River Plate were far from back to their best but Ignacio Scocco scored one of the goals of the year to give Marcelo Gallardo’s side a much needed win over Olimpo in the Monumental.
For much of the Superliga clash, River’s recent problems were still evident as Los Millonarios struggled to break down a resolute but vastly inferior Olimpo side, who remain hot favourites for relegation.
Gallardo was in need of inspiration and he got that from Scocco. Jorge Carranza had been equal to everything that River had thrown at him until the 56th minute when Scocco struck a terrific free kick that the Olimpo goalkeeper was helpless to stop.
River introduced Lucas Pratto and Juan Fernando Quintero shortly after and despite the record signing missing a glorious opportunity, there were promising signs that the pair will lift River to the level expected of such a side. Pratto could have had two in his short cameo and Quintero, despite still being a little out of shape, showed glimpses that he could possess the defence unlocking ability that River have been lacking.
However, the night belonged to Scocco and with eight minutes remaining the former Sunderland striker produced a moment of such individual brilliance that if it were Lionel Messi, the replays would be on repeat around the world. Scocco received the ball 35 yards from goal with eight Olimpo defenders between him and the goal with seemingly no danger to the visitor’s goal. A jinking couple of touches took the 32-year-old between two, another touch took him round another and as the challenges came in, Scocco kept going. With the defence split, Scocco rounded Carranza and slid the ball into the empty net for one of the most sensational solo efforts, the Monumental will have ever seen.
Scocco’s magic undoubtedly glossed over another rather insipid River display but victory was key after such a torrid run of results and the signs are that Gallardo’s side are only going to get better.
River Plate 2 – 0 Olimpo
Earlier on Saturday, a poor Atlético Tucumán display was unable to take advantage of a heavily rotated Banfield side as the two teams played out a goalless draw. Julio César Falcioni and his team travel to Ecuador this week for a vital Copa Libertadores playoff second leg and so understandably rested all their entire first eleven but it was probably still El Taladro that looked most likely to claim all the points. Neither side did enough but the point will have pleased Falcioni more than Atlético’s Ricardo Zielinski.
At the same time in Rosario, Unión’s fine form took a dip as they missed out on the chance to go second after defeat to ten-man Central.
With only eight minutes on the clock, Fernando Tobio nodded the home side in front from Leonardo Gil’s corner but Unión responded well and had already begun to dominate when before half time, Central saw Maximiliano González sent off for a second yellow.
Despite looking defensively fragile in their two fixtures in 2018, Central hung on and frustrated Unión to pick up an impressive win.
And finally in Santa Fe, Independiente claimed an important victory over Colón to climb into fourth and put behind them two disappointing results since the Superliga restart.
El Rojo were far from their best and at times during the opening 45 minutes were left exposed by a counter-attacking Colón side, who perhaps should have made more of their chances. However, it was Leandro Fernández who had gone closest during the first half with a shot cleared off the line by Germán Conti.
In a game full of misplaced passes it was always likely to be decided by the finest of margins and in the 73rd minute, Independiente broke the deadlock. Jonathan Menéndez, on what was a promising Independiente debut, was tripped by Lucas Ceballos and Leandro Fernández sent Alexander Dominguez from the penalty spot.
Colón pushed forward in an effort to find an equaliser but Martín Campaña and the Independiente defence did just enough to hold on.
Banfield 0 – 0 Atlético Tucumán
Rosario Central 1 – 0 Unión
Colón 0 – 1 Independiente