On Wednesday evening all eyes will be on the Estadio Libertadores de América in Avellaneda as Argentinian giants River Plate and Independiente face off in a Copa Libertadores quarter final. Neither side had managed a Superliga victory this season but on Saturday afternoon both set that right with a victories, each by three-goal margins.
Independiente hosted Colón and even though Ariel Holan was eager to claim a first three points from what has been a slow start to the campaign, the coach opted to rest several first team regulars ahead of the River game.
The likes of Braian Romero, Gonzalo Verón, Ezequiel Cerutti and Fernando Gaibor were handed opportunities to impress and unfortunately for visitors Colón, El Rojo’s second string took them with a dominant display that was thoroughly deserving of victory.
The lively Romero had already headed against the crossbar when Emmanuel Gigliotti gave Independiente the lead just after the half hour mark. Youngster Gonzalo Asis released Verón and the often frustrating forward produced a perfect cross for Gigliotti to power past Leonardo Burián.
Romero flashed another header inches wide and just before the break Colón saw Alan Ruiz sent off for a careless second yellow card.
With the man advantage, Independiente were now firmly in control and Gigliotti had a glorious opportunity to put the result beyond doubt shortly after the restart. Verón won a soft penalty after a faint touch on his shoulder from Guillermo Ortíz but Gigliotti’s firm spot kick was palmed clear by Burián.
It almost proved costly as Martín Campaña, on his 100th appearance for Independiente, was forced into a fine save to deny Nicolás Leguizamón from close range.
However, the introduction of Silvio Romero provided El Rojo with a lift and within minutes the substitute combined with Gaibor to take the Ecuadorian’s back-heel in his stride and roll in the second.
Romero would then slide in Gigliotti for a simple third and Independiente were able to go into Wednesday’s clash with a morale-boosting win. Holan will welcome back the likes of Maxi Meza, Martín Benítez, Pablo Hernández and Fabricio Bustos for River but faces a dilemma on whether to one of or both Silvio Romero and Emmanuel Gigliotti.
Independiente 3 – 0 Colón
River Plate welcomed San Martín de San Juan hoping to break their run of four consecutive draws in the Superliga and Marcelo Gallardo’s rotated squad were also able to seal a convincing victory.
That isn’t to say there weren’t a couple of debatable moments in River’s favour. Rodrigo Mora gave Los Millonarios a 22nd minute lead but the ball had appeared to run out of play before Lucas Pratto’s cut-back, just as it had when Camilo Mayada crossed for what Ignacio Scocco thought was an earlier opener.
Mayada nodded in a second soon after and from that point the result never looked in doubt.
Mora pounced on a defensive error just after the break to slot in a third and although Facundo Erpen headed a goal back it was a mere consolation for San Martín.
The visitors saw Hernán Da Campo sent off for a rash challenge on Exequiel Palacios and River were able to wrap up the win with a softly awarded penalty. Luis Ardente was adjudged to have tripped Enzo Pérez despite appearing to get something of the ball and Gonzalo Martínez made no mistake from the spot.
Despite it being River’s first win of the Superliga season, Gallardo’s side are in formidable form and will be confident of getting a result in Avellaneda on Wednesday.