River Plate made the most of the rain delay that pushed their season opener against Quilmes back until Monday evening and although the ill-discipline of Los Cerveceros played a part, Marcelo Gallardo’s side recorded an emphatic 5-1 victory. Two goals a piece from Gonzalo Martínez and Sergio Mora and another for Lucas Alario ensured River romped to what appears perhaps a far easier three points than in reality it was.
The first half performance of River still had the feel of the imprecise post-Libertadores side that struggled for form during the second half of 2015. Lucas Alario won the home side a somewhat contentious penalty and Quilmes’ mood was further darkened when Walter Benítez kept out Sergio Mora’s initial effort only for Fernando Rapallini to justifiably order a retake. Mora converted at the second time of asking but the visitors remained in the game and forced an equaliser when Sebastián Romero volleyed in from close range.
The Monumental was getting a little anxious and no player was feeling the brunt of this more than the frustrating figure of Gonzalo ‘Pity’ Martínez. So, on the stroke of half time when the youngster unleashed a vicious long range effort that flew into the back of the net to restore the lead, he ensured the supporters took note with a hushing gesture.
However even a contest the first half may have been, after the break River eased up a gear and blew Quilmes away, as Alfredo Grelak’s side lost all shape and discipline. Martínez added his second volleying in Nicolás Bertolo’s cross from the right and when the visitors had Rodrigo Braña sent off for a wild challenge on Martínez minutes later it was all over.
Mora smashed in a fourth and Lucas Alario tapped in a fifth after the linesman failed to notice Iván Alonso in a clear offside position helping the ball back into the path of the goalscorer.
Do the five goals prove that River are back? Not yet. Gallardo will have seen a lot in the first half to work on and will be aware that there will be far greater tests than Quilmes.
In Arsenal’s stadium, due to The Rolling Stones currently occupying Estudiantes’ home, Lanús made a winning start to 2016 after Román González struck late against his former club. An even encounter between two sides under new management was heading for a goalless draw until the 85th minute when a corner from the left was headed into the path of González and allowed the ex-Estudiantes midfielder to nod the ball past Agustín Rossi.
Finally in Junín, Sarmiento extended Vélez Sarsfield’s misery when Carlos Bueno’s second half goal subjected Christian Bassedas to a losing start as manager of El Fortín.
Estudiantes 0 – 1 Lanús
River Plate 5 – 1 Quilmes
Sarmiento 1 – 0 Vélez Sarsfield