All focus is on next Tuesday’s Copa Libertadores quarter final second leg but River Plate and Independiente first had to fulfil their Superliga commitments and with largely second string sides, the two grandes experienced contrasting matches on Friday. For River it was a five-goal romp past a woeful Lanús but for Independiente it was the familiar tale of missed chances and a goalless stalemate against Tigre.
Even with most of Marcelo Gallardo’s Libertadores starters rested River simply had too much for Lanús and after a fairly even first half, Los Millonarios were able to put their foot on the gas only a fraction and simply blow away Luis Zubeldía’s relegation threatened side.
Lanús hadn’t started badly and actually took the lead when Leandro Maciel was left in acres of space by a sluggish River defence to beat Franco Armani. Scoring past the Argentina number one is achievement in itself but the advantage didn’t last long when similarly absent defending at the other end allowed the in-form Ignacio Scocco to control, spin and shoot from six yards out past a helpless Matías Ibáñez.
Only a stunning stop by Ibáñez denied Scocco giving River a half time lead but there were positives to take for Lanús, mainly in the form of 17-year-old Pedro de la Vega, who once more shone brightly.
A noticeable step-up in energy from River after the break put Lanús on the back foot but the manner in which the home side fell behind was desperately unlucky. A shot from just outside the box by youngster Santiago Sosa rebounded back off the post and after hitting Ibáñez bobbled into the net.
That moment opened the floodgates and River were in unforgiving mood. Luciano Lollo headed in a third before two fine passing moves cut Lanús to ribbons and saw Nicolás de la Cruz and Exequiel Palacios tap in goals four and five.
Pedro de la Vega’s tears on the bench after being substituted during such a heavy defeat were probably representative of how Lanús supporters feel with just how far their team have fallen but there is no stopping River’s momentum at present. 30 matches unbeaten now for Gallardo’s side, a run that goes back to February 24th, and now up to third in the league and favourites to progress in the Copa Libertadores, few would back against the Millo at the moment.
Lanús 1 – 5 River Plate
Independiente will be hoping to spoil those plans at the Monumental on Tuesday but El Rojo are certainly not going into the Libertadores clash with the same positivity.
Ariel Holan selected an almost entirely second string eleven with only Alan Franco and possibly Emmanuel Gigliotti in line for a start on Tuesday but Independiente will have still felt they had enough to defeat relegation candidates Tigre in Avellaneda.
A game of little quality and few clear chances was ultimately decided by yet another missed penalty. Sebastián Prediger’s clumsy challenge on Fernando Gaibor gifted the home side a chance but on this occasion Gonzalo Verón was the guilty party as his spot kick was saved by Augusto Batalla.
Independiente have had 14 penalties in normal time since Holan arrived at the club and scored only seven, a statistic that supporters will be hoping isn’t further tested next week.
With only one win in six Superliga matches, Independiente are at risk of already putting all their eggs in the Libertadores basket so Tuesday evening could not be any bigger.