The comeback from two goals down against Godoy Cruz last week produced shoots of optimism at the Monumental but it was a case of one step forward and two steps back for River Plate after Marcelo Gallardo’s side slumped to a sixth consecutive away defeat against Vélez Sarsfield in Liniers.
River’s record signing Lucas Pratto was honoured by his former club before kick-off but it turned out to the highlight of the afternoon for the underwhelming striker as another listless performance was punished.
Vélez were the better side from the off but aside from a decent penalty shout and Lucas Robertone drawing a superb stop by Franco Armani, the home side failed to create too many clear opportunities.
That failure almost cost Vélez when Rodrigo Mora struck the underside of the crossbar with a sweetly struck free-kick but the momentum swung back in favour of Gabriel Heinze’s side when the disappointing Enzo Pérez was shown a red card.
Mauro Zárate went close to breaking the deadlock and soon after Vélez got their goal. Matías Vargas persevered down the right before digging out a cross allowing Lucas Robertone to score his first senior goal.
Vélez held on for all three points to maintain distance from the relegation zone but the bigger story line remains River’s worrying form. Two wins in fourteen Superliga fixtures sees Gallardo’s side down in 20th, a position for which most other managers may well have been shown the door. The Copa Libertadores begins this week and if this form continues even the great Muñeco will be in trouble.
Vélez Sarsfield 1 – 0 River Plate
Earlier in Parque Patricios, Defensa y Justicia earned a deserved 1-0 win over Patronato thanks to on-loan full-back Nahuel Molina’s first goal. El Halcón had been close on several occasions and successfully kept the dangerous Sebastián Ribas quiet and fifteen minutes from time got their reward. Molina charging forward was found with a ball over the top and as Sebastián Bértoli raced off his line, the 20-year-old lifted the ball over the goalkeeper and into the net.
Across in La Fortaleza, Rosario Central earned a point from their trip to Lanús as Mauricio Martínez headed an almost instant reply to Lautaro Acosta’s opener.
Ezequiel Carboni had opted to rest Acosta from the start after being in midweek Copa Sudamericana action but two minutes after coming on, Lanús’ star player nodded the ball past Jeremías Ledesma. The lead didn’t last long and when Esteban Andrada failed to come and collect a Central free-kick into the box, the ball was headed by Maxi González onto the back of the oblivious Mauricio Martínez’s head and into the net.
And finally in Tucumán, Tigre left with a respectable point after holding Atlético to a goalless draw. Denis Stracquarlursi was perhaps unfortunate not to give the visitors the lead when an incorrect offside flag denied him an opener and Alejandro Melo crashed a shot against the post for the hosts but a share of the points was probably fair.
Defensa y Justicia 1 – 0 Patronato
Lanús 1 – 1 Rosario Central
Atlético Tucumán 0 – 0 Tigre