Copa Libertadores champions River Plate have failed to maintain the incredible form that saw them lift the trophy in August but whilst they stutter domestically, Marcelo Gallardo’s side cruised to a comfortable victory in the first match of their defence. A trip to Venezuela to face Trujillanos was the first test for Los Millonarios and after how much River struggled with qualification from the group stage in 2015, Gallardo would have been eager to make a better start this year.
Following a difficult opening 45 minutes, El Muñeco got that and once Leonardo Piculichi broke the deadlock with a stunning free kick after 54 minutes, River eased away from their hosts. Lucho González tapped in a second after Leandro Diaz failed to hold Pisculichi’s next set piece effort and Uruguayan Iván Alonso added a late brace to complete the rout. River are by no means as solid as the 2015 version as yet but a comfortable away win was just what was needed. São Paulo visit the Monumental next week and after their shock home defeat to The Strongest, the Brazilians will be desperate for a result in Buenos Aires.
Earlier in the Gigante de Arroyito, Rosario Central were fortunate to avoid defeat in their first Copa Libertadores match since 2006. Eduardo Coudet rotated his side for the visit of Uruguayan champions, Nacional and after Nicolás López had poked the visitors into a deserved second half lead, it looked as though it wouldn’t be a triumphant return for El Canalla. Marcelo Larrondo had been introduced late to try and salvage something and the striker certainly had an impact. His exaggerated collapse under a minimal challenge from Mauricio Víctorino fooled referee Wilmar Roldán and from the resulting penalty in stoppage time, Larrondo rolled in the equaliser. With the other game in group 2 also ending in a draw, we are as we were but Central will know that they must improve ahead of the visit to Palmeiras if they are to progress.