Very few sides come away from La Paz with three points, in fact you need to go back almost 50 years for the last time an Argentine club managed it, but River Plate came about as close as could be when they clashed with The Strongest on Wednesday night. Rodrigo Mora’s spectacular first half volley appeared to have given them victory against the odds but in the final minute Alejandro Chumacero equalised for the home side to maintain their record. The result leaves both sides in good shape to qualify at the halfway point in group one.
In the circumstances, River would probably have taken a point before kick off and in an attempt to address their recent defensive troubles, Marcelo Gallardo named Éder Álvarez Balanta in the starting lineup after an extended spell on the treatment table. In spite of the young Colombian’s inclusion, River were often stretched to the limit but whenever they were breached, Marcelo Barovero was alert to the danger.
The Copa Libertadores champions posed a threat of their own too and took the lead after 17 minutes when Leonardo Ponzio’s poorly hit free kick into the box was outrageously overhead kicked by Rodrigo Mora into the far corner.
River were holding on at times but had chances to extend the lead. The wasteful finishing of Sebastián Driussi meant the second never came and it ultimately proved costly. As the game edged towards stoppage time, Chumacero cut inside two River defenders and thrashed the ball past Barovero to earn the home side a point.
São Paulo’s draw away to Trujillanos last night did little to help their hopes of qualification but was a good result for both The Strongest and River. The reverse of last night matches are next up and aside from being a must-win for the Brazilians, a win for River would put them top of the group.