It doesn’t really get any bigger than the meeting of two Argentinian clubs in the semi final of the Copa Libertadores and while for large parts the game didn’t match the electricity of the atmosphere, Ignacio Scocco popped up with a late winner to give River Plate the advantage of Lanús.
The Copa Libertadores creates nights that few other football tournaments can compete with and River Plate’s famous El Monumental was no different on Tuesday evening for the highly anticipated visit of Lanús. Marcelo Gallardo’s side chasing a second title in three years while El Granate arrived in uncharted territory.
Así fué el recibimiento MONUMENTAL pic.twitter.com/sRmoHytkhj
— River Plate Photos (@RiverPlatePho) October 24, 2017
Amid the fireworks, noise and passion from the stands, Lanús were not overawed and tried to stifle River as much as possible. The game plan was clear – sit back and soak up River’s pressure and then spring forward on the counter through Lautaro Acosta and Alejandro Silva.
For the most part it was successful. River probed down the flanks with young full backs Gonzalo Montiel and Marcelo Saracchi overlapping but couldn’t open any clear chances while Acosta threatened on occasions at the other end.
River controlled possession and were the dominant side more actively looking to find the breakthrough but centre back Javier Pinola rifling a shot against the post from 25 yards was the closest Los Millonarios came to an opener.
That was until the 81st minute when substitute Nicolás De La Cruz found Gonzalo Martínez on the edge of the box, his stinging shot was parried by Esteban Andrada and Scocco pounced to fire in the rebound.
— OptaJavier (@OptaJavier) October 25, 2017
That proved to be enough and makes River Plate favourites to clinch a place in the final. However, Gallardo will be aware of Lanús’ threat having already seen El Granate overturn a two-goal deficit in the last round against San Lorenzo.
The sides meet again next Tuesday and with Lanús now forced to take more of a risk, it promises for a more exciting clash.