Racing Club may be unable to keep every element of their mouth-watering attack together after June but for the time being there is no better offensive unit than Eduardo Coudet’s side and on Thursday evening in the Cilindro it simply blew away Vasco da Gama.
Lautaro Martínez, Lisandro López, Ricardo Centurión and exciting youngster Matías Zaracho were all on the scoresheet and with captain López also missing twice from the penalty spot, the 4-0 scoreline could have been a whole lot worse for the Brazilians.
López’s first penalty miss came in the opening minutes as a tame effort down the middle was stopped by Martín Silva and while still goalless Vasco da Gama had chances to make Racing pay. However, La Academia didn’t have to wait long until their next chance came along and Ricardo Centurión’s blistering form held true as he emphatically smashed the ball into the top corner after 32 minutes.
Five minutes later, the impressive Zaracho drove forward once more, fed Centurión and his low cross was slid in by Lautaro Martínez as Racing looked likely to score with every attack.
Martínez tripped on the stroke of half-time presented López with a second chance from the spot but once more Silva thwarted the captain’s effort.
Vasco da Gama may have felt they could still punish those misses but shortly after the break, Zaracho skipped through the porous defence, rounded Silva and rolled in a wonderful third.
Renzo Saravia marauding forward from right-back then won a third penalty of the evening and this time, López found the net.
With the game won, Eduardo Coudet could get Centurión and Martínez off to save them for another day and Racing sit pretty at the top of Group E. Victory away to Vasco next week would all but secure a place in the knockout stages.
Racing Club 4 – 0 Vasco da Gama
River Plate made much harder work of Emelec in Guayaquil but came away with a first win of the tournament to take a far healthier position in Group D.
Once again Marcelo Gallardo’s side were indebted to goalkeeper Franco Armani, who looks more a certainty for the Argentina squad with each passing game, as Javier Pinola’s first half header was enough to take all three points.
River were the better side in the opening 45 minutes but that didn’t prevent Emelec forward Marlon de Jesús spurning the clearest chance, running through on goal only to tamely finish straight at Armani.
Two minutes before the break, Pity Martínez swung a cross to the back-post and Emelec’s absent defence allowed Pinola to head past Esteban Dreer unmarked.
As River retreated back in the second half, Emelec enjoyed greater possession and dominated for large parts only for any shots on goal to be denied by the impressive Armani.
Emelec visit the Monumental next week but River now sit in a good position in the group after drawing their two opening games. Another victory over Emelec is vital with Flamengo and Independiente Santa Fe posing the real threat to qualification.
Emelec 0 – 1 River Plate