst player on the field. Not in the sense that he committed nonstop errors, but he failed to impress in several ways. The only positive he had was a powerful shot in the first few minutes of the game, but other than that he was very inactive.
Radamel Falcao Garcia: The Colombian had a good game and scored River's only goal with another great header. He fought for every ball with will and passion.
Sebastian Abreu: The Uruguayan incredibly missed a one-on-one opportunity in the 4th minutes of the first half. If that would have gone in, who knows what the final result would have been. Besides that, he had a good game, being helpful in the attack and always returning to defend in set pieces. He left in the second half: would the second goal have existed if he were still on the field?
The Substitutes -
Diego Buonanotte: The "dwarf" entered in the second half and almost scored what would have been a partial 2-1 lead for us.
Alexis Sanchez: The Chilean attempted to leave his mark, but the only way he did so was by giving San Lorenzo a penalty towards the end of the match. Not at all what we expected from the ex-Colo Colo player.
Ariel Ortega: Did not play enough to comment on.

The second leg of this Round of Sixteen match-up will be played next Thursday. We must finish the game with a win if we plan on advancing, though in some cases even a victory won't be enough to get through. Either way, we must first think of the Superclasico vs. Boca on Sunday.

The Goals:

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