River Plate earned a valuable 1-0 victory last night in the first leg of their Copa Sudamericana tie with San Lorenzo. Having not won in the Nuevo Gasometro since 2004 and not having made the greatest of starts to the Torneo Final things did not bode well for River but a resolute performance saw them take the slender advantage back to El Monumental on September 5th.
Following San Lorenzo’s heavy defeat to Argentinos Juniors last weekend, a cup win over city rivals, River would have been the perfect tonic but Ramon Diaz’s side had other ideas and caused a night of frustration for El Ciclon. A cautious approach from River meant they defended in numbers and limited San Lorenzo to very little and once again it was Colombian, Eder Alvarez Balanta who caught the eye. The youngster is still attracting great interest from Europe, and Barcelona are the latest big name to be linked with a move, so whether he will still be with River at the end of the European transfer window remains to be seen.
Alvarez Balanta played a part in the only goal of the game as he followed in the rebound after Cristian Alvarez failed to hold Jonathan Fabbro’s inswinging freekick. The ball then ricocheted to Jonathan Maidana and he hammered the ball through the crowd to give River the lead.
San Lorenzo tried to force an equaliser for the remainder of the game but were continuously thwarted by River’s steadfast defence. River once again failed to pose much of a goal threat but were buoyed to see Rodrigo Mora make his first start up front, taking the pressure of youth player, Giovani Simeone.
Over the coming weeks his presence should provide River with a little more bite, as would Teo Gutierrez, if his transfer from Cruz Azul is ever resolved! The player remains in Buenos Aires and despite the lengthy delay River have now paid his former Mexican employees the fee. However, Cruz Azul are still dragging their heals and have not released the registration as they now demand some compensation over the matter. It now seems FIFA will have to intervene to force some resolution.