It wasn’t the performance that River Plate supporters were hoping for and Marcelo Gallardo clearly tried to find some defensive stability rather than attacking verve but despite that, Los Millonarios claimed a 2-2 draw against an equally disappointing Flamengo side.
Played behind closed doors at the Estádio Olímpico Nilton Santos rather than Flamengo’s famous Maracaná due to the crowd problems at last year’s Copa Sudamericana final neither side had the look of Copa Libertadores favourites at this admittedly early stage.
It wasn’t until Leonardo Ponzio tripped Diego to allow Henrique Dourado to slot in a 53rd minute penalty that the game produced any real action and the opening goal swiftly brought another as Rodrigo Mora nodded River level almost immediately.
Woeful River defending allowed Éverton acres of space to control, swivel and volley past Franco Armani to restore Flamengo’s lead and it looked as though it would be inflicting another away defeat on Gallardo’s side. However, three minutes from time, Camilo Mayada’s skidding shot from distance seemed to catch goalkeeper Diego Alves a little unsighted and flew into the bottom corner.
Given River’s form, it wasn’t the worst result and now with a more than a month until their next fixture, Gallardo can seek to make those necessary improvements.
Flamengo 2 – 2 River Plate
Earlier in Montevideo, Estudiantes opened their campaign with a draw against Nacional. The visitors appeared more than content to leave with a point and Nacional didn’t really do enough to claim victory in a game of few clear chances.
Estudiantes host Real Garcilaso in two weeks where an opening victory will be demanded.