After a difficult few months, it has been an excellent week for River Plate and on Sunday evening in Bahía Blanca, Los Millonarios followed up their Copa Argentina triumph with victory over Olimpo. However, speculation remains that Marcelo Gallardo could decide to walk away from the Monumental and the hugely successful coach was non-committal when quizzed on his future after the game.
“I don’t open or close any doors,” Gallardo told reporters, “I need to reflect, three or four days to think.” Were the 40-year-old to leave River, one suspects he wouldn’t be out of work for long but it would be a body blow to the club ahead of a 2017 Copa Libertadores campaign. Gallardo is perhaps not the only sought-after asset at River and in the win over Olimpo, Sebastián Driussi and Lucas Alario were both on target amid rumours of European interest.
Rodrigo Caballucci actually gave the home side an early lead but as River gradually increased the pressure, an equaliser eventually followed. Rodrigo Mora skipped away down the right and his low cross found Alario at the back post to apply a simple finish.
River were not having it all their own way and relegation threatened Olimpo will certainly look back ruefully on a number of missed chances as the visitors snatched all three points. Sebastián Driussi ensured he would end the year at the top of the scoring charts after tucking away a late penalty and gifted Gallardo what may yet be a final victory.
A little earlier in Rosario, Newell’s Old Boys signed off for the year in style by thrashing San Martín 6-1 in the Estadio Marcelo Bielsa. Diego Osella’s side have been outstanding in the first half of the season and deservedly end just three points behind Boca Juniors, in second.
However, much of La Lepra’s success has been built on a solid defensive backline rather than a blistering attack and so few could have predicted such a goal glut on Sunday. Maxi Rodríguez opened the scoring in under a minute with a wonderful solo effort before being swiftly substituted due to injury. His replacement Víctor Figueroa doubled the lead before Ignacio Scocco clipped in a third after 20 minutes.
Newell’s were rampant and shortly after half time added a fourth. Diego Mateo, on his last appearance before retirement headed the ball in the net for a rare goal and although Marcos Gelabert pulled a goal back for San Martín, it was nothing more than a brief reprieve.
A minute later, a powerful Facundo Quignon shot ricocheted off the post, against goalkeeper Luis Ardente and into the net and when Scocco delightfully lobbed in a sixth, the question was just how many Newell’s could score.
Thankfully for San Martín, the home side took their foot off the gas but still inflicted a club record defeat.
Newell’s Old Boys 6 – 1 San Martín
Olimpo 1 – 2 River Plate