It hasn’t been a good 2016 so far for River Plate but on Saturday evening in the Monumental, Marcelo Gallardo’s side gave a fitting send off to goalkeeper Marcelo Barovero and left-back Leonel Vangioni, two of the Copa Libertadores winning side who will be leaving the club at the end of the season.
Iván Alonso’s thunderous header near the hour mark gave River a deserved win over Gimnasia but with neither side playing for anything, the match was all about Barovero. The iconic goalkeeper was replaced with minutes remaining to a standing ovation and Gallardo confirmed that his replacement, young Agusto Batalla will be River’s number one next season. This coming preseason will be significant for Los Millonarios with Gallardo’s Copa Libertadores winning side well and truly dismantled. After a disappointing post-Libertadores title period, River now need to rebuild and start again.
In Avellaneda, Independiente began life after Mauricio Pellegrino with a convincing win over Arsenal. Reserve manager, Fernando Berón took charge and noticeably had El Rojo attack with greater purpose and intensity. As the game went on, Independiente became an increasing threat with Martín Benítez enjoying his best performance of the season and it was the the talented youngster who drew the foul from Ramiro Carrera that saw Arsenal reduced to ten men. A minute later, El Rojo led when Leandro Fernández dashed in behind the visitor’s defence and lashed the ball past Fernando Pellegrino. With the man advantage, Independiente dominated Arsenal and with minutes remaining, substitute Rodrigo Gómez curled in an exquisite free kick.
It hasn’t been a good season for Independiente and it cost Pellegrino his job but supporters will have gone home pleased after a display of attacking football that has been so lacking. Gabriel Milito is expected to be named the new manager this week and if he can get the best from the likes of Benítez, Fernández and Vera then El Rojo will be a threat next season.