Bolivian side, The Strongest have always made their club name seem slightly ironic when travelling away from the altitude of La Paz in the Copa Libertadores but after a shock win over São Paulo in Brazil and with River Plate in a bad patch of form, their visit was met with a little more caution than perhaps it normally would have been.
That belief proved misplaced as River turned on the style and scored five first half goals to completely demolish the visitors and go top of group one. After only 13 minutes the Copa Libertadores champions opened the scoring in spectacular fashion. Andrés D’Alessandro, back at the club after 13 years, nutmegged a defender out on the right, played a one-two with Camilo Mayada, who backheeled the return into his path, and the 34-year-old poked a finish past Daniel Vaca at his near post.
Ten minutes later and the lead was doubled when Ignacio Fernández rose to head in a Gabriel Mercado cross. The Strongest’s failure to pick up runners when River were in wide positions continued to hurt them and Mayada got himself on the scoresheet when he was allowed to ghost into the penalty area and volley home a cross from the left.
Emanuel Mammana nodded in a fourth before Lucas Alario fired in a fifth on the stroke of half time. The game was over but such was the incompetence of The Strongest’s defence it was difficult to tell if River were actually that impressive.
The second half was understandably a stroll and all that was left was for Fernández to add his second and River’s sixth late on.
The result puts River above The Strongest at the top of group one and with São Paulo beating Trujillanos by the same scoreline on Tuesday evening, the stage is set for a decisive clash between River and the Brazilian side next Wednesday.
River Plate 6 – 0 The Strongest