River perhaps made harder work than was necessary of their Venezuelan opponents, Trujillanos in the Monumental on Thursday night but ran out 4-3 winners and group winners to sail into the Copa Libertadores last 16. São Paulo’s task was more difficult but Argentine striker, Jonathan Calleri scored his eighth goal of the tournament to give the Brazilians a 1-1 draw away to The Strongest and take the runners-up spot.
Andrés D’Alessandro scored twice in the opening 18 minutes to put River firmly in control against their already eliminated opponents, the first a free kick from the edge of the penalty and the second a penalty after Milton Casco was tripped.
However, complacency crept in and despite Marcelo Barovero’s tremendous effort to keep the ball out after some careless defending by Jonathan Maidana, Maurico Cova curled in a wonderful effort just outside the penalty area.
Minutes after half time and River were gifted their two-goal lead again after a collision between goalkeeper Héctor Pérez and defender John Osorio allowed Camilo Mayada the simplest of tap ins. Lucas Alario made if four from close range with 20 minutes to go to wrap up what appeared to be a very comfortable victory.
Credit to Trujillanos as they pulled two back within five minutes of going three behind through Franklin González and James Cabezas but they didn’t quite manage to create the grandstand finish.
River held on for all three points to take top spot and will face Independiente del Valle in the last 16. Before thinking about this, Marcelo Gallardo must now get his side focused on Sunday’s superclásico.
Jonathan Calleri extended his lead as the Copa Libertadores top scorer with a vital towering header in La Paz to give São Paulo a draw against The Strongest and see them through as runners-up. Tempers flared at full time and Calleri was shown a red card and will now miss their first-leg clash with Toluca.
River Plate 4 – 3 Trujillanos
The Strongest 1 – 1 São Paulo
Copa Libertadores last 16 Qualification