Despite their impressive league form, Rosario Central had found the Copa Libertadores slightly harder going in their opening two fixtures. Still without a win, El Canalla welcomed Uruguayan side River Plate to the Gigante de Arroyito on Wednesday night and thanks in large part to the sensational form of Marco Ruben, claimed an important first three points.
Much the better side, Ruben’s poaching instincts in the six-yard box had given Central a half-time lead but it was after the break where the home side’s superiority told. The supremely talented Giovani Lo Celso, who looks more destined for Europe with every match, created the second for Germán Herrera after breaking from midfield and threading a perfectly weighted ball through to the striker to slot past Nicola Pérez.
Ruben made it three on the hour mark and although Michael Santos immediately pulled a goal back for the visitors, Central’s number nine completed his hat-trick in spectacular fashion. Spotting Pérez out of position, Ruben volleyed the ball from over 40 yards out and sealed a thoroughly convincing victory.
With Nacional beating Palmeiras in group two’s other match, it remains tight. Nacional lead the way on four points but have both the Brazilians and Central just a point behind at the half way stage.